Three ex-Jumia Nigeria employees have launched SureGifts in a move to propel the country’s gifting sector and also help their clients express gratitude, love and care with more than just words.
The three, Olaoluwa Samuel-Biyi, Adeoye Ojo and Babafemi Lawal, are all early employees of Jumia Nigeria and before launching Suregifts, they did e-commerce/financial consulting under the umbrella of Numbers.
“Sometimes, words are not enough to express just how much you celebrate, appreciate, regard or love someone,” they say. “Here at SureGifts, we make the art of gifting simpler but richer.”
Being offered online makes gifting simpler, brings convenience to an industry which was majorly offline and saves the time of both the sender and the recipient as they don’t have to figure out which gift would be the best for what occasion neither do they have to go through the hassle of picking it up, wrapping or delivery. The recipients have the gifts dropped at their doorsteps and the sender can add a note with a special message to their spouse, girlfriend or fiancee in time to ignite the widest smile.
Recipients either have the gifts delivered to their homes, offices, schools or they receive vouchers by email and redeem them at selected vendors countrywide or anywhere SureGifts Cards are accepted.
TechMoran caught up with co-founder Olaoluwa Samuel-Biyi and below is the whole story behind SureGifts.
What is suregifts.com.ng?
Suregifts is the online gifting solution in Nigeria. We primarily offer gift cards redeemable at high-quality merchant locations nationwide. We also have a Gift Specialist service for people who need additional assistance.
Building a company with Rocket Internet really creates a big appetite for entrepreneurship and technology. Being key members of a team that built Africa’s largest e-commerce business also comes with a lot of learning and access to a pool of highly talented and ambitious people who quickly rub off on you. It only made sense to leverage on this while there’s still space in the industry to capture.
Why launch a gifts site instead of a full e-Commerce store?
There are several players in the market attempting the full e-commerce model along with Jumia and Konga. We can’t have two ‘amazon.com’, and unless they can come up with a value proposition that is truly unique, most will likely fade with time. However, there are big opportunities for niche businesses. These businesses can specialize in one category of products/services, do it better than everyone else, and win. That’s what Suregifts intend to do with gifts.
How does it work?
To use Suregifts, you simply browse through several filters like occasion, location, gender and age, price etc. and narrow-down the merchants featured. You then select your favourite merchant and view several location images, as well as additional description and customer reviews of the merchant’s business to help make your buying decision. Next, you select the preferred gift card denomination, decide the mode of delivery and add a special message to the recipient if you choose. Once purchased, the recipient receives the beautifully designed gift card either via e-mail or at a physical location, and they can redeem at the giver’s chosen merchant. The generic Suregifts gift card can be redeemed at any partner merchant, and all Suregifts Gift Cards don’t expire.
How do you vet your merchants?
Our merchants are carefully selected by the team. We visit our target merchants to assess their suitability for Suregifts before contacting them. The quality of our merchants reflects on us, and we’re very meticulous with our selection process.
Do you deliver or it’s the merchants who deliver?
Delivery of gift cards is handled by Suregifts. The merchants’ responsibility begins when the recipient shows up with a gift card.
Where do you get your cut?
We have revenue-sharing agreements with our merchants.
Is online gifting lucrative yet, in Nigeria?
There is a big gifting culture in Nigeria. All Suregifts’ founders worked with a lot of data while at Rocket Internet, and they have found that a significant portion of items bought online are gifts. It was intuitive to believe that the market will welcome a platform dedicated to making gifting easier, and so far, that belief has been validated. We’re now looking to expand our network of merchants and offer Nigerians the best variety of gift cards online.
How are payments done?
Payments are done online via debit or credit cards. For the Gift Specialist Service, customers are invoiced and they can issue cheques or make bank deposits.
What are your challenges?
Like online shopping two years ago, the concept is still novel to most Nigerians. The biggest challenge right now is effectively communicating the utility of gift cards. Nigerians are quick learners though, and we believe they’ll quickly see the value of gift cards and why they are ubiquitous in the developed world and among corporates.
Who is your local competition?
Suregifts’ model is quite unique, and we’re not facing any direct competition yet. However, there are existing solutions out there offering prepaid debit cards that must be used over point-of-sale devices.These cards are expensive to make, purchase and ship, and they do not appeal to recipients who do not want just another ‘ATM card’ in their wallets. These cards are not personal or intimate enough, not redeemable at the best locations, and they lose their expected utility as an alternative to physical gifting because they mimic cash transfers with their debit card properties.
How unique are you from the competition?
Merchants don’t get special advantages from the above solution, and it is tedious and unappealing to buyers. Suregifts does not need to integrate with existing merchant systems. We simply drive sales to them at no cost. The personal touch and the diversity of merchants on Suregifts also make it more appealing to buyers and recipients. We have received strong acceptance from merchants and the shopping population as a result.
Where do you expect your business to be in five years?
In five years, we hope to have gathered enough experience to establish ourselves as the true home of gifts in Nigeria. We will take all lessons and pivot as necessary to until the model is rock-solid. We want Nigerians to think gifts and think Suregifts.
Why Nigeria when South Africa seem to have a fairly large middle class population?
E-commerce in South Africa is relatively advanced, and gift cards are already popular there. The market in Nigeria is large enough and largely uncharted.
Any plans to expand out of Nigeria?
We’ve identified other African countries that could benefit from a platform like Suregifts. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of work to be done in Nigeria and we’ll like to gain a lot of experience here first.
Have you received any funding yet?
Yes. We have raised money from Venture Garden Group in Lagos and partly from some individual angel investors.
How is the start-up environment in Lagos?
The start-up environment in Lagos is very vibrant and there’s a very real economy brewing in the background. It’s a tough place to be, but it offers a lot of opportunities.
One word to guys/girls who want to start tech businesses?
Everyone already has your idea; launch first.