The founder/Chief Executive Officer of affordabletyres.ng, Olaseni Odukoya, in this interview, speaks on how e-commerce is redefining businesses. Raheem Akingbolu presents the excerpts:
What is your view about e-commerce in Nigeria?
Nigerian e-commerce is an interesting space to look into but can also be depressing. It is slow now but it is the future. People would soon start embracing it. Once we can improve our epileptic internet and expensive data subscription fee & there is more coverage it would boom. It has done better than harm to other countries. It is all about convenience as far as you are getting what you ordered for & they have a good user experience the first time, they would always come back. For example, as we have Amazon in the US, which is booming, we have Jumia in Nigeria who are during everything possible to stay up there. The economy right now makes it difficult to stay afloat but with time, it would adjust. Some big players like Dealdey where I worked, OLX, Gloo.ng have shut down. The major problem with e-commerce now is the recession, poor purchasing power & logistics nationwide. In addition, we have to deal with the issue of trust and customer service in the eco-system. Most people especially when it is not a Niche market like tyres, do not believe what they see online. They feel what they will order would be different from what they will get. Some people also use the online platform to check for prices and head to the physical stores because they feel the margins added would be a lot which is not always true. Pay on delivery would make it a little bit easier even though it is still manual because on some e-commerce website, you are to pay online, which makes some Nigerians uncomfortable. There are still reports that the online fraudulent transactions are on the increase, which will not make Nigerians comfortable and fully adjust to e-commerce just yet. However, with all the challenges faced, the Nigerian e-commerce industry is said to be valued around $16.5bn with a lot of potential for growth if some of the issues are tackled properly. Hence why I said it is the future.
What role do you think government should play in strengthening the market?
The foundation of a successful e-commerce business is built on good infrastructure. The government need to help speed up the adoption of ecommerce. Collaborating with important stakeholders can help in dismantling the barriers. There should be e-commerce policies announced by the government showing their support for the system. The government need to assure online consumers that they will be protected from fraud. Many people have lost their money for no good reason. They believe in whatever was sold to them and where swindled. With consumer protection from frauds, the niche can grow and become one of the leading source of revenue for the government. There needs to be strict policies protecting individuals from fraudulent deals. They should also make sure that e-commerce activities have legal recognition.
When did you start affordabletyres.ng and what informed it?
The venture started on the 1st of February 2019. I formerly co-founded etyres.ng in 2014, which shut down in January 2019 due to some partnership dispute. I still had the same dream to continue so I set up another one by the name affordabletyres.ng. An online platform that gives easy access to Nigerian motorists to purchase quality tyres, batteries and lubricants with transparent prices at the convenience of their homes or offices.
Who are your target audience?
Nigeria motorists who use year 2004 cars and above and have access to the internet. Who live in the high-end part of the Nigeria. Salary earners. People want convenience. Staffs working from 8 am to 5 pm who do not have time to step out. Companies who need a source they can trust and work with professionally.
With the feedback you have gotten so far, will you say the market is ripe for it?
Yes, it is ripe. It is the future. I would say we are almost there. People now are getting used to buying things online. They want convenience and a place they can trust when getting tired. It helps motorists who do not want to travel far looking for a particular tyre to get them easily.
How do you deliver to your customers and how effective?
Well we do same day delivery for orders before 12. We have bikes and bus for delivering. It also depends on how urgent the need is. Customers give us their location and we take it to them, be it at their homes, offices or the fitment centre closest to them.
Can you please give us the idea of the location you cover within and outside Lagos?
We supply nationwide. We supply everywhere in Lagos from the mainland to the island. If you buy a set of four tyres, it is free delivery within Lagos. If you buy less than four tyres, it comes with a charge. However, we bring the tyres to you
How do consumers ascertain the quality of what they buy on your platform?
We work directly with the tyre distributors to deliver quality tyres to Nigerian motorists. We give warranties on our tyres on a pro-rata basis. We sell only select brands that we rate & know that will not give our customers stress. We also make sure they get to fit their tyres at a professional fitment centre. We also allow pay on delivery so they can trust us and educate them on how to spot used or expired tyres.
Do you deal with only new tyres or mixtures of new and fairly used?
Say NO to used tyres! Not safe at all. We sell only brand new tyres. We have tyres for your budget, so there is no need to buy used tyres. We would definitely plug you with an affordable tyre of great quality.
What are the challenges you are currently facing in pushing the business?
The tyre market is still selling many used tyres because there are limited funds to some Nigerian motorists. We still have 40-45% of Nigerian motorists buying used tyres. In addition, funds for marketing to create awareness is a problem. Let people know they can buy tyres without stress and educating them on why they should not use substandard or used tyres. I will never encourage any motorist to buy used tyres. It’s a death trap.
Cybersecurity is key to e-business, what roles do you think respective stakeholders should play?
Effective cybersecurity reduces the risk of cyber-attacks and protects against the unauthorized exploitation of systems, networks and technologies. They need to keep improving on the security to make people more comfortable while purchasing online. 13. How can you describe the growth of the SMEs? This question is coming during the recession period, so I would say slow but it happens, it is even affecting the big players but after the recession ask me this question again, I am sure I would be able to say the small businesses are picking up in terms of growth. There is limited cash inflow into the economy now so people are rigid with their spending.