Konga, Nigeria’s foremost e-commerce giant, has made significant strides which have positioned it as the clear leader in Nigeria’s highly competitive e-commerce market. The foregoing was disclosed by Co-Chief Executive Officer of Konga, Prince Nnamdi Ekeh in a chat with global news medium, Cable News Network (CNN).
Prince Ekeh was speaking to CNN Marketplace Africa on the sidelines of the first Creative Africa Exchange weekend held in Kigali, Rwanda from the 16th-18th January 2020. The Konga CEO was one of the speakers at the event which brought together over 1500 participants from 68 countries and over 250 exhibitors.
He disclosed that Konga’s omnichannel structure which sees it takes a percentage of the retail outlay in the online (formal) and offline (informal sector), self-owned tech-driven logistics solution, Kxpress through which it handles deliveries to customers as well as external parties, state-of-the-art regional warehousing facilities which enables it retains inventory in diverse states and locations in Nigeria as well as sound knowledge of the Nigerian business terrain are factors that have placed the company in front.
‘‘Konga is best positioned as the leader in the Nigerian e-commerce market. We are not just an e-commerce company but we run an omnichannel model with over 30 physical stores spread across Nigeria. So, we are closest to the people. Also, we are seeing huge growth in the business and in our customer base. Between last year and this year, the business grew by almost eight times,’’ he enthused.
Equally important, the Harvard alumnus based the foregoing on Konga’s strategic business ideals. Prince Ekeh affirms that the company is run efficiently and with transparency and integrity.
‘‘The key is growing your revenue while being able to manage your costs. That is the only way for sustainable growth. In the last year, we have been able to grow revenue by eight times but we have also been able to reduce our costs by 65%. That is quite huge.’’
Sharing his thoughts on how Konga is creatively resolving the challenge of logistics which has hobbled other players in the market, Prince Ekeh noted that the company had relied on its deep understanding of the Nigerian terrain – a factor which he emphasized has distinguished Konga in the marketplace.
‘‘The starting point for us was identifying the problem. There is a huge problem in Nigeria where the informal market is so huge, so massive; in fact, almost 98% of the market. This means that people don’t have access to quality products; they don’t have access to quality after-sales services.
‘‘So, we identified this problem when we came into the market. What we hold ourselves on is integrity and making sure that we are supplying quality products and as quickly as possible. We had to look internally and invest in a logistics platform for ourselves. So, we built a logistics platform working with franchisees in local areas. If you understand the dynamics of local villages in Nigeria, most people know each other. As long as we had the name and the phone number of the person who requires the product, someone in the local village knows that person. So we partnered with local people and empowered them to deliver to the last mile for us.
‘‘Today, we have built Kxpress, our logistics platform, to the point where we are not only delivering for Konga but for other partners. That’s where you begin to add value because not only Konga has that problem. A lot of people have the same problem. People who sell on social media have that problem too. So, we are building a platform not just for ourselves but for the entire industry. With that, we are able to scale much quicker.’’
Quizzed by the CNN’s Eleni Giokos on Konga’s expansion plans, Prince Ekeh disclosed that the goal is to dominate Nigeria, which the company has all but achieved, before expanding to other African countries.
‘‘Nigeria is one of the largest markets in Africa. We are looking at consolidating in Nigeria and ensuring our customers get the best services and then rolling out across Africa. If you are able to scale to the point where you can solve a lot of the problems in Nigeria, it makes it easy to take on other markets outside Nigeria. Definitely, Nigeria is the focus for now. That’s where we started and that’s where we hope to scale and once that is done, we can begin to expand to other African markets.’’
Continuing, he stated: ‘‘We have a lot of things going on. We are also adding a lot of business units. We recently launched our travel business in February 2019 and also have a Central Bank of Nigeria-licensed mobile money platform called KongaPay. We also have Xpress, our logistics business. We are a platform and as a consumer, we want to connect you to all these different services we provide. We also plan to roll out a lot more services so that our customers stay within that platform as we continue to grow the customer base.’’
Incidentally, there has been a lot of talk about foreign players such as Amazon and Ali Baba eyeing a share of the potentially money-spinning Nigerian e-commerce market. However, Prince Ekeh welcomed the development, even as he held that no one understands the Nigerian market better than Konga.
‘‘I love the competition because the market is huge. Competition is good. It keeps you on your toes. I mean, Nigeria has over 200 million people and the informal market is still like 98%. That means, all the big players in the market are only sharing just like 2% of the potential of the industry. As the formal market grows, we also see the pie growing which means more revenue for all of us. I think the market can still accommodate more players.
‘‘I should know my market better than anyone else. The funny thing is, when the foreign players come into the market, they face exactly the same problems. They face the crazy Lagos traffic; they face bad roads and bad infrastructure. So, we all have to face the same problems; which we have experienced all our lives, so it’s a bit easier to adapt and just like what we did with the logistics problems, it’s easier for us to find those innovative solutions,’’ he disclosed.
On how Konga is adding value and transforming lives, Ekeh took pride in giving others an opportunity like the one he was privileged to have.
‘‘Luckily, I was privileged to go to school abroad. I returned and I had access to funds. What keeps me up is how do I provide the same opportunity to people under me. In a way, I am doing that with Konga. I will give you an example. We have a seller that started off selling on our platform. She had a small shop in Balogun Market in Nigeria, which is a huge market, but like with very tiny shops. So, she was struggling at that point in time. She started selling on our platform and today, she has about 13 stores and her children now school outside the country. That’s huge and all we have done is just provide her with a platform to sell her products. She has access to the whole of Nigeria.’’
Ekeh, who stated that Konga is a technology company, described Africa as the new frontier of prosperity in the 21st Century, even as he threw some light on the trends shaping commerce in the current age.
‘‘I think Africa has so many opportunities. It was Jack Ma who once said that Africa has the potential to become the next China but what we need is great minds to come into the continent and invest in businesses and look for innovative ways to solve African problems.
‘‘When you look at Africa, we tend to skip trends. Africa skipped the Personal Computer trend and went straight to mobile. So, I feel like Africa might skip the e-commerce trend and go to social commerce. We see a lot of people buying products from Instagram, from Facebook, from various social platforms. And at Konga, our goal is not only to be an e-commerce platform. Our goal is to be an engine for commerce and trade in Africa. As much as our focus is e-commerce with physical stores, we are also venturing into social commerce. Anywhere we find our consumer, we try to play in that space as much as possible,’’ he concluded.