While students are typically not known to be big spenders, the student market is not one to be ignored. Millennials are more in tune with technology and that is why it’s not surprising that a majority of them find indulging in online shopping on their smartphones, laptops, and tablets is a much easier alternative than visiting a physical store.
Most students in campuses on remote location like Moi University have always had difficulties accessing daily supplies like groceries, snacks and grooming products among other things.
Isaiah Manyala saw this opportunity to dropship items to campus mates for a profit and thus the idea of unimall.co.ke an online shopping mall for Moi University students.
We caught up with him to learn more about the online store…
Karemi: What inspired Unimall?
Isaiah: Unimall is an idea that has been for as early as 2013. When I met with a few of my friends, we talked about a lot of things that could make life much easier in the campus. We thought of how best the students could get a variety of goods that are equally matching to their cash.
That’s how the idea of an online shopping Unimall was born.
Karemi: What sorts of products are you most interested in selling through your platform?
Isaiah: We do a research and get to know what students need. That’s what we go ahead and stock. For instance, we’ve heard engineering students are looking for project components. We are working on getting a partner who would offer the same to students at a fair price.
That notwithstanding, we currently offer products ranging from foodstuffs, drinks, wine, alcohol, cosmetics, confectionery, clothing, electronics, and gifts, among other things.
Karemi: I see you have same day delivery on some products. How are you able to fulfill your orders?
Isaiah: We have partnered with some local matatus who deliver products to our team in campus who then pick it from there and deliver right to the student’s hostel or room as indicated on the order slip.
For instance, if it’s pizza, we source it from our partner in Eldoret town and ensure it gets delivered within an hour after ordering to our clients. We also stock selected products which we can deliver at a moment’s notice.
For Smartphones and other electronics, we have partners in Nairobi who ship to us and we have the items delivered in not more than 2 days. We always keep the urgency of our clients at heart.
Karemi: Who are some of the partners you’re working with?
Isaiah: Our main supplier is Ukwala supermarket, but, we also work with individual merchants with the best quality products at affordable rates. For electronics, we are currently working with Oppo and Xtigi.
Karemi: How do you make your profit?
Isaiah: We get products at discounted wholesale price and list them with a small margin which sometimes is cheaper than if you visit the physical store. We also charge a slight delivery fee that takes care of the transportation costs.
Karemi: Walk us through your payment system
Isaiah: Our payment system is unique. Students simply enter their phone number, then a pop up will show on their smartphone where they simply enter the registered pin and they are done placing the order. This is different from the conventional method of entering the pay bill, amount, the account number which is error prone in some cases.
Moreover, you can have someone else pay for your order. Imagine a scenario where you shop and enter your parent’s phone number to complete the purchase for you? That’s what students really like with our platform.
Karemi: How many employees do you have?
Isaiah: We are a team of 9 guys with different responsibilities to ensure the business is running efficiently. We also have strategic partners that have invested a lot to make this happen.
Karemi: What are your immediate future plans?
Isaiah: We want it to remain a student’s shopping platform and grow Unimall to transit into other campuses countrywide. We still have a lot to do. Our immediate plans will be driven by what students request. We want to provide the most secure and convenient shopping experience for students while they are in between classes and other academic activities.
A lot of students prefer doing their shopping online, especially since the shops are really far away from their accommodation. It’s much easier having purchases come to their door instead. Unimall is a great venture and looks to quickly grow. Go check it out on www.unimall.co.ke