Over the past couple of years, players (both past and present) in the online classifieds sector have appeared to run the same model; serving as the bridge connecting sellers and buyers without looking into other aspects of the business like payments or logistics.
Unlike the case of the retail eCommerce industry where there are players that have been dominating the market for the past decade or so, the baton for the dominance of the classifieds market — especially in Nigeria — has been passed around over the years.
When Jiji’s acquisition of OLX in five African markets eventually pulls through, it will definitely become a force in the classifieds market on the continent.
Beyond connecting sellers and buyers, other initiatives that players in the classifieds market have tried include a verification exercise, especially for the sellers and merchants on the platforms.
Will adding some element of eCommerce in the classifieds market make a difference? It appears there will be an answer to this question and many more in a few years.
MaketAam, a new entrant into the online classifieds space, believes it will change the face of the market in Africa, as it looks to provide more than just a meeting point for buyers and sellers.
Sharing the MaketAam story with Techpoint, the co-founder and CEO, Ejimnkeonye Dennismary describes the platform as a social marketplace.
Dennissmary claims that the business model is designed to address the issue of trust in the market.
According to Dennismary, MaketAam currently has more than a thousand verified merchants and services providers signed on to the platform, ahead of its June 1, 2019 launch date in Nigeria. The platform is going as far as using merchants’ bank details as one of the verification requirements to sell on the marketplace.
MaketAam will be launching with service providers and fashion items at the initial stage. Other items will be added in due time.
Unlike conventional classifieds marketplaces that allow the listing of used items, the platform will be allowing only new products. One can also order for a customised item. For now, you can’t list a single item for sale on the platform.
Protecting both parties: payments and logistics
While the Nigerian retail eCommerce industry is basically thriving on the Pay on Delivery (PoD) model, MaketAam is looking at prepayment as a move towards protecting buyers.
With the prepayment option, sellers are not credited until the buyer confirms receiving the item. The same applies to service providers that are requested through the platform; MaketAam doesn’t pay the providers until the client gives the nod.
MaketAam promises some level of protection when a buyer opts for the prepayment option while ensuring that the right item is delivered and at the right time.
When a buyer has gotten delivery of an item but fails to confirm the receipt, MaketAam can override such and makes payment to the merchant.
This approach, according to MaketAam co-founder is to ensure that both parties are well protected. Buyers can, however, choose to pay the seller directly, only that they will not be protected by MaketAam in the event of fraud.
Dennismary points out that service providers on the platform will be treated more like employees of MaketAam, as they will have access to benefits like health insurance cover. The platform will also be partnering with motorbike hailing companies to ease the movement of the service providers.
There will also be insurance cover protecting the client from damages that might arise.
Beyond payments, MaketAam will also be handling logistics for sellers at a reduced price. As revealed by the co-founder, the company is already in talks with one of the leading logistics companies in Nigeria.
Worthy of note is that a merchant can choose to have the delivery done by himself, rather than use MaketAam’s logistics partner.
The twist to its social angle
Like every other online marketplace, MaketAam has a chat feature to facilitate communications especially negotiations between the seller and buyer.
However, unlike other players in the market, its chat feature doesn’t allow the sharing of phone numbers and the system archives chat history after every session.
The archived chat history is accessible only to authorised MaketAam staff for conflict resolution purposes.
Revenue and future projection
A common practice in the local classifieds industry is not to charge sellers to list products except in the case of paid promotion or listing as a service, as in the case of OLX’s ‘Sell it for Me’ service.
Apparently, MaketAam is not taking that route. The platform currently doesn’t allow promotion of listings but will be charging ₦200 on every successful sale. This is irrespective of the value of the item. Services providers, on the other hand, will be paying a percentage as commission.
MaketAam is looking forward to taking the service providing part of its business to New Zealand and Ghana within 6 months of its Nigerian launch. The business is also expecting to have gotten over 5,000 merchants and service providers on its platform by then.
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.