Innovator Alphonce Juma is a man who knows no defeat. After trying and failing six times to create an online market for goods and services, he says the current platform he has rolled out will be a roaring success.
He says it is time Kenyans fully embraced online business to save money, time and create jobs.
Three weeks ago, the 32-year-old innovator launched “MyBigOrder”, an online order app that aims at creating efficiency in the Kenyan market – cutting costs for customers and merchants, and creating jobs in the transport sector.
“MyBigOrder is an app that links merchants directly to their customers and vice versa,” he says during an interview.
To work smoothly, the application has been divided into three sections: The customers app, merchants app and drivers app.
“When a customer places an order, the app automatically locates the nearest merchant. Once the merchant (business person) sees the order, he locates the nearest driver and gives him the order to deliver,” he says.
MyBigOrder is a better version of the Kenya Online, which he launched two years ago under the Oracom Web Solutions, a company based in Nairobi.
He says while Kenya Online was a great idea, “the website was heavy, technical and it used to load slowly on the Internet”.
Kenya Online was the sixth attempt to create a platform that would solve numerous challenges in the Kenyan market. He has been banking on the mobile phone users who now stand at 40 million to make his platform viable.
His first attempt was in 2012 when he started the ACP-Directory, but it failed. He tried again the following year and developed the ACP World Cultures, but failed again.
Despite these series of failures, Mr Juma did not relent. He developed other succession of platforms — KE Directory, Ora-Online business and the finally the Kenya Online.
“My online business idea was conceived in 2012. Despite it failing six times, I am certain that this seventh attempt is the icebreaker,” he says of his latest innovation, the MyBigOrder.
Mr Juma notes that he is confident this latest innovation will succeed because he has taken into accounts all the lessons from his previous applications.
“Previously we did not understand our clients’ needs, but now we do because we have learnt from our past mistakes,” says Mr Juma.
As part of efforts to seal the loopholes in his app, he has incorporated a “delivery” solution in MyBigOrder app so that orders received by merchants through the platform are delivered to the doorstep of the client.
The drivers’ app works like Uber. The driver is notified about a delivery through the app by a merchant. The nearest driver collects the goods and delivers them to the owner.
Customers can make orders also online on the MyBigOrder website.
According to Mr Juma, a customer is able to track goods on transit from the time of loading to the time of delivery through the app, or online and can also place an order anywhere in the world.
The app can be downloaded in the Google app (play) store or online, he explained.
“We are solving the problem of time taken from when you order a product and when you receive it. Through the app, the time spent to get a product is reduced,” he says.
“We have simplified the process of buying, selling and delivering of goods. At the same time we have kept brokers at bay because customers are able to access business men directly.”
The app uses the geofencing technology, which utilises the Global Positioning System (GPS) or radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to locate goods or merchants.
“A customer is able to get a notification of a product he/she is interested to buy in a given location. Customers, therefore, get products at cheaper prices because it means that they do not have to drive a longer distance to get the items,” says Mr Juma, adding the products’ prices are reduced further because customers get the products directly from the seller (merchant) .
Merchants, he says are able to sell directly to their customers, meaning that they can sell more. They can manage orders through SMS too.
“They can save on costs on delivery, labour and rentals, in addition to the fact that there is efficiency in managing orders,” he says.
Long queues at companies or wholesale shops are also reduced, he notes adding that the app has created employment avenue for drivers of cars, trucks, lorries, motorbikes, tuk tuks, bicycle riders and porters.
“We are signing six merchants every day. For the past three weeks, we have signed 84. We believe that it is going to work because we have combined different platforms to increase efficiency in the market,” says the developer.
But, due to the increased cases of online fraud, all the businessmen who use the app (on mobile or online) have been verified to ensure that they are genuine and not out to steal from consumers.
“They (merchants) have to present their registration documents, Kenya Revenue Authority PIN and other necessary documents,” says Mr Juma.
The merchants signing up on MyBigOrder platform include big companies, start-ups and short and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), he says.