CEO Weekends: Dr Olumide Olusanya Of BuyCommonthings.com On e-Commerce In Nigeria And The Amazing Brand They Are Building.
To start off the new week, TechMoran had a chat with Medical doctor turned online grocery king; Dr Olumide Olusanya, Co-founder and Chief Execution Officer, buycommonthings.com, a virtual/online grocery store that is disrupting the face of online grocery sales where he talks about e-Commerce in Nigeria, what buycommonthings.com is doing, and tells us exclusively about a new comprehensive category launch this week. Dr Olumide, an expert at e-payments has worked in different e-payment positions, but In the mould of his role models, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, all of Olumide’s present attention is devoted to the vision of changing the way Nigerians shop for groceries by building , buycommonthings.com, into Nigeria’s Biggest Grocery Store. What did you do before “buycommonthings” anything interesting like “Selling Ice cream, or Purewater” etc? Lol! No I didn’t sell ice cream. But I managed my mum’s small beer/beverages retailing outlet for her in my secondary school days. I was a doctor; quit medicine for technology; moved from technology to electronic payments, where I really kicked a lot of ass in Nigeria; then into banking; then investment management; “retired” at 39years. BuyCommonThings.com brought me out of retirement 2 years post-retirement. I understand that buycommonthings was a grocery store before, how has this help in meeting e-Commerce needs We are still a grocery store and we will remain so for a long time to come. That is where our focus is. Or how many big name brands selling laptops have you seen pouring $205million worth of concrete all over Nigeria? How many orders do you get in a day? Sorry I am not allowed to answer that question. What I can say is orders have increased on average 135% month-on-months since commercial launch. Do you see yourselves as the little guys in e-Commerce? And what advantages or disadvantages does this offer you? There is nothing little about us. To call us little will be a big misinterpretation of our aspirations which are HUGE. The appropriate analogy will be calling the Ethopian long distance runner Haile Gebrselassie “little” at the beginning of a marathon race, in a field filled with the gigantic Ben Johnsons, Carl Lewis and Hussein Bolts of this world. Is Gebrselassie the little guy? Well, what is wrong is the timing of that question. Let’s wait till 5,000km down the race and ask who the little guy is. Don’t let his small stature deceive you. It’s an advantage because his lean muscle mass burns less fuel compared to the Hussein Bolts: his body is engineered for this kind of race. Ecommerce in Africa is going to be a long and hard marathon race with huge, huge benefits at the tail end: entering it with the mindset that it is a 200 metre dash is a big mistake for anyone to make. You will simply run out of oxygen and fuel. And don’t also forget that Gebrselassie comparatively needs less oxygen to generate same output as Hussein Bolt. How many people are in the team at Buycommonthings? Presently we are 5. However, we are in an HR scaling drive, as we recently raised some money, and expect to be about 10-12 before the end of this second quarter. We have been able to achieve so much with this existing small number of people because the team is one of multi-talented Rock Stars! When you think of our team, the picture it should conjure in your mind is that of the amplified coefficient force of the 300-member Spartan phalanx against the hordes of opposition at Thermopylae. It’s why 5 of them are pulling the same weight as 100-member teams, as you have rightly observed. Imagine the level of ass they will be kicking numbered 12? Which marketing method have you adopted that you feel has been the most beneficial to your brand? Offline or online We don’t market offline. And even online, we choose marketing approaches with very short sales conversion cycles. It has recently been reported that Nigerian internet users have recently grown from 200,000 to 40million. That’s more than the population of most other African countries. When we finish addressing that online market, maybe we will start thinking of TV ads. What is the future of e-Commerce In Nigeria? Ecommerce will be big in Nigeria but the wave is not here yet. This is still Day 1. What a wise surfer does is paddle ahead of the wave not ride ahead of it. What role does Buycommonthings want to play in this? Our vision is to be the Biggest Supermarket in Nigeria. We are already the biggest ONLINE supermarket. Is there still room for other e-Commerce companies to spring up? We believe there is still room: the key barrier to cross is the HOW to do it. eCommerce ideas are now a commodity in Nigeria: what is lacking is execution talent. What are the major problems faced by e-Commerce firms in Nigeria? Case study: Your brand What we have heard echoed around in the industry and media are logistics and payments challenges. But we believe those are exactly where the big opportunities actually lie. It’s a question of how to go about turning those seeming challenges on their head into advantages. That again is in the domain of creative execution. And by that we do not mean throwing money at the problem. It’s a question of how creative you can be in coming up with business models that allow you to deliver value while leveraging those challenges as opportunities to stand out of the pack in the way you approach it. Looking at existing Website designs like Jumia and Konga, what is the reason behind Buycommonthing’s current look The mistake people make is to think design is largely how something looks. Yet design is more of how a thing functions. The designs you see around is a reflection of the typical herd mentality approach that lacks original thinking based on customer needs, taking into consideration the unique challenges of connectivity in this environment compared to the environment where most of these designs are copy-pasted from. All we can say is that our website is a reflection of our values. And the first of those values and the most important is that we are extremely customer-focused. We continually get feedback from our customers as well as from “the experts”. We have chosen to align with the view point of our customers who have increasingly been voting for the site with their hard earned money. “The experts” don’t pay us: our customers do. Nevertheless, nothing I have just said takes away from how something should look. The point is functionality trumps looks. Example: our website’s response time is almost 3 times as fast as some of the examples you have mentioned. The tools with which to easily test this are readily available. Do you have anything special coming up on buycommonthings? We are coming up with our new comprehensive category launch, which we will start pushing as from next week Friday.