Thank You OLX :) So Long Tonaton :(

On Thursday 10th March, 2016, I decided to sell my 5-month old Nokia Lumia 530 Dual SIM phone as I was bored-stiff with the Windows experience that limited me in the apps I could use, and also for the inadequate space to contain my existing apps. So I thought of placing an ad on an online marketplace, which would be the first time I would be selling online.

In Ghana, most people are familiar with two online marketplaces. The first is the relatively older Tonaton, launched in February 2013. The second, OLX Ghana, is quite a newbie, but gaining new grounds and growing at a fast pace. Both companies are foreign investments, though Tonaton is a local term which translates as “buy and sell” in the Twi language — the most popular local language spoken in Ghana.

We all woke up one day to see a new ad on TV: OLX, Everything Sells, Everything Sells!! Their name, brand and tagline as well as their concept was so ‘sticky’ that it left an imprint on our minds. At a point, I realised that among my friends, the first name someone would mention when planning on selling online was OLX.

Months earlier, a friend of mine had sold his iPhone 4 within a few days of posting it online. I was impressed with how quickly he had sold the phone. When I asked him, he said he put it up on both Tonaton and OLX and that’s what “made it go faster.” So I wanted to do same.

That Thursday evening, I simultaneously opened OLX and Tonaton to put up my ad. This blog is meant to share my experience advertising on the two online marketplaces.

OLX

This was the first website I visited. The OLX homepage has a simple interface that features the various categories of products they sell and five-levels deep of their latest ads. The most prominent button on the website in the right-hand corner is “Submit an Ad.” Beside it is a less prominent button “My account.” Now being more interested in selling my product than creating an account, I moved on to “Submit an Ad.” Straightaway, I was taken to a page where I had to fill a form. I selected the category of my product, then moved on to the describe my product. I then uploaded two pictures. I then chose my city, added my name, my email address and phone number. Tada! I was through with it. I was given the choice of previewing my ad before hitting “Submit.” There was a miniscule “Terms of Service” below the Submit button which I overlooked. After publishing my ad, I received a mail seconds later that my ad had been published and is already visible on OLX. In order for me to be able to manage my account, OLX had created a faux account with just the username that appears before my gmail: xxxxxxxxx@gmail.com

Another mail immediately followed.

Now does it get better than that? Quick. Easy. No bottlenecks.

Tonaton

When I was through with OLX, I went on to Tonaton. They also have a simple homepage showing the map of Ghana. I proceeded to “Post Your Ad.” The page that opened asked me to choose between “selling my stuff” and “searching for stuff.” Below that was a few posting rules on the website with a link to see “all the rules.” C’mon Tonaton! Nobody reads rules or “Terms of Service”! 😏 I selected “Sell an item or service.” I was then asked to select a category. Before I got to fill the form, I had loaded three pages. 😟 Halfway through filling the form, Tonaton was asking me to input personal details for verification purposes. After requesting for my Voter’s Identification Number, they followed up with a security question, where they asked me to enter my mother and father’s full names. 😖 And the thing is that these are all required fields, meaning you can’t proceed without filling in those details.

But for the fact that I wanted my item to sell by the next day, I would have ended the process. When I was through with posting my ad, this is what came up.

Up to 24 hours to see my ad live? 😦 C’mon Tonaton!… And you might call me to verify my identity by asking for details you’ve already taken? Oh you guys! 😩

Also throughout my time of filling the form, it was evident that Tonaton’s focus was on me creating an account and spending some money with them rather than putting my item on their marketplace as quickly as possible.

The next thing I did was to check my email. And here was Tonaton again. 😪

Another mail followed:

Boring right? I was mad with these guys, but I had already committed myself, so I wanted to be through with selling the phone, then part ways with them.

Within an hour of putting up both ads, I received three calls from people who wanted to purchase the phone. It was evident that all those who called saw the phone on OLX, as Tonaton was yet to put up my ad. The third person to call made the highest bid, so we planned to meet early morning the next day at Tema Station (in Accra Central) to do the transaction. Within an hour of putting up the ad, I had clinched a good deal via OLX whiles Tonaton was yet to call me for “verification” before posting. Now who loses? 😒

And then the next day:

When I woke up early morning, OLX had sent me another mail to ask me if I had already sold my item. I smiled. 😊 After meeting the buyer and making my transaction, I came back to this mail and clicked on “Yes, I sold.” That led me to a page where OLX thanked me for using their service and gave me an option to delete my faux account.

Now that’s how to win a customer and create loyalists to your service. After meeting my need and giving me the best of customer service (not forcing me to create an account or luring me with the bait of gaining an increased reach by spending some Cedis), OLX gave me the option to say “goodbye” and come back when I would want to sell another item. Although I deleted my account because I had nothing else to sell for now, I will gladly create an account with OLX if I’m to consider selling multiple goods. Thank you OLX. 🙌 👏 👍 👊 ✌️ 👌 😊️ 😊

On the other hand, Tonaton never called for their so-called verification and the next morning when I opened my forcibly-created account, I was told that I had no ad on the site. To add insult to injury, when I opened my account, there was no option for me to delete the account. Now if there was anything Tonaton did well, it was to create an un-customer of me. In wanting to get me badly, they lost me. So long, Tonaton. 👋😣

Now Tonaton, I have a few requests: please make sure you do not use my personal details in any capacity and please send me no additional mail now or in the future. The only time I will expect a mail is when you are inviting me to delete my account. I’ll be looking forward to that. Thank you.

PS: Almost 24 hours later, I received a mail from Tonaton that my ad had been put up. A few minutes later, someone called to make an enquiry. But what Tonaton didn’t know was that a fraction of their 24-hour waiting period was the total time I needed to clinch a deal and execute my transaction.

NB: This post is written in good spirit. I benefit in no way by badmouthing Tonaton. This is just a wake-up call for them to do away with the unnecessary details they require of their first-time users, cancel their “verification” system (which though they’ve convinced me is necessary, I believe is dispensable if other checks are put in place). Also they should put up ads in record UsainBolt-time. They should then focus on giving their potential customers the best user experience and earn their decision to becoming members instead of forcing membership down their throats. For OLX, thank you for your awesome and speedy service. You will be my first point-of-call when I have another thing to sell.

Read more about the innovative international company OLX here. Fortune calls them “the biggest web company you’ve never heard of” http://fortune.com/2014/10/29/olx-emerging-markets/

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