Open air food markets in Nigeria are often bustling with crowds and a variety of offerings. Nonetheless, retaining customers is still a problem for vendors and farmers, according to lawyer Uchay Ariolu, founder and CEO of online food marketplace Foodstantly.
The website, which allows restaurateurs, farmers and market vendors to build client bases also provides ordering services for consumers who want to source food that is ‘ready to cook’ or ‘ready to eat.’ Fast food services and caterers can also create a profile on the site, where the basic requirements are to have a mobile phone and a legitimate address.
Though many food sellers have found their way to Foodstantly’s online marketplace, there are some farmers who have not transitioned to digital point-of-sales. This hasn’t stopped Ariolu from finding them and putting them directly in front of potential customers.
Locking Down Reliable Food Sources
“We had to meet them one-on-one. We physically meet sellers to sign them up and show them how it works. These people are still not sure that business can be transacted online and that payments can be received online,” Ariolu told AFKInsider, stressing that it is “imperative” that he and his team get to know and give assurance to apprehensive vendors.
“We have a growing number signing up to sell on our platform without our meeting them….With time we shall have more sellers who sign up online than those we physically meet,” he said.
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For Foodstantly — which earns money through website commission sales and fees charged upon delivery — buying from farmers, sending products to sorting centers, then selling directly to customers is a revenue model that makes sense and keeps expenditures for farmers within a tighter realm.
“We help the farmers sell direct to consumers and at a very reasonable rate,” he said.
This method is also most profitable.
Getting Things Cooking
Shopping for food in Nigeria, Ariolu said, can sometimes be a hectic, inconvenient process. While some open air markets are disorganized, Foodstantly interjects the highlighted online options to buy in bulk, buy from farmers, order from a restaurant or caterer, buy from a trader or market — and of course to purchase ready to cook/eat meals.
Knowing that some customers have to deal with horrible traffic and commuting long distances just to get to Lagos’ Oyingbo, Mile 12 or Oniru markets helped Ariolu and his team foster relationships with food traders.
And while the company is in the early stages, Ariolu believes that he’s latched onto a revenue model that he, traders and farmers can appreciate. The online crossing of buyers and sellers is Foodstantly’s strong point as layers of middlemen are cut out of the equation.