The folks over at BalogunMarket.ng are building an app that’ll make it easier for users to buy goods from merchants via chat. They’re calling it BuyChat and private beta testing will begin on October 1, 2016 (public beta doesn’t start until October 15).
BuyChat was inspired by BalogunMarket.ng, a startup founded by Olayinka Oluwakuse after an epiphany at a restaurant. According to him, “Nigerians will go online for what they know and are used to with just word-of-mouth advertising,” and that was where the idea for “conversational commerce” came from.
BalogunMarket.ng is an online marketplace that was launched so users could buy goods from Balogun Market (that’s an actual market in Lagos) without having to go through the stress of visiting the market. Few months down the line, and Olayinka and his team figured out a way to connect buyers and sellers on Whatsapp. Haggling is a major feature of commerce in Nigeria, and this new feature brought the entire experience online. Hence the term, “conversational commerce.”
BuyChat is BalogunMarket.ng’s Whatsapp feature and then some. It’s a “chat-commerce app” where users will be able to buy goods from merchants in local markets, book flights and hotels, order food from local restaurants (or bukas, if you want to call them that), and even connect with brands.
Just like with BalogunMarket.ng, BuyChat’s payment and delivery partners are SimplePay and Delivery.ng respectively. The plan is to expand to other cities in Africa and the BuyChat team has received angel investment from Lagos-based private investment firm, Niche Capital to set the wheels in motion.