How shifting customer expectations is driving Digital Transformation
As part of an ongoing series of conversations with Digital Transformation Leaders, I was honored to meet with Brian Matsiko, who is the Founder & CEO of Bringo Fresh. We talked about farmers, markets, price transparency, Bringo Fresh app, and how to tackle the issue of consumer perception circa digital platforms.
About Brian Matsiko
Brian is the Founder and CEO of Bringo Fresh. He is currently using technology to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers. He believes in fair prices for both the consumers and farmers. Bringo Fresh was birthed to help working professionals and businessmen access affordable quality fresh produce online, and it’s delivered to their home or office in quick time.
Why did you choose to start your business on a digital platform?
Like you said; the world is changing. Working professionals and businessmen are too busy. The traffic congestion in African cities (Kampala in particular), is alarming due to a number of factors including narrow roads, therefore accessing commodity markets is difficult and frustrating.
Often times, you have seen working professionals buying poor quality produce expensively on the roadside markets. Some have opted for fast foods because they are cheaper today, but which may be expensive in a long-run (Lifestyle diseases which are expensive to treat).
Customers do not have to spend on fuel, to go to markets, through traffic jam for hours, and buy poor quality produce expensively. This is not fair. For every Bringo Bike on the road, means 4 vehicles off the road and this also reduces on emissions. So, by a click on your mobile phone or computer, you can receive affordable quality fresh produce, at your door step in quick time.
How long does it take between order and delivery?
Bringo Fresh has four delivery days in a week that is, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. This helps us to plan our deliveries and deliver fresh quality produce to our customers in quick time. It takes not more than an hour to deliver fresh produce to our clients’ door steps, depending on the distance.
We talked of some of the challenges that digital businesses are experiencing. We have a perception problem on the consumer side. Could you talk a bit about this?
We care about what you eat and where it comes from, that is why we are working closely with small-holder farmers to negotiate fair prices that will put a smile on both the farmers’ and the consumers’ faces. So the perception of online platforms (Bringo Fresh) being expensive to consumers, in this case, is not true. Bringo Fresh was birthed to create a solution to the already said problems, and we will stick to that. For instance a watermelon that costs between Ugx 8,000-10,000/= in the market, costs Ugx 5,000/= on our platform. Therefore, we need to change this perception, and enable our customers to eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle.
How do you think we will solve this problem of perception?
Place your first order with us (Bringo Fresh) and test the first time experience. I am sure you will refer your close friends to subscribe to the platform.
This year we are launching a Children’s Health Program. This will enable parents, teachers and children to learn more about food, eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle.
Timothy: I like the fact that this program is more about the experience than just about the product. I have been on radio telling the listeners that these days it is not about directly selling a product - this is an old school way of doing things. The customer today wants an experience around the product, that makes them understand the product, which then leads them to buy the product. Obesity is a big problem in Uganda. Lifestyle is the biggest culprit and food is a very big part of this.
Has the policy environment been kind to Bringo Fresh?
When government introduced Over The Top tax [OTT] that affected us quiet a lot. Our customers started spending less time on social media [Bringo Fresh leverages social media heavily for marketing]. This affected the flow of information reaching our potential customers. We need to do a lot more to educate our customers about digital platforms & how they can improve their lives.
Timothy: From previous interviews that I have had with other Digital Business leaders, it has been mentioned many times that the National Payment Systems bill might slow down the pace of innovation in the young FinTech space. There are digital platforms in Uganda today that have introduced cashless payment systems on their platforms. Customers can move money from their bank account to their platform account. These platforms have also started giving loans to their customers and are offering value services like insurance to their customers on their platform. What this means is that digital businesses have gone beyond just delivering on their core service and are now operating like a FinTech company. So, the policy risk here is that the NPS bill, if not amended, might curtail the pace that these companies can innovate internally with FinTech related services. This might not affect Bringo Fresh directly today but if you are thinking of venturing into the FinTech space in the future; if you start looking to give farmers loans and insurance services then the NPS bill will affect Bringo Fresh. The digital platforms that succeed are those that go beyond just the core business and start building communities around their business. FinTech is at the heart of community building and the NPS bill will affect incoming players in the FinTech ecosystem.
How do you get your customers engaged on your app?
We use events and social media to disseminate information regarding the Bringo Fresh app and website. We have also tried other marketing tools like influencers, stickers, flyers.
Timothy: Your branding is on point. It’s clean. It’s high quality. It’s exotic. We want to be able to raise the bar to a level where everybody, when they look at any brand for first time, should be like this an amazing international level branding, and that is a good thing. Bringo Fresh is doing a great job with high quality branding.
What are some the big achievements of Bringo Fresh?
We participated in Seedstars World competition, for the first time, and won third place. This was around the time we launched. We discovered that most of those who were ahead of us were actually not startups – they had been there for sometime. It was a big achievement for us as a team.
Our sales have grown since July 2018. People are starting to appreciate that they can order fresh quality produce online and receive it at home or at their workplace. We have increased our farmer database to 200 small-holder farmers, both organic and conventional.
Timothy: My observation is that for farmers, where they see organization, they will be more than willing to sign up. Anything that will take out the middleman and give them a fair share for their produce will be a win-win for the farmer. This is the value that Bringo Fresh is bringing to the farmer. I can see why the supply of farmers would grow at the backend.
We have a big perception issue in Uganda and our neighbors in the region have a much bigger market. Why?
Digital revolution has completely transformed how business is done in our neighboring countries like Kenya. More and more consumers are embracing the new-age technological trends. For instance approximately 70 percent of Kenyans shop online every day. Ugandans need to learn from this revolution, and improve their lives (speed of transactions, improvements in employees’ efficiency, and quick communication) to grow their economy.