While not as big as Jumia and Konga, Shoppi.ng is likely the biggest e-commerce platform in Nigeria that you’ve never heard of. And the startup is doing interesting things too. Like acquiring other startups. A Shoppi.ng spokesperson has informed TechCabal that they have acqui-hired two smaller online stores, Buynownow.com and 1500Naira.com in a cash and stock deal.
The individuals involved declined comment on the value of the deal. But even if we don’t know what Shoppi.ng paid for the stores, we at least have some idea of what they are acquiring. The three year old BuyNowNow, a merchant marketplace was snapped up mostly for its 200 merchants and the founder, Mayowa Owolabi, who will be joining Shoppi.ng’s team in a strategic capacity. Mayowa is a serial internet entrepreneur and Nigerian startup veteran, with previous projects including Dudumobile and Gbedumobile.
1500Naira, like its name implies, sells all its products for N1,500 with its breakout most popular item being NYSC kits that come into high demand among thousands of Nigerian youth corpers at least three times a year. Juwon Osobu, its CEO is coming to Shoppi.ng with himself and the merchants already signed up to his platform. Jobberman’s Opeyemi Awoyemi is also a co-founder and angel investor in 1500Naira.com.
Both stores are still running, but will eventually achieve operational integration with Shoppi.ng down the line.
Shoppi.ng on the other hand, is something of a puzzle. When it was preparing to launch around this time last year, it looked like it would shoot all the way up into the lead with the big J and K. But somehow, we haven’t seen that much visible action from their end. On the front end at least. The website still sports a predominantly merchant-facing interface and not a lot of the marketplace that it promises to be.
However, we are told that Shoppi.ng is currently invested in a lot of offline legwork that includes merchant education and agent recruitment. Perhaps the most obvious benefits of their new acquisitions will be an immediate boost to their customer-facing and sales operations.
Shopp.ing’s backers/management are moneyed and well connected though, so everything is probably going according to plan. The platform is managed by Wole Lawani, a VC and private equity practioner as well as member the Lagos Angel Network.
But then again Nigeria’s ecommerce ante just got upped again with Konga’s $25 million raise bringing the total of known e-commerce investment to almost $100 million. It is early days, the addressible market is yet to mature and all, but the stakes are increasingly getting higher for Shoppi.ng and all others who want a piece of Nigeria’s online retail pie.
In any case, the first week of the year is hardly out, and things are already happening. One of the biggest questions of 2013 was “where are the exits?” Well, here you go. Local acquisitions/exits like these, albeit small are a good sign and hopefully an optimistic portent for activity in the ecosystem for 2014.