You would agree with me to a large extent that ladies have the biggest smiles and poses in pictures compared to guys. Surprising to say that I recently bumped into a young man by the name Tunde Ayilara, whom by virtue of one of his photos online has amusedly tilted the odds in guy's favour.
Could the reason behind his smile have anything to do with the fact that his passion has led him to be relevant in a market that has proven to be women's forte? Well we’re about to find out. And speaking of women's forte, I've long shifted attention from taking pictures to marketing a tested business model. One I think actually suffices for his smile.
Tunde Ayilara is the founder of Waracake. Alongside 3 other co-founders, he is making “cake” business happen with ease in the Nigerian eCommerce scene. “We saw the opportunity in the space, and it was also based on a personal experience,” says Ayilara.
He sure has eyes that identify an opportunity at the quickest uptake.
Offering innovative solutions
Waracake is an offshoot of a business run during university days at OAU around 2012, which has overtime pivoted into what it is today. The word "Waracake" is a fusion of the Yoruba language expression "Wara", meaning "come and buy" and "cake".
Waracake is a two-sided cake marketplace for retailers and consumers. For the retailers’ part, most of whom are women that lack the tech savviness to bring their business online, Waracake provides the much needed tech support to push their cake to the market and as such, helps them earn more income.
For the customers, “our online platform provides them more choices from cake designs, quality of products, and discounted prices, as opposed to directly patronizing the regular cake merchants”
Effecting a Functioning Model
The model is working, it has enabled us validate some of our propositions over the period of our existence.
The model, which has been run for a little over a year, is not just only making its clients (customers and cake merchants) satisfied, but also generating some significant amount of income to sustain itself. While a Waracake model appeals the minds of the customers by offering the comfort of ordering cakes online from within the confines of their homes and also ensuring prompt home deliveries, it ensures the retailers (Cake vendors) on the other hand find their satisfaction in a ready market for their cakes, a loosened competitive pressure (since it has a handful of retailers signed under its platform) and a zero cost of creating awareness for their product -- with it's only pressure bordering around constantly meeting up with quality cake production.
The platform offers the flexibility of customers’ order/selection of cakes from its inventory, and also allow customers to be able to give specifications, rather than limiting the mode of operation to one particular aspect.
“We are in the right direction", says Ayilara, "we are basically learning everyday, and we’ve been able to learn ways by which we can tweak our model to improve our performance”
Qualitative sign up requirement
The bakers come to us first most of the times, and the first thing we do is, if the cake looks good to us, according to our own judgement, we have interest in the baker.
Waracake's desire to meet quality cake needs of its customers at all times has spawned an entry assessment of it's cake merchants. Cake merchants whom have shown interest in signing up to the platform are subjected to evaluation in order to ensure qualitative cake delivery, and as such, building a strong brand identity. Waracake further moves to sign a memorandum of understanding with these cake merchants upon successful assessment.
“We’ve been able to have interest from over 500 merchants in Nigeria that want to retail with us, and have been able to jettison some of them due to negative feedback. Actively, we’re working with close to a 100 merchants”
That is not to say that Waracake doesn't want to be the first choice for cake vendors and for consumers who want to purchase cakes.
We want people to think of cake and remember Waracake.
Customer satisfaction is a relative term, so its appearance as a challenge may just cut across all walks of life. Not a problem peculiar only to Waracake -- which in itself is a plus for Waracake. Nevertheless, Waracake identifies equality of customer satisfaction as its major challenge since it's difficult to leave everyone equally satisfied. Therefore it is having to contend with trying to find that balance between satisfying each of the customers while maintaining product quality.
“The major challenge has been trying to leave every customer satisfied, because a cake that taste good to a customer A may not taste good to customer B”
Furthermore the CEO highlights price competitiveness of the product in the industry with cake merchants outside of Waracake's platform as another challenge. Since it hasn't gotten the entirety of Nigerian cake merchants in its coffers.
Flexibility in mode of payment
Having a good model is one thing, ensuring that the model offers convenience in terms of payment is another. The Waracake platform has got both working well for it. It offers the flexibility of its clients’ payment and receipt of money by transfers, bank deposit and the use of cards on its platform.
However, a Payment on Delivery options is not available, due to the fact that 98 percent of Waracake’s consumers are adequately motivated to pay upon order. Giving no need for the payment model.
Ayilara tells us, “we've totally eliminated Pay on Delivery and it has been working perfectly for us so far."
Customer relationship is a key tool for the survival of any business. All businesses -- let alone one that is intertwined with an object of perishable value -- objectively make it a responsibility to satisfy the customers. But where most have stalled at that, Waracake through its customer feedback section on its platform, has been able to improve performance. It is constantly working on every customer feedback (Positive and negative) in a bid to improve the quality of it's services.
“We ensure every customer we deliver a cake to is satisfied. When we have negative feedback, we ensure we look back into it and we try to leave the customer smiling even at the end of a negative feedback”.
Waracake is on a mission to becoming the “Amazon of Cakes” in Nigeria, and wouldn't stop delivering delicious baskets. It's customers patronage, which spreads across the borders of the country is a testament of its desire of excluding no one from having a fair share of its attractive package. According to Ayilara, Waracake sees every customer as a potential customer.
Ayilara tells us they even handle deliverys from Nigerians in diaspora; from countries like UK, USA, Switzerland etc.
“We get a lot of orders from Nigerians in diaspora. We get a lot of online orders from those people more compared to people who actually stay in Nigeria”
Waracake is indeed out there to provide cake solutions that have never been experienced. It would be having it's next cake fair in Lagos and Abuja in early 2016.
All said and done, thank you Tunde Ayilara for reminding everyone out there that it's a man’s world afterall. And what a woman can do, a man can do better.