Despite its diversity, the African Market is characterized more by informal than formal retail. However, with the surge of internet penetration on the continent, many people are gradually getting used to the habit of shopping online with countries like Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa at the forefront of Africa’s digital evolution. Progressively, access to the internet across many African countries has also led to a rapid emergence of technology companies such as Sika Trader, ready to tap into the continent’s growing online industry. Sika Trader is a Ghanaian technology company that offers business solutions, digital marketing services, bulk messaging packages, and innovative ways of selling products & services via the eCommerce platform www.edwaaso.com. We were delighted to have a brief conversation with Garvin Atee, a key member of the Sika Trader team.
FA: Briefly tell us about you
Garvin: My name is Garvin Enoch Atee, I am a Media Executive, Content creator, and also the Market Experience Leader at Sika Trader Technologies.
FA: What inspired the establishment of Sika Trader Technologies? Why that name? And so far, would you say you have achieved most of your set goals?
Garvin: Making our clients, partners, and customers more successful has been the passion and the driving vision for our organization. Several people and businesses require technology to make them more efficient and reach more customers however due to cost or knowledge, very little tech is present in businesses. So after College, we decided to address this situation in a unique way using technology and knowledge of Economies of scale where we combine the strength of many businesses having a shared platform, thereby making the total cost of ownership of the technology cheap for any single business and at the same time giving customers the opportunity to view multiple products and services from different sellers. We overlay the platform with a loyalty program that is useable across any shop on the platform.
FA: In your opinion, how has the eCommerce industry in Africa changed over the past ten years?
Garvin: Over 100 businesses have registered to sell on the platform. Both products and services merchants sell on the platform and over 1200 buyers have purchased from the platform. With a partnership with delivery partners such as Ghana post, our own delivery team, and other local delivery companies, we have delivered over 5130 parcels across Ghana, Nigeria, UK, Tanzania, and Kenya. This is evidence that the industry is growing at a rapid rate.
FA: What do you think are the major differences between the Western and African online retail markets, particularly Ghana?
Garvin: Until covid-19, online has always been an alternative channel of sales for most businesses. Business was typically done via physical channels and activities done online were more around the creation of awareness for products than sales. Due to the fear of fraud, customers were not willing to put their cards or mobile money information on websites. Covid-19 has however changed the way of life for most businesses. Both customers and retailers have begun to appreciate online sales. In Western markets where online is a way of life, the barriers for success aren’t there hence becoming very successful and going beyond targets can be achieved with little efforts.
FA: What is the eDwaaso Story?
Garvin: So, as we scout for ideas on how to implement this project, it hit us to look at how business has always been done in Ghana. Business is done in the market on specific market days where sellers and buyers from both far and near converge at a place to buy and sell. We unanimously agreed on the name eDwaaso – meaning market place in local Akan language in Ghana. From there we have engaged businesses to sell on our platform.
FA: In Ghana, what retail sectors are currently performing well? Which ones are struggling? And does edwaaso bridge this gap?
Garvin: Locally produced items e.g Baskets, Kente, Fugu, Shea butter, and other manufactures find it very difficult to go to the market or attract buyers apart from people who walk about the physical locations. We have bridged this gap by signing on such merchants unto our platform with minimal registration requirements and advertising their products.
FA: Why should the customer shop on edwaaso? What are the unique selling points of edwaaso that sets it apart from competitors? Also, what some of the measures you adopt to strengthen customer loyalty?
Garvin: eDwaaso offers a seamless experience while buying online. Registered customers have a unique feature of gaining points by signing up, purchasing, and sharing products on social media or email. These points can be redeemed as discounts on the next purchase. Frequent buyers are allocated points which can be used to purchase any item on the platform.
FA: Just like any start-up, building Sika Trader & eDwaaso was not an easy road. What was the greatest challenge you had to face? How did you overcome it? How do you foresee the future prospects in your line of business locally, and globally?
Garvin: We have had to navigate and grow through various hurdles in our journey. Finding merchants, uploading products, running backend operations (including product fulfillment), advertising, and pushing sales online has been challenging. While some merchants were just not interested, others are interested but did not have time to upload products onto the portal. We quickly realized we had to support merchants with uploads. We also uploaded 30% of available stock to enable us to manage inventory since we did not have visibility into the inventory at the sellers’ stores. Most of our teams had to double-hat just to fulfill a sale or engage customers online. With these experiences over the years and a growing digital population, we believe we are positioned to support all businesses both locally and internationally to become more digital and to become more successful in this new digital age.
FA: Security is key for online retail markets. In what ways have you secured eDwaaso to ensure safety and confidentiality?
Garvin: Information security is extremely critical online. It starts from the person accessing the portal, the portal itself, the data being transported, the medium of transport all the way to the backend servers. Information on the portal is stored securely on AWS with various encryption that prevents unauthorized access and also alerts us anytime there is such. The portal is signed with a TLS 3.0 certificate, this is the same used for all secure sites online that starts with HTTPS://. We also have partnerships with banks hence 3D security and all card security capabilities are available on any card or mobile money transaction.
FA: How does a business sign up to sell on eDwaaso?
Garvin: Step 1: Go to eDwaaso.com click on become a seller and Register, Step 2: wait for approval and communication from customer service, Step 3: Upload your profile, products, and services, Step 4: Enjoy promotions and marketing, step 5: Get ready for sales.
FA: What makes it easier or more convenient to shop on eDwaaso?
Garvin: To buy a product from edwaaso is very simple, not complicated. Our shopping categories, allows customers to easily identify and buy products of premium quality from the authorized dealers of trusted brands within few minutes without hassle. Kindly watch the video link provided to follow the easy steps on how to shop on www.edwaaso.com.