Ringier One Africa Media’s User Focused Philosophy Paying Dividends

Although its businesses aren’t new to the continent, ROAM, the new merger between Swiss media giant Ringier and South African based One Africa Media, is already making waves in the industry. With the merger (completed in December 2017), came a new vision for the group: To be Africa’s most user-centric marketplace company.

ROAM owns and operates 17 online classifieds businesses, across 7 African countries. Clemens Weitz, the group’s CEO drives home the importance of user centricity for the future of online transactions in Africa by saying, “Organisations and individuals that truly care about the user will win. ROAM’s philosophy is to put the user at the center of everything we do, to achieve our ultimate goal of connecting Africans with opportunities. Being proudly African, means we recognise that Western business solutions don’t work in Africa. We’ve geared our business to solve uniquely African problems.”

And this philosophy is already paying dividends, With ROAM’s businesses scooping numerous awards in 2018 to date:

In early 2018, BrighterMonday Kenya has already been the recipient of 2 honours. The first being Kenya’s best blog at the Digital Media Awards, which were aimed at recognising excellence by agencies, brands, techies and individuals doing a remarkable job in the digital space. The second, also for their blog, was first prize for the best corporate blog at the annual BAKE awards, held in Nairobi this May.

On other fronts, ROAM and ZoomTanzania took home the honour of being named Best Recruitment Company in Africa at the African Prestigious Awards, held in Accra, Ghana in April 2018. Weitz elaborates on this success by saying that, “The jobs platforms’ aim is to solve the unemployment challenge in Africa by empowering both job seekers and recruiters through technology by offering quality recruitment services. This, however, is only the start of our journey, with much greater things to come”.

ROAM’s Kenyan businesses, BuyRentKenya, Pigiame and Cheki Kenya also won awards during the 2nd Annual Digital Inclusion Awards 2018. BuyRentKenya was declared the winner in the Best Digital Real Estate Platform category. Pigiame and Cheki Kenya both nominated under the Best Online Classifieds Platform category took home the winner and first runners-up awards respectively. The awards recognise and award key players in various sectors that have adopted digital technology in their daily businesses to offer their products or services in a more convenient manner.

So, beyond philosophy, what are some of the things ROAM is doing to achieve such early success? “Trust is our most important asset, especially in our markets where word-of-mouth is key,” says Weitz. “At ROAM, we truly see every single listing as an opportunity for our user. This implies a completely different standard of excellence relative to our competition. We are dedicated to ensuring a quality user experience in every aspect of the buying and selling process.”

If we unpack the concept of using quality to build trust, in the African context, then we really find ROAM’s differentiating factor. Quality here means that when a user sees an item for sale or a job listed, they are empowered with all the information they need to make an informed decision. In practice, this means well written descriptions, images of a high standard, pricing that is transparent and sellers/employers that are reputable.

And it’s not just tech that enables this, but the smart application thereof. “It’s up to businesses like ours to put the right incentives in place, to align the needs of buyers, with those of sellers. When we reward our sellers for uploading quality listings, we signal to the market that being successful online is about more than who has the best price, but who can provide the best experience”. For example, ROAM puts this in practice with their recently launched Winning Dealer campaign in their Cars vertical. In this case, only the Car Dealers offering the best user experience are rewarded with an honouring badge, more prominence and ultimately more business. Similar practices are applied across the board within ROAM, to Property, Jobs and Horizontal Classifieds.

But ROAM isn’t looking to go at it alone. They recognise that to really achieve their dream of a fully empowered continent, they need the help of other local businesses and institutions. As such, they’ve put out a call to like minded CEOs and managers to partner with them to further a shared agenda of empowering the user. As they’ve shown already, when you put the user first, they reward you.

For more information on how you can partner with ROAM to build a better tomorrow for all Africans, visit https://roam.africa/

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