Nigerian startup launches WhatsApp-based bot to connect shoppers with retailers

Nigerian startup E Dey Shop has launched a WhatsApp-based bot that helps shoppers find products, services or institutions anywhere in the country.

Launched in April, E Dey Shop launched its WhatsApp bot, which identifies search queries and locations within the messages it receives, last month.

For example, a shopper can ask questions, like “where can I find Amala in Ikotun?” or “dry Cleaners in Kaduna”, and the bot replies with offerings from over 200 registered E Dey Shop merchants along with information scraped from the web. Shoppers can proceed to chat with the merchant, make an order, or visit a physical store. 

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Vendors using E Dey Shop’s social commerce platform to generate leads, and manage their products, customers, online store and sales records via their mobile and web applications. 

“Nigeria is brimming with entrepreneurial activity, both online and offline. We are making it easier for retailers to reach new customers and manage their businesses, while taking advantage of the networks, platforms, and behaviors they already know and love,” said Emeka Mba-Kalu, chief executive officer (CEO) at E Dey Shop. 

“Generating customer leads is the most relevant aspect of building an online business, which is why we’re focused on finding new ways to extend the reach of retailers on E Dey Shop. The WhatsApp bot is uniquely positioned to accomplish this, given WhatsApp’s ubiquity and ease of use.”

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The startup has already signed up 300 merchants, whom it charges between US$3 and US$15 per month, and will integrate payments and logistics capabilities by the third quarter of this year. It has been recording around 500 daily searches on average since its launch.

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“We are currently based in Nigeria. However, the WhatsApp bot is available globally because it can provide results scraped from the web. We will use the bot data to understand which markets may be ripe for our retail management system,” Mba-Kalu said.

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