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Selling car spare parts online has inspired me to do more

Sunday October 20 2019

Catherine Wangui

Partspoa Brand Ambassador Catherine Wangui. PHOTO | ELIUD MAUMO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ANGELA OKETCH
By ANGELA OKETCH
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Who were your greatest influences/role models as a young girl?

My greatest role models are humble women who have continuously made an impact in the society.

Describe the kind of woman you are.

I am a humble result-oriented woman who is very passionate about girl-child empowerment.

You acquired a second degree in International Relations, what motivated you to take the course and why didn’t you pursue a career in the field?
It is my passion to grow and work in an intercultural environment

You deal with cars spare parts, what motivated you to start the business?

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The motivation is closely linked to my experiences and those of my close friends. Many people, especially ladies, find it hard to walk in town in search of spare parts simply because you don’t know what is genuine and fake. Also, getting a right mechanic who you can trust takes experience, and it’s very hard. People are very cautious with their cars and they want to get the right services because one mistake can give you a bad experience. There is also this mentality that parts are so difficult to find. Actually, they are not, you just don’t know who has them and where to find them.

Why online?

Searching for spare parts in Kenya is not easy because you really need to walk physically to the shop to get the right information. Our motivation is to reach people who are busy in offices or at home. They can shop online, compare options and request delivery at their comfort.

Is this a sole proprietorship or partnership?

Partspoa is a partnership company of young and dedicated individuals driven by passion, who understand the challenges of many car owners. We seek to bring personalised experience in the way people service their cars.

How many employees do you have?

Our team is comprised of digital marketers, field agents, customer care and sales team that supports daily operations of the company.

What does selling spare parts online entail?

With the aim of efficiency and customer satisfaction, one needs to be driven by passion, customer trust and have access to the right parts. From our experience, timely operati0ns and efficient delivery have a huge impact on customer satisfaction.

Many people have been given a raw deal or conned online. Does this affect your business?

This is a big challenge for any online start-up. I think it takes a lot of efforts and consistency to show your brand but also daily interactions with the customer builds confidence, and we are proud that we have been able to achieve that.

What sets you apart to the point a prospective customer trusts you with their money?

We value our customers in that we keep them engaged by updating them right from purchase to delivery. Through our platform, customers interact with the parts, make inquiries, place orders or talk to our agents at any time. After delivery, we make follow-ups to ensure our customers are satisfied.

Between men and women, who buy more from you and why?

When we started, most of our customers were men but nowadays we get orders from both genders. We feel we have been able to bridge the gap of information and customer satisfaction. This way, people know where to get the parts and seek direct support.

What is the process from a customer identifying a spare part and him/her getting it?

A customer can shop directly from our online platform, www.partspoa.com or mobile app (partspoa from google playstore) and pay through the platform.

They will get a notification of their request. We immediately follow up with the customer acknowledging the request and inform them once the order is dispatched.

For parts not listed on our platform, customers reach us through our socialmedia platsforms @partspoa on Facebook, Instagram or even call us directly. We are always online.

Do you fix the parts for customers or does your transaction end with delivery?

It has not been our primary target but requests from our customers to help fix the parts have been overwhelming. We are working on strengthening this service through partnerships, where we can recommend and guarantee quality service for our clients.

Do you give any guarantees?

Absolutely. We give guarantee on deliveries. We also have a return policy on selected parts from our platform.

What does your work entail?
I co-ordinate operations and promote brand awareness.

How do you take feedback from customers?
Some write on our page while others prefer to call us directly.

We are mainly driven by customer satisfaction and we really appreciate their support. Their feedback really inspires us.

How hard is it to start an online business?
Starting an online business is not easy. First, because you don’t have a physical location and you only rely on the customer you cannot see. You really struggle with trust and that means you must be unique and consistent with your brand.

Also, I think as Kenyans, we are not yet trusting online businesses, people want contact and to see the real products. Other challenges may be supply, and failing to get the parts on time.

Partspoa has been a success because of our commitment — we are always innovating and moving towards what customers want. Essentially, with online businesses, you have no room for mistakes, the customer will always expect the best from you and they will only come to you because they get the best service.

What advice would you give to youth who want to go your business way?
I think the biggest leverage is believing in your idea, and being driven by passion, not money. The idea must make sense to you before you can convince someone else. There are plenty of opportunities for everyone, we just have to find the right moment and platform to grow them.

I also think sometimes we are so ambitious with many ideas. Our experience has shown that it’s better to innovate and develop an idea at a time for customers to understand your business model.

What are you proud of most?
I think the fact that people trust us has been a really huge success for us. Being able to develop a model that is able to close the gap on certain areas of people’s live is something we treasure as Partspoa.

Are you married/dating?
I am engaged

What are the must-have items in your handbag?

My make-up, phone and business cards.

What advice would you give to anyone contemplating an online business?

It’s possible but it requires patience to grow your product or service.

Where do you see your business in five years?

Kenyans are very personal with their cars. They don’t just want to buy parts; they want to see those parts working for them. This has inspired us to think of expanding our service points beyond Nairobi. We want to have a presence in every county.

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