By Joseph Okoghenun
I see a growing similarity between The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), one of Nigerian’s biggest Pentecostal churches, and Konga, Nigeria’s foremost composite e-commerce giant in their mode of operations.
In Nigeria today, there is hardly any street where one cannot find a branch of RCCG. The church has become ubiquitous. In Christendom, RCCG certainly has no rival in terms of spread, and no one has ever dared to compete with the Pastor Enoch Adeboye led-church in that regard. The strategy has certainly worked for the religious body.
Interestingly, Konga seems to be following the same strategy. In its seven years of existence, Konga has expanded the scope of the e-commerce operations in Nigeria with its retail roll-out strategy. As disclosed by the company, Konga currently has over 31 retail stores. Indeed, it is hard to miss the attractive Konga fuchsia colour dotting the landscape with its rapidly growing stores – a factor which now makes every fuchsia-painted building appear like a Konga store.
This is also the strength of the RCCG brand equity. Every beautifully constructed house of worship is now assumed an RCCG church, if not closely scrutinized.
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Due to the nature of my job, I have the privilege of travelling to various states in Nigeria every month to engage customers in this trying times. It is rather unbelievable the massive spread of the Konga retail store. Whether it is in Warri, Kano, Uyo, Asaba or Ibadan, just to mention a few, you cannot miss the imposing colour and signage, thereby leaving one wondering what their strategy is.
Last Monday, I had a challenge with my laptop and I asked my neighbour who is an IT expert where I could buy a reasonably priced HP laptop in Lagos. He volunteered a number of places, including the smart Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos, but advised that before I finally buy, I should check prices on Konga as he was sure Konga had the best prices.
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I did as my neighbour advised. I went to the Konga Online Marketplace App, which I had installed on my phone to check for the price and specifications of the available HP laptops.
After checking the price range and functionalities of the various HP brands available, I settled for the HP Spectre, which is a perfect device for me, especially considering the nature of my work. Thereafter, I needed to cross-check the price with what was obtainable in Computer Village. Hence, I put calls through to some of the contacts in Computer Village my neighbour had given to me.
Surprisingly, the prices I got from them all were far higher than what I got from Konga. Considering that I needed to endure heavy traffic in various parts of Lagos to get to Computer Village amidst my busy schedule, I did not think twice before settling for Konga to place the order. In the comfort of my bedroom, I placed the order before I went out. Since I knew that my movement wouldn’t be certain on that Monday and I would be attending a series of meetings, I directed that the laptop should be dropped at the Konga retail store located at Third Roundabout on Lekki-Epe Express Way, Ikate, Lekki Phase 2, Lagos, close to where I live, for onward pick up.
Throughout that day, I was too busy to have time to pick up the laptop. On Tuesday, I went to the Konga retail store. Since the store was opened this year, Tuesday was the first time I was using it. When I went to pick up the HP laptop on Tuesday, I was pleasantly impressed by the courteous service I received from the attendants at the store, and the aesthetical layout of the place.
Further raising my impressions was the fact that all my attempts to give the attendants a tip for their wonderful service was politely rejected. In fact, they informed me that the practice was against the company policy. I was really impressed by what I saw and observed.
Curiously, I also noticed that the store is located in a strategic place not far off from a branch of RCCG. I don’t know whether this is also a deliberate strategy by the new Konga owners to have some of their stores located close to branches of the biggest Pentecostal church in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, the Konga store located at Redemption Crescent, Gbagada, is adjacent to a branch of RCCG. The affinity between the two brands is becoming too glaring for anyone not to notice.
My visit to Konga store also afforded me the opportunity to meet with the Konga CEO, Prince Nnamdi Ekeh for the first time. Unassuming and smart, the young Prince Nnamdi was entering the store while I and other customers were about leaving the place. As soon as he entered, he greeted all of us warmly and asked about our welfare. I replied in the affirmative but enquired if we had met before.
Beaming with a huge smile, Prince Nnamdi humbly replied in the negative, but explained that as the CEO of Konga, it was his responsibility to see that the welfare of Konga customers was taken care of always.
I was really marveled by the simplicity of the young CEO that I decided to exchange contacts with him. Surprise is an understatement when I later received a call from Prince Nnamdi that evening, asking whether I got home safely and how I was enjoying my new HP laptop.
I was marveled by his sincerity of purpose so much that I wondered whether he is also a pastor in RCCG – the brand I assume Konga is imitating in their retail rollout. I had to scan through the CEO’s profile on the internet.
Subsequently, I got to know that Prince Nnamdi’s life has been all about e-commerce. He was just 23 when he founded Yudala – a bold and ambitious e-commerce outpost, which later merged operations with Konga in 2018. In fact, I got to know that Konga imbibed its retail store strategy from Yudala, which pioneered the model in the global e-commerce sector.
The merger, no doubt, has repositioned Konga from a business, operational and quality service delivery standpoint, with cutting-edge efficiency to drive the company’s operations, including its retail stores.
The relevance of expanding the Konga brick-and mortar presence in the manner of RCCG cannot be understated. Despite the marginal growth of e-commerce since the turn of the decade in Nigeria, the market has faced significant challenges. These include poor road infrastructure, delivery and inconsistent addressing system which have encumbered a number of players. Anybody who has worked in the logistics sector of our economy as I have done will understand the point being made here.
Although the RCCG may not have encountered such challenges with its every-street-branch operational model, it is apparent that this model remains the best for reaching many more potential shoppers in our clime, as Konga model has shown.
For instance, how do you deliver a product to remote areas where there are no roads or traceable addresses? But a nearby retail store, which doubles as a pick-up centre, will solve such challenges, as it has done for Konga. The foregoing appears the reason Konga is following in the RCCG’s footsteps.