The growth of e-commerce platforms catering to international brands has increased globally. Consumer engagement online that often leads to sales on online platforms is expected to increase fourfold to 12% by 2020 according to Business of Fashion’s annual State of Fashion report.
When I reviewed most of these platforms, it was evident that very few Africans brands are retailed on these well known platforms. This shows us the gap in the industry.
ONYCHEK is an ecommerce platform in the US that is driven by retailing and content through the blog; THEINSIGHT. The company was founded by Chekwas Okafor, Nigerian, who works with two content creators for the site.
The currently stocked brands include Maxhosa by Laduma (Knitwear made in South Africa), ZASHADU (Handbags made in Nigeria), LAURENCEAIRLINE (Shirts made in Ivory Coast), ADELE DEJAK (Accessories made in Kenya), Legacy Collection (Jewelry made in South Africa), SAWA (Shoes made in Ethiopia), CHRISTIE BROWN (clothes made from Ghana) and Simon and Mary (Hats made in South Africa).
What criteria do you apply for brands that want to showcase on ONYCHEK?
These brands embody the ethos of African craftsmanship in their made in Africa products. Our goal is to continue to add more brands as time goes on. We work with high quality brands that are solely making their products on the African continent. These brands typically infuse culture and tell the African story through their products.
I wanted to make African brands easily accessible to the world as there is a lot of magic currently happening in the African fashion industry, which I believe the world has not experienced yet. I also wanted to support designers tell the African story through the fashion medium, knowing how powerful fashion influences cultures. Therefore, the kinds of brands on the site speak to my views of what I want the platform to express to the client.
Who is the ideal ONYCHEK.com customer?
Our ideal customer is a person who is conscious about well-made products, open to different cultures and willing to stand out. Our ideal customer also believes that high quality products can be made in Africa. They enjoy coming to our site and reading our content, learning how to dress and how to combine different pieces for different events.
What geographical areas drive your highest traffic and what is the percentage for each gender?
Most of our interest has come from the US.
- US-44%, Nigeria – 14% , Ghana- 5% Other- 41%
- Women- 65%
- Men- 35%
We also have interest that comes from Ghana, South Africa, the United Kingdom and other countries.
What other countries are you targeting in terms of stock you would like to add to you platform? Also, what brands can we expect in 2017?
We aspire to be the #1 destination for African brands. Therefore, we are targeting all countries as far as a brand fits our ethos: from Ghana to Egypt to Rwanda to Mozambique.
There is an eye out for brands such as Duro Oluwo, Deola Sagoe, Gavin Tajah, Edun, Oswald Boateng and many others.
More sites are incorporating content as a part of their digital strategy. This is often done at a later stage by such e-commerce platforms. ONYCHEK was launched with both retail and content, at the same time. Is the content well received by your viewers?
Our blogs at THEINSIGHT are very popular. At least 3 out of every 5 reader spends more time on the blogs which shows the reads go there to learn more about African brands. Majority of these readers then go back to the product site after reviewing the content page.
Have you started delivering to the African countries and what is the logistical process in terms of delivery and the period of delivery?
The process is easy for us as we keep the inventory for all our products in order for customers to receive their products as quickly as possible. For customers in the US, they can receive their purchase as early as 2 days after purchase. We deliver worldwide and use the best shipping options available for the customer. Just click “Place Order” and leave the rest to us.
Are there plans to open a physical store to align with the ecommerce store?
Currently we are only focused on the ecommerce store, and we have not yet planned for a physical store yet.
What is your vision for the company?
Our vision is to be the world’s most compelling African fashion retail and distribution company. With this vision, we plan to be a part of a future African brands become household names within Africa and rest of the world. A future where African designers are given credit for what impact they are making. A future where we leapfrog existing retail and distribution infrastructure to achieve a more tailored system.
This vision is combined with the focus on companies that maximize value addition in the region by boosting employment of local suppliers, craftsmen, and manufacturers.