First time I heard of Taafoo, I was in my third year in the university. It seemed like a pretty good deal way back then, and all my classmates got their girlfriends gifts from there. I checked the site out, seemed nice, but back then, luckily enough, I had no girlfriends so I didn’t see the need to use their services just yet. Time passed and so did the idea of Taafoo as an ecommerce site, I had found Amazon.
Then came the other sites, 3stiches (which was later added to Konga Fashion), then Dealdey, I loved it so much because of the restaurant deals, almost all my orders on that site are still food related, Jumia and Konga came in later and they officially changed the playing field. So now I ask myself, how did Taafoo get left behind in all this? I mean they got here first didn’t they. Feels pretty much like IBM, only this time, they didn’t make (or haven’t made) a comeback.
So how did Taafoo go so wrong? Where did they make a mistake? These are the questions I keep asking, and though I don’t have an MBA in business strategy or something, I have a few guesses.
1. The Site
Four years ago, it would have been acceptable to make a site that didn’t look very appealing to the customers as long as it provided value to them. Coming back to 2013, it’s unacceptable. The world of the web is one that requires presence, a brand, as most of us have come to know it. I once wrote a blog post that asked “What is your website wearing?” and when I think of Taafoo, all I see is some clownish looking salesman on the road trying to sell high end parts.
Now I’m not criticizing them for not looking good from the start, I’m wondering how they couldn’t see what other people were doing and at the very least tag along. Instead they spend money printing fliers and sharing to people in buses! If that money is used to redesign the site and re-brand the company, I am pretty sure more people would consider them.
It might not be common news that Taafoo didn’t start out as an ecommerce platform, I mean, I didn’t know till when I started doing my research for this post, so in a way they have grown right, at least they saw an opportunity and took it. But that’s not all it takes to win now is it? Looking at companies like Konga lead the way in using innovation (in a sense) to win the heart of Nigerians with content marketing and pickup points in Lagos… you would think its competitors would learn, or at least try to, and come up with their own value propositions. But somehow they do not.
I didn’t want this to be a long post, so I’m stopping there for now. Some of you might wonder why I sound angry or a bit harsh, frankly, it’s because it pains me in an odd way. Taafoo lost a golden opportunity to take the lead in a new market, or at least be a competitor. They just somehow slid into a mediocre state and are making all the wrong efforts to get out of it.
If by any chance a staff of Taafoo is reading this, and hopefully someone in the right position, ask yourself… “What is Taafoo’s value proposition?” similar sites like Kaymu have the “Kaymu Buyer Protection”, Konga says it’ll match any lower price online on electronics, Jumia says it has the most inventory yet and these are just a few, but what is Taafoo supposed to be known for?
I don’t know what your sales are like, so I don’t know if you’re still in business, but I know you can be better. So sit up, take the challenge and do something worthwhile. That’s my message to you.