On the 9th of July, Yasmeen made an order online for groceries from the comfort of her home in the Katampe area of Abuja.
On the other side of the virtual space, Frank Umeadi abandoned a half-eaten plate of food and flew into action. Fifty-one minutes later, Yasmeen reportedly opened her door to a sweaty Frank with her groceries in an orange coloured shopping bag with “Mart.ng” boldly printed across. Inside the bag, her orders were intact; a tuber of yam, macaroni, a carton of yoghurt, stock cubes and cooking condiments.
According to Frank Umeadi, founder and CEO at Mart.NG, Yasmeen was satisfied with this service.
What is Mart.NG?
The startup is “an online supermarket and grocery/food delivery service” currently based in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. The company delivers “fresh fruits, vegetables, hot foods, household items, toiletries, drinks, beverages, health & beauty products, food cupboard, babies & child care products, office supplies and lots more.”
But its unique value proposition is a 59-minute delivery timeline in select Abuja cities and environs; Asokoro, Wuse, Wuse 2, Apo, Utako, Jabi, Maitama, and Gwarimpa.
Why 59 minutes?
“It is tied to the perception of time. We wanted to deliver in minutes and yet minutes were not feasible and hours sound so long, even 1 hour. So we pruned an hour down by 1 minute,” Frank explains.
“This 59-minute time is viable in these major towns because we have shoppers stationed close there that take orders and execute. Anywhere outside these areas cannot be guaranteed such a short time, but it is still same day delivery,” he continues. But there is a catch to this logistics chariot.
The 59-minute delivery costs a whopping ₦3,999 and this dwarfs the ₦499 – ₦999 price for same day deliveries. Frank agrees this fee is expensive but says it is necessary to cover the costs of a speed delivery and is open to a review in the nearest future.
Logistics complications still remain the biggest bane of shopping and eCommerce in Nigeria. In a busy metropolis like Abuja with its occasional traffic jams and bustles, logistics can be a very discouraging aspect of buying anything online or offline.
In March 2017, Frank went door to door telling people he could plug this problem for them. In those earlier days, orders were taken by phone and WhatsApp.
“By February 2018, there was an increase in the influx of requests for our services by busy residents of Abuja, so we formally registered a company and launched our online grocery store later in May 2018”.
And in 3 months, Mart.NG has serviced over 45 customers with Chinonso Ani as CTO and Pascal Anyia as Operations Manager.
In the first month of operations, customers seemingly refused to shop on the portal. This worried the team at Mart.NG but they say a proper Search Engine Optimisation is helping fix this problem at the moment. Also, onboarding partners and cataloguing products from supermarkets, local markets, restaurants was also an initial headache that is still ongoing.
Apart from all these, logistics still remain the biggest headache of the team. Ironically while trying to fix the logistics problem for shoppers, they too are facing the same problem.
“As a new venture, we partner delivery companies to fulfil some orders, but sometimes these companies find it hard sticking to time which unfortunately is our selling point.”
Franks says Mart.NG needs its own in-house dispatch riders to fulfill orders on time.
In the nearest future, the company plans to extend its services to Lagos and some other Nigerian cities. Whether their 59-minute timeline will fly in hyper-urban cities like Lagos is a question that time will answer.
Ineffective communication is another challenge Frank neglected to mention.
Annette Davies is a busy fashion consultant who recently used Mart.ng from her work place in the Jabi district of Abuja. According to Annette (who opted for same day delivery), her order came 3 hours and 19 minutes after clicking the ‘place order’ button.
“The service was really good, fruits I ordered were fresh and they even gave me an extra apple,” she recalls, “Feedback system is also amazing but they should have placed more emphasis on the shipping policies. Like make things more transparent beforehand.”
For now, Mart.NG looks promising with its model and to sustain same, it may need financial resources. I predict expansion and growth or a — very unlikely — pivot, but with its team, this one is not dying off anytime soon.
Nigerian startups raised $17.6m in Q1 2019, 8.5% higher than they did in Q1 2018. Find out more in the latest quarterly edition of the Nigerian Startup Funding Report here.