Masikini is an e-commerce platform whose aim is to make shopping less painful for Ugandans. It started serious operations in January 2017 though was operating prior to that. Currently, they have one store which is located at Oasis Mall basement.
At the start of this week, I had a quick chat with Enock Lubwama, who heads the operations at the store. Enock was able to run me through their day to day processes, current, and future plans.
How it works
So, basically, Masikini is that guy who is willing to go out and buy things for you because they're more familiar with the process they have done over time. They don't own any stock.
They don't own any stock. Instead, they curate products from some of the world's best e-Commerce sites as well as other stores they partner with.
Enock highlighted Amazon and eBay as their biggest sites for Uk and the US. And when it comes to China, they have been able to establish connections with various stores on the ground.
However, in case one wants to buy a product from a different site that's not listed on Masikini, then they can just email Masikini the link to the product.
One challenges that Masikini spotted here and took was the lack of a clear and established address system in the country. So what do they do? They set up a permanent address in the US, UK, and China. All the
All the products their customers buy from those countries are shipped to their addresses in the respective countries, then to their address in Uganda - eventually - from where you go and pick up your package.
When I asked Enock about their numbers, he said they were really small when they were starting out. To me, this is not a surprise. He says this is partly due to the fact that Ugandans are not yet familiar with the fact that you could purchase anything online and have it delivered.
However, as of now, they now get more than 20 orders a day. There's also been a shift of order pattern. When they were starting out, most of the orders were coming from China. Yet now the pattern seems to be changing and most of the orders are coming from the US.
Team and Expansion plans
Masikini started with a team of eight and are still the same number. Though Enock projects that since they have expansion plans as well as experiencing a growth in a number of orders placed per day, that number might end up growing dramatically in the near future. they'll consider covering the entire East African
Asked about their expansion plans, he said that they're only considering expanding to other countries. However, this will come after hitting certain targets in the Ugandan market. They have the current target put at 1000 orders per day, something Enock believes can be achieved in the coming two years.
Masikini hasn't started delivering yet. Whoever places an order has to go and pick it up from there, only, for now, store. However, as Enock said, they make special arrangements for those that'd like to have their packages delivered to them.Though, as you probably guessed, this comes at an extra fee covering the transportation.
I wanted to understand if there are any plans to create a high breed model of marketplace and mall. What means is that Masikini would have a store of their own inventory as well as inventory from other sites like Amazon and eBay plus other stores listed on theirs.
So, a customer would either purchase from Masikini's inventory or the listed sites.shall maintain our model and not open up a mall because it is so hard to predict what people want. Because
Enock said they have not given it a thought and are looking to maintain their model for the foreseeable future. This he attributes to the fact that "it is hard to predict what people really want. Because every day we get surprised orders."
[caption id="attachment_1935" align="aligncenter" width="1080"] The waiting Lounge[/caption]
Currently, the products that move fast are clothing, shoes and hair pieces. And, not to my surprise, most of their clientele are women. In his estimate, Enock put it at 70% women and 30% men.
He also stressed the fact the for every product that we try to advertise, if it is a ladies product, the responses are much quicker as compared to that for men. Masikini We are dealing in everything except automobile products.
Masikini is currently able to deliver anything to you except automobile products. Though they have never handled any B2B deliveries. But Enock believes if one entrusted them with their order, they can deliver under a special arrangement.
[caption id="attachment_1937" align="aligncenter" width="1080"] Serving Desks[/caption]
Monetization and Customer Acquisition
Masikini makes its money by charging a commission of the shipping fees. Every shipment that they make is subjected to a commission. When
When I asked for any estimates of shipping fees if I am looking for a pair of sneakers, he said this varies depending on the weight and dimensions of the package. The shipping cost varies according to the dimensions, weight, and price of the product.
Currently, they are mainly using social media, to be specific Facebook and Instagram, to acquire new customers. Though they're are considering going into print media.
The whole idea of e-commerce is not new to the world, even Uganda. But, we can not deny the fact that whoever tried out the idea in Uganda a few years ago faced a good amount of obstacles. From customer trust issues to low numbers of internet users as well as unnecessarily long delivery days to unfavorable payment means.
These have not been completely tackled but, at least, we can all agree that the landscape is not as it was 5 years ago. We have all witnessed a tremendous shift in the number of internet users as well as a growing number of people shopping online.
Compared to 5 years ago, the number of internet users in Uganda has jumped by almost 4 times the number in 2012 from around 3.5 Million to around 13 Million. So clearly, a person that played in this field 5 years ago faced a tougher challenge compared to the one playing in it now.