The eCommerce market in Nigeria has the potential to become the biggest on the African continent driven by a boom in mobile penetration, a thriving payment system, new investments in logistics, and a growing young population with a large appetite for digital transformation.
Although there are still gaps in the logistics value chain, there appear to be too many companies doing the same thing. In recent times, more investors and investments have come into the space, but the more businesses set up shop, the more fragmented the market becomes and the challenges remain.
Orders still get lost in transit, delivery drivers disappear with customers’ orders, the number of orders that are returned for one reason or the other is rising leaving merchants with losses, and delivery delays are still rife because of traffic or some man-made reason. These challenges and other macroeconomic indices have in the past led to the closure of some eCommerce businesses such as OLX, Efritin.com, MallforAfrica, and Gloo to mention a few.
CourierHub, an integrated ecosystem for all parcel delivery needs (end-users and operators) founded by Stanley Njoku and Kelechukwu Okere wants to fix the fragmentation in the parcel and goods delivery sector. The two young Nigerians started CourierHub during the wake of Covid-19 in 2020, as they watch merchants, retail stores and ecommerce businesses struggle to reach customers with their orders. Making it extremely difficult to meet customer’s needs in real time.
The company decided to build a tech-platform that aggregates all stakeholders in the parcel and goods delivery sector into an ecosystem that enables both the operators and service providers to get reached easily on the go by end-users that need their services.
“For example, if you take a look at what Uber and Taxify, which is Bolt and other cab-enabling businesses they are doing, it is creating a platform, an eco-platform where those that need the ride can easily connect to taxi owners on the streets within their neighborhood,” Njoku says.
This Uber model is what CourierHub is replicating in the logistics market. It looks quite ambitious as it means uniting every segment of the logistics business on one platform and giving the customers the advantage of accessing every vendor in one place. But success means merchants and eCommerce vendors, business people that interact with consumers on a daily basis are able to optimise customers experiences and satisfaction in real-time, irrespective of the hour of the day.
CourierHub has crafted a template for success built on three models. These include independent riders, end-users, and API for small and medium enterprises into parcel delivery services.
The API for SMEs is particularly remarkable. It is targeted at small players, entrepreneurs that own like three to five bikes used for deliveries. However, these small players often lack the technical capacity to maximise their business. The capacity includes being able to check their fleet management, monitor their riders on return, set targets for individual riders cash contribution or performance on a weekly or monthly basis.
On the CourierHub technology, these operators can easily register to access all necessary information that has to do with the business. They can register their bikes, monitor their riders by asking them to download the CourierHub app, and generate a user code that enables the operator – using a map – to monitor every activity riders carry out while on the job. The map can pinpoint the riders’ exact location, travel time, their visit, the route they took, and many more.
For example, if a rider is asked to deliver a package in Ikeja from Ikorodu, the operator can be able to monitor it as the system automatically knows how many minutes it requires the rider to get to the destination. And if after the minute the system has not prompted that such a rider has delivered a parcel, the operator can easily check from wherever he or she is what has happened to the rider. This is real time business optimization tech solution; and CourierHub offers this at zero cost to businesses into parcel delivery services, within Lagos and beyond.
The code is also important for the safety of the parcels. How it works is that if a customer in Shomolu, Lagos, for instance, wants to send a parcel to a location within the state, once the order is raised, a unique code is generated which gives an x-ray of the details about the transaction including pick up point, delivery point, details of the customer raising the order, etc. Once a dispatch rider accepts the order, the code is automatically connected with the person and generates every information about the rider and the activities he undertakes throughout the trip.
The CourierHub technology is built in such a way that every delivery can only be verified ‘successful’ by the customer that raised the order. In essence, a trip is not complete until the customer confirms it from his or her app. Hence, once the dispatch rider gets to the destination of delivery, he needs to place a call to the sender of the parcel who then ascertains that it has been delivered. When a delivery is not verified after twelve hours, a team member of CourierHub swings into action to investigate what has happened. Oftentimes it could be as a result of an oversight or being too busy, that is why the customer or the sender has not been able to do verify the trip completed.
Also, a rider does not necessarily need to get to a destination and return empty-handed. The CourierHub platform is able to assign a new customer to the rider, just the way the Uber app locates a rider to the closest driver who just completed a trip. The CourierHub platform is an aggregation of pool of end users that needs instant delivery solutions or services across all neighborhood in Lagos and environ.
“What it means is that while your riders are also delivering on the go, they can also be reached by other end-users, giving you an opportunity to increase your revenue base, service small markets with more customers while plying the same routes,” Njoku said. “Instead of going to Ikorodu just to deliver one parcel and come back empty-handed without achieving any result or any further job. While coming back, a rider can still pick a parcel and deliver it within Ikorodu or anywhere that is probably the closest to him.”
The independent rider model targets the many riders in cities like Lagos who are running their own delivery business. CourierHub says it can help these independent riders streamline their business, as well as generate more revenue. They are required to download the company’s independent rider’s app and automatically gain access to the pool of users on the platform.
Njoku says there are over 700 end users and over 500 verified riders on CourierHub in less than two months the platform was launched. Many of them operate within Lagos State. In the next six months, the company is looking to scale its services across Nigeria to make it possible for operators that are into intra-state parcel delivery to be able to get connected to users who want to deliver things across the country.
But there are challenges one of which is to convince potential customers CourierHub is a safer option and offers the best convenience in terms of getting them to verified, accessible and convenient delivery operators or riders with superior customer experience. Many merchants and retailers, Njoku says, still prefer to patronise any riders on the streets even when they have suffered delays and sometimes loss of items from doing so. These operators believe that dispatch riders on the streets are cheaper, hence the attraction. This is not always true, Njoku says. CourierHub’s platform has a pool of affordable and safest dispatch riders and an accompanying peace of mind that the order would be delivered to the destination and on time with traceable details of all activities during and after services rendered.
“We’ve come to stay and we’ll keep preaching the convenience our ecosystem offers and keep educating people on why they need to take away unnecessary hurdles and stress out of the way and the pattern they live their lives and carry out businesses,” He says.
“No order raised or paid for should take longer time before getting to the customers or clients that needs them. No merchant, retail vendor or individual have any excuse to keep customers or their loved ones waiting endlessly when CourierHub connects them to the a pool of delivery operators in less than a minute.”