- You probably are planning to go for your next grocery shopping this weekend. For many, this is a daunting task - given certain circumstances.
You probably are planning to go for your next grocery shopping this weekend. For many, this is a daunting task - given certain circumstances.
Things like having to wake up at dawn to get the best prices, driving miles from home to the cheapest market - and sometimes enduring unfavaourable weather conditions...
Good news. Thanks to technology, you no longer need to physically go to the market to get your groceries. GengeXpress, an online grocery store just a click away has made life easier.
All you have to do is place an order - and, before you know it, your groceries would be delivered at your doorstep. The digital shopping centre guarantees you three things: affordability, quality and speed.
Established in March 2020, GengeXpress was co-founded by Jacob Balyagati and Mzelu Malongo, the head office being in Masaki, Dar es Salaam.
Media Convergency recently caught up with Jacob, who unfolds the story and inspiration behind the establishment. He highlights on its operations and the impact it’s making on Dar es Salaam residents. GengeXpress’ main purpose is solving the challenge of inconvenience through technology.
Less than a year in the market, GengeXpress has been beneficial to its ever-increasing customers in many ways. One, through shaping their shopping behaviour for the better.
Jacob explains that, clients have been able to make savings at the end of the day thanks to reduced impulse purchases when shopping online. Since one has to precisely select what they need, it helps them avoid unnecessary spending.
GengeXpress helps shoppers stay organised. When one orders groceries online, they can save their shopping list for future use, helping them keep track of their monthly or weekly expenses. This also saves one the frustration of getting home to find they forgot to buy some items.
GengeXpress saves time as it helps you get all your groceries in a short time, giving you more time to engage in other activities. It is convenient as you can shop online any time of the day and get your needs delivered to your house instead of having to go physically to the market.
Jacob says; “We realised that one of the reasons people go to the market is not because they really like it but it’s because they want to be assured that what they are purchasing is the right thing they want as far as quality and value for money are concerned. We are trying to make sure this need is extended digitally without the need for that person to physically go to a particular market.”
How it was born
Reminiscing on the drive behind GengeXpress, Jacob remembers being on the receiving end of such services back in the day. The process of accessing groceries was frustrating because there were delays and lack of trust between him and the boda-boda guy he used to send to purchase the groceries.
“I saw an opportunity in my shopping frustrations and Mzelu and I brainstormed on how we could formalise shopping so that it could benefit a large group of people by using a digital platform that is robust, effective and efficient. That’s how GengeXpress came into being.”
GengeXpress doesn’t target a particular group of clients but cuts across all demographics. Unlike other similar initiatives that target women mostly, GengeXpress focuses on each individual who goes to the market to purchase groceries. They believe through their services, people can easily access their groceries affordability, fast and with quality.
What is unique about GengeXpress is that it offers a wide range of products from fruits, spices, food grains, vegetables, poultry and sea food.
What the customer needs to do is register on GengeXpress’ website, choose the language they prefer to use between ki-Swahili and English then select the items they want.
The website also has options for new customers to look at the way the prices vary from different vendors. One can look at the top selling products and the most liked products before buying. For those using a featured phone they can dial +255 743 107 661 to make an order.
“Once a person places an order, there is a team of people who receive the orders, go to the market and select what has been ordered. We then call the customer to confirm the goods they ordered. We conduct due diligence of quality control and assurance, making sure all purchased products are fresh and of good quality,” says Jacob.
“Then we clean and re-pack the products. It is only after this process that the orders are handed to the delivery guy, whom we track to the point when the goods are delivered to the customer.”
GengeXpress markets its products through fliers that are distributed at different points, on social media, through word of mouth, friends and through a sales team that goes around different parts of Dar es Salaam for the same purpose.
Despite being only operational in Dar es Salaam, GengeXpress serves customers in other regions too. Jacob recalls a customer from Lindi who called to order a cauliflower. After shipping it to Lindi, they were shocked to learn that the customer had been serious and were delighted that people outside Dar es Salaam had heard about their service.
“Another notable success was how fast our platform got accepted by our customers without us putting much effort. That itself inspired me and my team to keep pushing forward.”
And in regard to the times of Covid-19, he says; “While our country had been declared Corona-free, during the pandemic people were more reluctant to go to crowded places. Most markets are usually very crowded and so people found GengeXpress to be one of the places they could run to for their daily grocery needs.”
Jacob looks forward to perfecting these experiences so that even post-Covid-19 people will still find the platform convenient to use rather than going physically to the market.
GengeXpress regrets jumping right into developing the platform at the very beginning, which took longer than necessary. No thorough research was conducted to know what they were getting themselves into from the establishment of collection centers to developing the right digital platform to designing their logo.
Jacob mentions the areas they currently desire to improve in their platform. “We want to widen our partnership portfolio to cater for different services for I believe the more partners we have within the platform, the more product range we can offer and the more customers we can secure,” Jacob said.
“We believe regardless of the surge of similar initiatives in the market, the demand for such services is still high. We look forward to offering all kinds of consumables to our customers, from pens, bags, utensils, groceries but in order to reach there we need to start somewhere and that is why we began with groceries.”
He advises young people to be optimistic, patient to have a dream and not sleep on it. “Work on it and never give up, it is not easy and if it was easy anybody would have done it.”
GengeXpress is positioning itself in the tech ecosystem as a one-stop digital shopping centre, giving job opportunities to youth, from sellers of market products to the team of sales at GengeXpress - and to the people delivering the products to the customers.
Further details of GengeXpress can be found through a video interview on Media Convergency YouTube channel and the online conversation about GengeXpress across all Media Convergency social media platforms using the hashtag #ImpactTechTZ
[Media Convergency Company