Ecommerce has become an integral part of the retail fabric in today’s society. However, the hysteria that greeted its rapid rise not only in Africa, but in Nigeria, has to a large extent cooled off. Household brands like Jumia, Konga, Dealdey and Hotels.ng continue to mirror the significant gains from the upsurge and the progress made over the past couple of years. Issues like trust and technological limitations have also made it difficult for many startups to make significant inroads into a sector, deemed to be climaxing in terms of opportunities offered to new entrants.
But some new entrants aren’t bound by this narrative, and are uncovering opportunities with lucrative potential. 2K Market is one of those.
Launched in January, the online retail store has cornered a niche for itself and is so far proving extremely lucrative. By offering largely household products under the price of N3000 ($9), it is managing to capture an attractive number of cost-driven online shoppers who prioritize cost whenever making shopping decisions.
In this interview, the founders of 2K Market, Kelechi Nwaozuzu and Emeka share more on the inspiration behind the brand and why they believe it will blossom into a household name.
Your motivation for being an entrepreneur
There are a million and one reasons why people become entrepreneurs. To provide a solution, to help people, to bridge existing gaps. When we decided to start 2kmarket.com, it was because we felt challenged to help create a platform for people whom we felt have great potentials but were not recognised for the lack of a platform. Being entrepreneurs put us in a better position to channel our vision of helping people live comfortably without breaking the bank. We are taking full control of the platform we have designed to impact positively on the lives of people.
Were you always certain the entrepreneurial life was for you?
Kelechi: For me, I always knew there was so much more to life than running a 9 to 5. I never pictured myself doing that for a long time. I always wanted to be my own boss but I knew that it would not be easy to attain but I was and still am willing to follow on with that dream however long it takes.
Emeka: Not really. As a child, I had dreams of having a white collar job. I envisioned myself working in an organization with an ideal environment and a mouth-watering salary. But that mindset changed later. For one, there are thousands of graduates that are unemployed, so there was no guarantee that I would get my dream job after graduation and NYSC. Secondly, I saw a need in Nigeria’s Ecommerce space, one which its solution will better the lives of many. So, rather than focus on white collar jobs, I started thinking about problem solving.
What is the story behind the 2k Market brand name?
We wanted a unique name, one that that will perfectly describe who we are and what we do. We are an online market where buyers shop for products that are only two thousand nine hundred and ninety nine naira(2999Naira) and below. Hence the name 2kMarket.
What kind of products are you focused on, and why?
When the idea of 2kMarket was birthed, we planned on having products that cut across as many sectors as possible. For now the products available on 2kmarket are products whose price range fit into the scope of our market and majority of them are household items as we are looking to meet the immediate needs of Nigerians. Since our launch on the 15th of January, we have had several people and companies reach out to us and we’re working to ensure that in the near future, we will expand our site to accommodate products that cut across many more sectors in order to meet the needs of many more people.
You seem to have launched right in the thick of Nigeria’s current economic crisis. Did this in anyway influence the brand strategy in terms of retailing largely low-cost products?
Our major goal like we mentioned earlier was/is to solve a problem, in this case the high cost of quality products especially in this period of recession. We had planned our launch much earlier but due to some unforeseen circumstances, it had to be postponed. As a matter of fact, we think it is pure coincidence that the economic situation makes our market even more appealing. We are sure many people find it comforting to still get high quality products at an affordable price especially in this period of economic crises.
If managing a business during an economic crisis is usually a struggle, then starting out should feel like hell. Has this been the case for 2k Market?
Every business faces several challenges but what distinguishes a business that is able to survive and thrive is consistency, hard work and commitment. In all sincerity, It has not been rosy at all. There are a plethora of challenges and obstacles that we have faced starting up 2kMarket. It was challenging from the onset getting sellers to trust our platform. It was a challenge deciding on the right quality of products to put up on the site. It was also a bit difficult getting some sellers to adjust their prices to fit our market price. Managing the business as a whole and keeping it running has been a herculean task. It takes a lot to gain the trust of Nigerians, to create brand awareness, as well as to get people to actually shop on 2kMarket. All of these cost time, hard work and money. All three we’re willing to give.
Currently, what would you consider your greatest daily challenge(s) in managing 2k Market?
It is quite difficult to single out one challenge as being the greatest daily challenge. Each day poses a new challenge, which most times we successfully overcome. There are challenges with processing some orders, delivery of some orders, creating awareness, building trust and managing our social media pages. For now, we could say one challenge we are hoping to overcome soon is getting word out there to millions of Nigerians that there exists a budget-friendly, pocket-friendly online store with high quality products.
What measures do you put in place from a strategic point to address these challenges?
We make it a point of duty to learn from every new experience and to ensure that in all, we satisfy our customers. For the issue of processing orders, we try to make the process as seamless as possible for both the sellers and the buyers by working with a host of competent and efficient courier service providers. We’re currently working on creating a system where we can easily process an order swiftly. The good news is that so far, we have not failed to meet the expectations or needs of any of our customers and we hope to continue to maintain such good records. As for the awareness, we’re utilising our social media pages to the best of our ability.
The ecommerce wave that stormed Nigeria, and Africa as whole, just a few years ago seem to have cooled off. Do you think this is accurate and if so what can you attribute this to?
We are of the opinion that Nigerians are slow to embrace change sometimes and when there is no more “thrill”, are also quick to let go of it. The ecommerce wave hit Nigeria real big, but due to many repeated bad experiences, people are losing faith in online shopping. Also the economic recession is not helping matters. Things are getting much more expensive to buy, so shopping online is not much of a priority for some. The fact that there has been a calm is definitely not accurate and we hope to be able to help create that excitement and excellent customer service once more.
How is 2k Market strategically positioning itself to push beyond the limits of the sector?
Like every organization that means business, 2kMarket has big plans for the near future. We are looking at expanding our business and reaching our full potential. We have plans to house many more products from many sectors of the economy (especially agriculture), we have plans of partnering with so many companies and individuals. We hope to bring them on to our platform with our carefully mapped out strategies. We are also looking to expand beyond the Nigerian borders but as we earlier highlighted, these are feats that will not happen in one day but we’re willing to and are already working towards achieving them.
What key trends do you expect to see in the ecommerce sector in the coming years?
Each day, technology all over the world is expanding and newer concepts are emerging. We anticipate that once again, the ecommerce wave will hit Nigeria and this time with much more force that will have lasting effects. Many Nigerians will embrace this and fully utilize all that the sector has to offer. Many other ecommerce sites will emerge and try to win the hearts of Nigerians. It will take something special to be a major player then and we are gearing up for this. We expect to see the reintroduction of trade by barter ecommerce style too.
What do you think the coming years hold in store for this brand?
The future of 2kMarket is a very bright one. In just two months of existence we have achieved quite a lot and we hope to achieve many more great things. We have chosen not to rest on our oars and we foresee 2kMarket being a widely recognized brand in Nigeria, Africa and hopefully, the world. We will win the hearts of Nigerians and constantly exceed expectations by offering at all times the Ultimate Customer Experience.