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‘E-commerce is a work in progress in Africa’

E-commerce is booming with the development of new business models. With large number of enterprises carrying out E-commerce, logistics driven under the background has been largely influenced. Thus, The boom of e-commerce has created massive delivery challenges and logistical issues with a 48 per cent increase in package deliveries in the last two years. Africa Delivery Technologies, which trades as Kwik is among the new solutions.  The startup, which is focused on providing B2B-, on-demand, and last-mile delivery service in Nigeria was founded in July 2018 and is the latest on the African continent to go after solving the logistics and last-mile delivery problem. The founder and CEO of Kwik, Romain Poirot-Lellig tells us more.

E-commerce
Romain Poirot-Lellig

You have worked as a journalist with reputable French media organization. So now, how did you manage the transition from journalism to logistics?

Actually, the link between most of my professional experiences is technology. Even as a journalist, I was covering the tech and media sectors. I have also been a fundraiser for startup companies, a lobbyist for videogames companies and a diplomat for the European Union and the French government.

When did you know it was time to make the switch?

I’ve been coming to Nigeria since 2015 as part of a project finance consulting activity. I was struck by the incredible vitality and creativity of Nigeria as well as by the many challenges that technology could help overcome. So creating a Nigerian startup came as a natural step forward.

How have your operations evolved since you entered this market?

We opened our Kwik platform in Lagos in mid-June and we have been blessed with a very positive response from businesses, merchants and individual customers. People and businesses in Lagos seem to love the idea of a premium on-demand and reliable delivery service. We will keep working hard to improve the service for them.

How large is KWIK’s presence in Nigeria’s logistics and delivery market? Or rather how large could it get?

We aim to have 15 000 Kwiksters (the riders enrolled on our platform) nationwide by 2021, that should tell you about our ambitions. There are thousands of young Nigerians of promise out there that want to join the formal economy and build themselves a future. It’s our role to find them, select them, train them and push economic opportunity their way.

To what extent does KWIK see itself as competing with the major express firms with a long history here?

We actually see ourselves as very complementary. “Legacy” courier companies present in Nigeria are part of vital, very complex logistical supply chains that are essential to the country’s economy. We focus on the urban, last-mile delivery part. Through our app, Kwiksters deliver anywhere in Lagos in 2 hours. Our aim is to partner on this last-mile loop with as many legacy companies as possible so that they can serve their customers even better.

Where are opportunities opening up for KWIK in this market?

Opportunities are opening every day and we receive many prospects in our offices. From a more strategic point of view, the long drive to a cashless society is a huge opportunity for a company like Kwik. So are the potential partnerships with the incredibly rich Nigerian tech ecosystem. Africa’s future techs are in large part being invented today in Nigeria.

How confident are you about your company’s prospects for revenue growth over the next 12 months and next 3 years?

We are very confident. We have a great team working hard to provide a quality service to customers. New customers come every day. They are sophisticated, they demand immediacy and flexibility. We observe the same trends in neighboring countries, albeit of course on a smaller scale.

There are complaints about the service quality of new logistic companies that include timely delivery, fraud, missing, and so on. How do you ensure better service for your clients?

You need to have strong, reliable processes and a great team to enforce them. Technology is here to take the most obvious decisions in your stead and to help you take actions in the unusual cases.

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Why do you believe Sub Saharan Africa would be a good place for the delivery of goods to other parts of the world?

One word: demographics. From a population and economic growth perspective, the future is African. From what I observe in Lagos, it is also true from a tech point of view.

How do you rate e-commerce deliveries in Sub Saharan Africa?

Let’s be honest, e-commerce is a work in progress in the region. There are some very innovative business models being tested, there are some laudable efforts to develop the e-commerce culture and infrastructure. It’s not going to happen in one day. Trust is an essential issue. I remember that in France, where I come from, we had the same issues, so to speak, in the early 2000s, to build trust in the digital economy. The Nigerian government has taken some very positive steps already to foster this trust and we can assume it will keep on being proactive to create a favorable environment for the development of e-commerce.

How much growth is left?

The growth potential is absolutely massive. Smartphones are widespread and both corporations and merchants are eager to get access to affordable on-demand services to accelerate and grow their businesses.

How large an increase in deliveries do you expect to see?

We expect and observe a double-digit growth in our market segment. We also look at going to other segments of interest.

In your operation, you strive to maintain the lean management structure and agile mentality which are at the heart of your company’s culture. What advantages will that bring?

We have a short-loop decision-making process. There are very few walls in our offices, we use corporate instant messaging of course. That enables us to be reactive and to focus on customer service

What are the some greatest challenges of running a logistic business?

The greatest challenge is definitely access to financing. International investors need to understand that Nigeria is actually a welcoming place to invest in the tech industry. Some of them have already understood it and have found their interest in it. The government has, of course, a role to play in enhancing the image of Nigeria with international investors.

Tell us about your team, how many people work at KWIK now?

We are around 15, mostly in Yaba but also in Paris. The team is almost all-Nigerians. The Nigerian talent pool is amazing.

What changes will transportation and logistics companies need to make in 2019 in order to keep pace with the on-demand economy?

As mentioned, the widespread adoption of e-payment is a clear factor. So are the geolocation/mobile networks aspects. The logistics industry can also benefit from deep seamless integration with on-demand players such as Kwik.

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