Reinventing retail options for business
A search for prime spot for their outlet in Nairobi saw Waweru Nderitu and his wife Hellen set up a solution to help enreprenuers sell their products without the hassle of renting huge spaces
Milliam Murigi @millymur1
Getting premises in the Nairobi Central Business District is a costly affair. This has been keeping many potential entrepreneurs at bay.
However, a new solution by Waweru Nderitu is set to change all this.
Dubbed rent–a–shelf, this is an innovative solution by Notify Logistics, a company that gives entrepreneurs dedicated shelf-space in any of their fully serviced shops in prime locations in Nairobi CBD.
With this solution you don’t have to pay goodwill for space and three-months’ rent deposits, which is a norm with many business premises; no paying salaries to shop attendants or managing them, you simply stock and start selling.
“This is a model set to transform the business industry. We identify a shop in a prime location in an urban centre and partition it into shelves.
We then hire shop attendants and get all the necessary licenses for the shop.
After that, we open it and invite businesses to rent a shelf without necessarily owning the whole shop,” says Waweru Nderitu, Chief Executive Officer, Notify Logistics.
Like every other great company, Notify Logistics, a family business, was born from a problem.
In 2016, Nderitu and his wife Hellen could not afford retail space for their business in the CBD.
This forced them to sell their products online. At first, the business was good, but as more orders kept flowing, a new challenge was born: people couldn’t trust them and all they wanted was for them to have a physical shop.
Out of the box
This made Hellen think outside the box. With the little savings they had, she managed to rent a shop. She then brought on board other online entrepreneurs to co-share space at a fee.
Though at first, this idea was to help her raise the required rent, the couple saw a business opportunity and in 2018 they decided to start a company focused on providing all logistical needs of a modern online business.
“We decided to commercialise the idea after realising she was making a good profit out of it.
She had brought on board 12 vendors who were paying her Sh5,000 every month yet rent used to be Sh18,000.
Other vendors were willing to come on board, but space was limited,” adds the 32-years-old.
In 2019, the two registered Notify Logistics as a limited company and opened the door for their first shop located along Moi Avenue, Nairobi, which could accommodate about 80 vendors.
Within no time the shop was full. In late February 2019, they opened their second shop.
By May same year, they opened the door for their third shop and they have never looked back.
Now they have shops not only in Nairobi, but also in Nakuru, Eldoret, and Mombasa.
“Our core business is to ensure your online business gets all it needs to thrive and grow, a mission that has seen us grow to over 800 members in our Notify Community,” he says.
Their target customers include entrepreneurs with online shops; full-time employees with side business, but are not able to interact with clients while at work; and entrepreneurs with shops outside the CBD.
The best thing about this solution is that once a client shops for products online they have the opportunity to see it first and even try the product before buying.
To ensure no client loses his/her money, once a buyer pay for a product online, the payment goes to Notify Logistics first before it is released to the vendor once to product is collected.
“Vendors pay about Sh3,000 per month for a shelf plus Sh3,000 service charge paid once.
The shelves are big enough to accommodate a good number of products that would otherwise cost them Sh60,000.
We also have extra storage space for products that cannot fit on shelves.
We have delivery services on behalf of vendors, allowing business owners to focus on growing their brands while we handle all logistical aspects of their business,” he explains.
Once a vendor joins the Notify community, they get an inventory management software that helps them manage their sales and inventory from their phones; enjoy free monthly trainings on how to make their business successful; and access an online marketplace the company runs.
Apart from that vendors are also able to access a wider network of their shops as drop-off points for their products.
They also offer a free personal accident insurance cover of up to Sh250,000 to their clients.
Currently, the company has 14 shops in six locations. The biggest and latest can accommodate about 1,400 vendors. They plan to expand to other counties as well as other African countries.
As the pioneers of this model, their biggest challenge is that they have no one to look up to and they have been learning from their own mistakes.
He reveals that at first, the management of all vendors was a big challenge. That is why they automated the whole process.
“There is a day we lost about Sh25,000 to a certain influencer we had hired to advertise our business.
Instead of doing what we had agreed on, the person stole our idea and eventually opened a shop with our model,” he says in conclusion.