Nigerian online retail store, Payporte has rebranded to concentrate solely on fashion retail rather than what they were formerly known for; the online store for everything.
This announcement was made by the CEO of Payporte, Eyo Bassey, at a press conference held at Delakes Mall in Admiralty, Lekki on the 29th of June 2019, where they also launched their new retail offline store.
Speaking about the reason for the rebranding and new direction, Eyo Bassey said:
“Payporte has rebranded and we’re now fully doing fashion. We’re no longer selling everything like we’re selling before. This has become very necessary for the next level. The initial plan was to become the Amazon of Nigeria, which is typical for almost every e-commerce company that started before us or are coming after us but in the last four years, we have realized that we really don’t have enough supporting structure in Nigeria to support that scale.
“If we have to ask ourselves a simple question, Jeff Bezos is the richest man today who owns Amazon. Why is Amazon not in Nigeria? The same thing that informed our work, we are realizing now that we can’t serve everybody with every product they need because the structures in this ecosystem really doesn’t support it. So we sat back and looked at it and said okay, what have we been good at doing? And we concluded it’s fashion.
“Now I can tell you they’re a lot of other successful fashion e-commerce company like Asos, Fashionnova. Those two easily come to mind and they’re doing excellently well, so in our quest to satisfy our customers and be the best we possibly can, we have to say “Okay, you know what, we ain’t no phones anymore, no televisions, let’s stick to fashion. So now, we’re selling fashion and what we call soft wearable electronics that goes with fashion examples are your airpods and we are ready to serve Nigerians and Subsaharan Africa the best as it comes to this.
“Now I can tell you also that the purchase of fashion products by Nigerians, the leaders in that space right now are not Nigerian brands. I walked up to Asos and said I want to be the last man solution provider for you in Nigeria and they were very truthful to me and said I don’t need you because I’m already selling this volume to Nigerians. That is the reason why we have decided to sit in the space and master it and be the best at it.”
Some of the challenges, according to Eyo Bassey that propelled them, into this new direction is the reality the Nigerian structure gives businesses, which according to him, is never good for business despite the money that he admitted truly comes into the business.
“Of course, it’s viable, But they’re so many other challenges. For instance, there’s the problem of logistics. Someone orders a television from us, a television that isn’t manufactured in Nigeria. The guy expects me to give him a service similar to Amazon, who are dealing directly with the equipment manufacturer and I ship this product to you and it has a problem and you expect me to activate the warranty.
“Another problem we face is that we don’t have an automatic address verification system, so how do I deliver to you timely products when we still have addresses like ‘come to this road, the blue roof, count 2 mango trees. These are the realities in this business and I tell you I want to be the Amazon of Nigeria? I’m only lying because, by the time the dispatch rider goes out before he comes back to pick the next item, he’s already exhausted.
“Meanwhile, in the advanced society, DHL or UPS just plug in their APIs for e-commerce companies and that’s all. The e-commerce picks up from Amazon and they go do the deliveries and all of that. But we don’t have that structure here. Amazon has thirty-five million products and still counting and if I say I want to be the Amazon of Nigeria with five million products, how am I going to deliver it?”
He went further to talk about how Payporte is strategically placing itself on the international scene; “we have very strategic partnership right now with top suppliers outside the country which we’re doing very well. And also, we have not only decided to stay online, but we have decided to also go offline. We have plans to open stores. We expect to open stores in Ghana and Kenya before the year runs out.
“We’ve already launched a new website which is programmed for Kenyans, Ugandans, South Africans, the UK, and the US. We also have physical hubs outside the country and some of them are in Manchester, LA and also in China which helps us to do deliveries and transact businesses. By 2020, we should be able to have physical footprints in at least ten countries in Africa”.
This rebranding will definitely incur more cost as Eyo Bassey reveals it means Payporte is doing a complete Omni Channel. “What this means is that we’re doing online, offline, newspaper, TV programs that are focused on viewers ordering Payporte products directly and we’re also doing by post. Which means you have a newspaper, you can take out the coupon, tick all that you want to order based on what you saw on the papers and send it to us by post for us to deliver.
“So it’s a complete omnichannel business right now and that comes with a lot of costs because we now have to open brick and water stores across the country and Abuja is coming up very fine, and we hope to open Abuja in the next one month. Same thing with Ibadan, Port Harcourt. That’s the cost for space, so we’re trying to get partnerships with real estate companies to work together in providing these spaces we need.”
Is this a failure for Payporte for not sticking to their initial goal of becoming the Nigerian Amazon or is this their way of going back to the drawing board, and like The Head of Product Management, Adenike Bankole stated, “putting their best foot forward”? According to Eyo Bassey, Payporte hasn’t failed and what they’re experiencing is common with businesses, because when things aren’t working out as planned, going back to the drawing board is important which is what they have done. He said:
“One thing we need to understand is that failure is part of life and business. This rebranding doesn’t mean we have failed in any way. Now it takes courage to be able to take the kind of decisions we are taking. We are not painting a picture that its an issue of failure, rather we are letting Nigerians and the world to understand that we have repositioned ourselves to serve them better and we’re sticking to this promise. Now the whole epitome of e-commerce we’ll make reference to Amazon.
“Amazon started by selling music and books and they grew to what they’re doing but we in Nigeria here started by selling everything without really mastering anything. So it’s not a question of failure, it’s a question of recalibrating. Assessing yourself. Which is why you have your books. The books say what are we doing well? We are doing very well in fashion, so why not put all your energy and resources in fashion and do it well and properly and that’s exactly what has happened.”