Oveem is an online shopping and delivery platform for fresh fruits and vegetables, designed to meet the high demands of the Nigerian consuming society and minimize the traffic gridlocks experienced by regular shoppers who go to physical/local shops to do their daily/weekly fruits and veggies shopping. The site is supposed to make you feel like you are at a great farmers’ market, except online.
The website shows eight categories of fruits and vegetables, as well as salads and smoothies and promises to deliver within 24 hours. Oveem currently delivers to these areas in Lagos: Apapa, Ikeja, Ikoyi, Isolo, Victoria Island, Lagos Island, Lekki, Surulere and Yaba.
In addition to the online grocery store, the company also provides choice recipes of healthy meals.
Oveem will not be the first attempt at delivering fruits and vegetables in Nigeria. A site called MHQ launched in 2012 to sell fundamental household items as well as pepper, onions and rodo.
In a Q&A session with Josiah Uma, we got answers to some pertinent questions; of course the first question on my mind concerned pricing.
Why is the minimum order price #2000?
In the first place, we decided to have a minimum order price in order to check that orders are not abused by customers placing very small orders to be delivered. The minimum price was set as a result of feedback gotten from potential customers during our initial market research before launching our service. Most people requested that based on the sort of products we deliver, a minimum of N2000 on an average would be fair.
Despite the number of physical stores available in Nigeria, Oveem founders, Josiah Uma and Mike Okunonke, believe the service has a unique appeal, that is, the fact that it is an online store, that offers customers the flexibility and comfort of shopping on the go, and then delivers all shopped items in the best hygienic condition.
What convinced you that Oveem was a ‘winning idea’ despite the overwhelming number of physical stores we have in Nigeria?
Well, first of all, I wouldn’t call Oveem a “winning idea” as such! Oveem is just a unique service targeting a particular niche in the retail food sector and trying to help meet one of the numerous needs in our society. Speaking of overwhelming number of physical stores in Nigeria, research shows that currently, Nigeria’s retail food sector consists of supermarkets, convenience stores, and traditional open-air markets sharing 1.0%, 34% and 65% of retail food sales respectively. It is important to note that although the traditional open-air markets are the dominant channel for food sales, they are however the least convenient for customers, on the other hand, supermarkets which are meant to provide consumers with the best shopping experience are only a few in some strategic locations in the country, therefore consumers demands are not efficiently being met. In Lagos the only big supermarkets we have are “Shoprite” and “Spar” whereas in more developed countries you have multiple grocery stores to choose from, meeting the variety of needs of the consumer and minimizing monopoly. The need for Oveem.com.ng stems from the current rise in health consciousness of consumers as well as traffic gridlocks experienced by regular shoppers who go to one of the very few physical retail stores for their fruits and vegetable shopping.
Nigerians are generally late adopters and skeptics. How has this affected the spread and progress of Oveem?
Generally we think the response has been quite impressive judging from the number of customers and return users we get shopping from Oveem Store. Although we haven’t made any major public advertisement yet, we however have made reasonable number of sales via word of mouth publicity and social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). We believe one of the reasons why we get a high number of returning customers will be due to our high quality service and products.
The question that most people have had and are currently having is about quality. Everyone, I inclusive, want to know how an online grocery store guarantees quality.
How do you guarantee the freshness of groceries considering their perishable nature; and what challenges do you have with storage?
Well, we have ultimately decided to go with a more low risk approach. We employ suppliers who are independent wholesale fruits and vegetable sellers and farm owners. We work closely with them to supply us the best fresh products for our customers, because they are also farm owners, this guarantees that they receive fresh products 2-3 times a day. We rarely handle storage ourselves.
What concerns do you have about the future of Oveem as an online store; and what are your long term plans for the store?
Our major concern now is competition from the big physical stores deciding to go online, however we still believe if we work hard towards capturing our niche well enough and continue to provide both high quality service as well as product, we will gain customer loyalty to handle that situation when it rises. Our future plan would be to own our farms and produce most of the local products ourselves as well as have the capacity of handling storage. In addition we would also hope to eliminate the middle man when it comes to imported products; we are currently working towards that. We have quite a number of long term plans for the store which we are sure TechCabal.com would see unfold in due time.
Oveem was launched on the 2nd of February, 2014.