A couple of months back, eCommerce startup, Konga opened up its online market place to third party retailers in Nigeria. Anyone from wholesalers to retailers to even roadside marketers could now have their product listings displayed on, and sold via, Konga. Konga hoped that by encouraging ” unrestricted yet structured” participation by these guys, they could drive mass adoption of eCommerce in Nigeria.

That was 8 months ago. I have done quite a bit of shopping on Konga since then but I had instinctively avoided third party product listings until recently. A non-techie family member enlisted my help to purchase a desktop external hard drive. My first instinct was to order it online from Konga. I have always had good experience with them, especially on delivery performance, so I didn’t think much of it, until the search results came back. None of the available 2TB external hard drives available was sold directly by Konga. I wasn’t so sure I wanted to place an order anymore. One  particular incident ordering from a third party seller on Amazon came to mind. How can I guarantee this product is new and authentic? What if I want to return it? After a brief hesitation, I brushed aside my doubts – I mean, it’s Konga – and clicked to checkout and pay online. Right there began my woes.

They take forever to dispatch

konga-third-party-seller

I forgot to mention that I was also ordering 16GB flash drives. These ones were directly from Konga. I got a call about the flash drives that evening and by the next day (or was it the day after?), they were delivered. No news on the external hard drive. Then on the 3rd or 4th day, I got a call from the third-party seller – they didn’t have the particular brand I ordered for, would I be interested in an alternative? I said that was fine, as long as the alternative is also a desktop external hard drive like the one I saw on Konga. They confirmed that it was and we ended the conversation. It took another few days for the item to be delivered, on a Sunday. I happened not to be home so someone to the delivery for me. Imagine my shock when I got home to find a portable external hard drive instead. I asked specifically for a desktop external.

Returning policies

Thankfully, the receipt came with the address and phone number of the third-party seller. I dialed the number but it was switched off, of course. It was the second day of the long Sallah holidays. Not many small business owners would do business until Wednesday. That was 3 full days away. At this point I was panicking – wasn’t Konga’s return policy 7 days? I Googled “Konga return policy“to further confirm my fears. Yes, Konga will accept rejected items 7 days after delivery, as long as they are non-detective and sold directly by them. How about third-party sellers?

The return policy for products sold by Marketplace Sellers can vary depending on the Seller, in some cases, Sellers may choose not to offer a return policy.

Gbese. Calm down, Muyiwa. Wait till Wednesday.

Wednesday couldn’t come soon enough. The same dude from last time picked up. This was obviously a one-man business. Turns out the dude didn’t know the difference between a desktop and portable external hard drive. He apologised profusely and promised to get back to me by the end of the day. He didn’t get back. I decided I was going to surprise him by visiting his shop the next day.

Konga apparently doesn’t verify business details

As (bad) luck would have it, the address on the receipt was a stub. There was no such shop by given name in given address. I was shocked. Disappointed at Konga. What followed was hours of back and forth with the retailer, trying to locate his presumably non-existent shop inside the chaos of Ojuelegba and then waiting forever for him to show up. I had made up my mind I was going to return the item and get my money back. He showed up like an hour or 2 later with the desktop external  I had originally ordered. Apparently he had rushed to the market to purchase it.

So at the end of the day, I got what I wanted but did I have to go through all that stress? Isn’t the point of online commerce to make buying and selling convenient for the customer? Of course, this is just my personal experience. There’s no guarantee that the experience will be the same for everyone. But the fact that I had to go through all that just to get one item reveals the possible loopholes in Konga’s Marketplace structure.

I still think Konga is a great service. Bu you might want to avoid purchasing items that aren’t sold directly by Konga. At least until they get this marketplace thing right.

In related news, Konga will start collecting commissions from third-party sellers who use Konga Marketplace beginning tomorrow. Until now, the service was free.

Muyiwa Matuluko | Author