A new shorter cut to finding goods such as groceries and services like eating places, recipe salons across Kampala using a mobile phone has been discovered. It is called Panya. It uses the already popular Facebook application to enable you to find services around town simply by typing a number.
For many users of Facebook, Panya comes across as just another person you may stumble upon and wish to say Hi! using Facebook messenger. By sending a message to Panya, you’re ushered to a range of service providers who are on the ready to deliver goods and services at a place of your convenience or if you choose to reach them, with prior information about their services.
Imagine, for example that you’re from you child’s visitation along Masaka road and you have the misfortune of getting stuck in a terrible jam and want to cool off somehow by parking somewhere to eat or sip a drink. All you need is send a message to Panya and the system will bring you a range of providers in your location to choose from.
Panya was developed by a team of young Ugandans and some expatriates. Panya’s chief technology officer Timothy Asiimwe explains that the idea of using a Facebook chat bot came about after they unsuccessfully tried to use an app as a marketing tool in Uganda.
Tobias Schiedermair, Panya’s CEO and co-founder points out that unlike other online shopping platforms such as websites and apps, chatbot based systems like Panya use very little data bundle and do not need one to download any thing such as an application.
The advent of panya and other online marketing platforms such as jumia are the latest attempts to introduce online shopping to Uganda’s growing number of internet users.
For Panya’s creators, the more people get to know and use their messenger portal, the more businesses will likely sign up with them for promotion purposes. The company charges a monthly subscription to any business that wishes to be listed among the list of providers.
Thanks to facebook’s recent opening up of its chatbot platform, as well as the highly anticipated integration of mobile money, there is hope that online shopping will become even more attractive and practical by making it possible for buyers to settle payments instantly.