Virtual household mall OLX has introduced a fresh produce portal where customers can order and pay through mobile cash and the items delivered at the doorstep of their homes or offices.
OLX head of user operations in East Africa, Ms Penny Wambui, said the new portal currently being piloted in Nairobi will soon be rolled out countrywide. This would enable market traders to have direct non-personal contact with consumers.
There are plans to also link farmers directly with consumers via the same medium, thus weeding out middlemen and brokers.
“We have partnered with delivery channel Yum to make prompt deliveries to clients and the business has shown a steady growth since inception. Most clients prefer fresh vegetables and fruits, which they order while at work to be delivered to them at select locations,” she said.
Fresh produce on demand
Ms Wambui said OLX has also noted a growing interest among institutional customers who order fresh produce on demand. This, she said has helped in reducing wastage caused by lack of proper storage.
“Many institutions no longer buy in bulk since they are sure to find their fresh supplies from an online market that is alive 24 hours a day. The traders present their available fresh produce from cabbages, kales, tomatoes, potatoes and others with every item’s price clearly indicated which also enable customers to choose from a variety of sellers,” she said.
Ms Wambui said OLX will soon partner with farmers and establish a direct link with traders who have in the past solely relied on road transporters to procure fresh produce from various parts of the country.
She said the OLX-Yum partnership also enables buyers to source for items from their nearest shops, reducing the cost and time spent on delivery.
The move is likely to disrupt the traditional supply chain as farmers will directly access markets and bargain for better returns and traders pay them directly as OLX-YUM deals with delivery.
OLX Head of Business Development and Marketing Priscilla Muhiu said the new platform will reduce costs of transport incurred by fresh produce buyers as they will be able to source items from the nearest sellers.
“This is big value trade that has seen farmers exploited heavily since time immemorial with customers forced to pay costly prices by traders keen on recouping their investments after paying brokers,” she said. “In the traders-farmers’ platform, we will partner with farmers directly indicating their location enabling traders to make the best choices.”
OLX, said Ms Wambui, is optimistic that the new line of business will benefit all players as it has established delivery networks and is in constant touch with clients who patronise their site daily.
OLX made its name in the past year selling used household items.
By James Kariuki