The Chief Executive Of, Synergimart Digital Marketing Limited, Mr. Muyiwa Ojo, in this interview, speaks about the company’s plan to address challenges in e-Commence business through digital marketing. Emma Okonji presents the excerpts:
What is your take on e-Commerce growth in Nigeria, being an emerging business in the country?
The e-Commerce business in Nigeria is still low, and we need infrastructure such as power and broadband internet connectivity to drive e-Commerce business in Nigeria. Once we have power and broadband, the volume of online transactions will increase and that will be opening more opportunities for online business in the country.
Synergimart recently launched the Synergitrust digital marketing platform, an aspect of e-Commerce business in Nigeria. What is the key motivating factor and what do you plan to achieve with it?
Synergimart Digital Marketing is an Information Technology (IT) driven marketing company that is focused on developing e-Solutions to address the digital market space. We focus on four core areas of our business services, which include e-Commerce, e-Procurement, e-Distribution and Channel Marketing, and we have solutions that are driving these services.
For the e-Commerce aspect of our business, we have a product called Synergitrust.
We looked at the activities of the global e-Commerce industry over the years, including that of Nigeria, where the likes of Konga and Jumia are playing big, and we discovered that they focus more on the affluents and the elites in the society, while neglecting a critical group, which are the masses at the grassroots, who may not know how to read and write, and do not understand the meaning of password and username in online transactions. These set of neglected people are those we are focusing out attention on, and that is where the niche market lies, yet they have been neglected and excluded over the years.
We discovered that these set of people lack money and education and for these reasons, that have been neglected for years. They operate in local physical markets like the Katangowa market and the popular Asuani and Oshodi markets in Lagos. So what we intend to do with our Synergitrust e-Commerce platform, is to ride on it to take online shopping to the neglected grassroots.
You have another area of interest known as E-Procurement, which you plan to launch soon, but the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) recently decried the lack of adequate technology skills to drive public procurement. What is your take on this?
By the time we launch our e-Procurement solution, it will definitely address all key issues associated with e-procurement, both in the public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy. We will be coming up with end-to-end solutions that will eliminate too much human interface and address every area of challenge in e-Procurement. We have since discovered that so much human interface has been a stumbling block to the growth of public procurement, and we have technology solution that will address all of that.
Looking at your e-Commerce business, how do you intend to bring the majority of Nigerians at the grassroots onboard the online transaction?
We are taking e-Commerce to the grassroots, in spite of their challenges. We have since identified their challenges to be lack of education and lack of money and we are ready to address those challenges, hence we are focusing on them to include them in our online transaction platform. In the area of education, we looked at existing infrastructure of the banking industry and decided to develop agent banking, using these facilities to reach out to the unbanked. We are converting Computer Business Centres to e-Business Centres which our trained agents will use in reaching out to people in the environment and educate them on how to do online shopping. We have licensed some agents and our goal is to recruit 5,000 agents and spread them across Nigeria. Our agents will provide computers and attend to those at the grassroots level.
How will you describe the business nature of the newly launched Synergitrust platform?
Synergitrust is the first social marketing network in the world and this is coming out of Nigeria in Africa. As the first of its kind, we have structured it in such a way that it will address every area, while carrying every stakeholder along that are key to the running of the platform. It is divided into three major components, the first being Synergitrust Business Club, which is a platform for everybody, irrespective of the class. Members of the club will form community of buyers on the platform. The Synergitrust Club can be likened to Ikoyi Club in Lagos, where people register to belong and to enjoy the facilities of the club. So with the Synergitrust Club, all members will be mainly business people who are buyers and willing to patronise goods and services on the platform.
The second category is the Synergitrust Merchants, who are already in business of any scale, be it large or small. These are people that offer services in exchange for money. By registering on the platform, the world can have access to them and demand for their services, and any category of merchants can be on that platform, provided they have services to offer.
The third category are the agents who operate between the merchants and those at the grassroots. We have two types of agents, mobile agents and physical agents. While the mobile agents are visible everywhere chasing business, the physical agents are stationary at a place like the office, attending to customers.
How do you address delivery of goods of merchants on the platform?
We have FedEx Courier company as our partner, and as soon as any order is placed, FedEx gets instant notification. On getting notification for any order, FedEx quickly get set to deliver the item. So delivery is not an issue on our platform.
Our system is also a cashless system, such that buyers and sellers do not handle physical cash for transaction, because movement of transactional cash is handled by the bank at the bank end. So what this means is that all merchants and buyers must have bank accounts for easy transaction. On the platform, both the buyer and the merchant, including the agents, make money for every transaction carried out on the network. Even government and the logistics company also make money for every transaction.
People are skeptical doing business online because of the security issues around online transactions. What are you doing to address it?
Security is key to any business, especially the online business. We knew this from the beginning and we developed security solutions that will address all of that. We also partner the best security company globally to ensure that every transaction on our platform, remained secured. Again we have in-built security in our system to complement external security.
Since the online social marketing is new in Nigeria and across the globe, how will you convince Nigerians to buy into the idea?
Yes it is new in Nigeria and in the globe as well, hence we are doing everything possible to persuade people that we cannot be doing the same thing every year and expect different results. Technology is evolving and addressing specific human challenges and we must evolve with technology if we must be part of the digital transformation. In the past, we were known for physical hawking on the streets and in the market places but what we have developed could be likened to electronic hawking system, such that any of our merchants can stay at the comfort of their shops or any space and sell their goods to buyers on the platform to those who have need for such products. Our platform will be strictly for business of selling and buying.