Kaymu marketplace on skyward trend in Uganda!

Channel Post MEA interviewed Justin Christianson, the Uganda Country Manager of leading African online marketplace KAYMU. He spoke about the fast growth of eCommerce in Uganda and how they are engaging channel resellers.

Kaymu Country Manager for Uganda Justin Christianson (right) after the interview with Channel Post MEA Editor for Africa Davis Weddi, at the Kaymu office in Kampala
Kaymu Country Manager for Uganda Justin Christianson (right) after the interview with Channel Post MEA Editor for Africa Davis Weddi, at the Kaymu office in Kampala

Briefly tell us about your company Kayimu – what it does, the volume of business it handles, the total number of staff and board, how long it has been in existence etc…
We are an eCommerce company. Our approach is different and more similar to Ebay. We are a marketting channel that links sellers to buyers. We have 50 staff of who 50% deal with seller and the other half deals with buyers. We recruit sellers, open up shops, engage in a lot of ecommerce education and sensitisation.

We are part of a larger group called the Africa Internet Group (AIG) and for two years now based in Paris. We have had a big office in Lagos Nigeria for two years now and have been in Uganda for one year so far. Our investors (in AIG) are MTN, Millicom (Tigo) and Rocket Internet. Our sister companies operating in Uganda include Hellofood.co.ug, Lamudi.co.ug, Jumia.co.ug. A recent one is Everjobs.co.ug and next month we shall be launching Jovago.co.ug.
We process 5000 orders a month and we have 5000 registered sellers who provide about 70,000 products. We get 25,000 buyers per week and this is 50%-50% between new and repeat buyers.

Retailing computers and communication electronics: How is it done at Kaymu?
We have 25 staff who work with existing and new sellers. The products are intentional. Our staff go intoa shop and help the sellers to list their products on our website where online buyers will find them.

How has business been in the last 12 months?
In the last 12 months, business has been fantastic! We have grown in a way that was not expected. The buyers have been very receptive likely due to the education and sensitisation. E-commerce is defintely here to stay. We grew from zero orders to 500 orders in just 12 months. So we are now expanding and we shall soon embark on an aggressive campaign to bring in a whole new range of new users.

What was the most challenging issue about your business in the past year and how did the company overcome it?
Getting people to uderstand online business in addition to misaligned expectations. Because we are just a marketplace, at times it can lead to some buyers being disappointed especially when sellers sometimes are not as ready as shown online. To this we are giving buyer some formal education about online business.

Where do you source majority of the IT products you resell in Uganda?
Products come from all over. We have sellers who bring in containers and other bring them in groups. Some sellers buy from sellers and this normally leads to increased item prices this shows that the market in Kampala is fragmented. The two leading sellers for IT products are Mercury Computers and Rich Communication Solutions. They sell mostly Smartphones, feature phones, Phablets and laptops. We effectively have enough products for buyers to choose from.

What vendor brands are most popular in the product portfolio?
The most poplar products are phones. The smarphones from Samsung, Huawei and HTC are very popular. Feature phones from iTel, Nokia,

iDroid and Techno are also a big hit.

What will drive your business growth in 2015? Are you expecting better business this year than last year? If yes why?
Yes we are expecting better business in 2015. We are actually testing the grounds as we undertake recruiting more buyers and sellers.
We are going to work with sellers and especially a group of sellers with whom we are sharing sales data. We are still learning the market. A market like Kampala is changing incredibly quickly and we are having to learn a lot.
This year we launched an app that led to a 30% jump in traffic to Kaymu. As we are now understanding the market, we a going to get more aggressive with new solutions including SMS.

What do you view as biggest inhibitor of growth for most IT reselling companies in Uganda?
Reliability of supplied products is a big inhibitor. This is partly due to the fact that there is no dominant player/vendor.
Questions of relaibility of the phones sold are lingering as there is also no official policy for returns and no single seller has looked into this.

What do you say is the secret to your staying in business so far?
The reason for the quick growth  is that we have taken eCommerce ideas and adapted them to the local market. We work closely with the sellers and we teach each other new things.

In your view, what needs to change if IT is to be part of every organisation, business and individual in Uganda?
It will become a part of everything and everyone. There needs to be more education. teach the buyers about online shopping. eCommerce is not going anywhere, it is going to dominate and shape the way business is done in Uganda.

What does the future hold for IT resellers in Uganda?
The future is incredibly promising.There a lot more people going online more often as reseller bring more products online, the demand will grow. The areas growign in particular are in phones, smart phones, laptops, Tablets, Hybrid smartphones (Phablets) and an important thing is that more people are embracing the lower end tablets.