For most people in Ghana who want to buy items abroad and have them delivered, the modus operandi is to call a friend, relative, or acquaintance abroad who may be coming to the country soon and ask them to get it for you. Then, you wait until they are ready to travel; that could take weeks or even months. Also, it’s not like you can put pressure on them because you’re not paying them and they’re doing you a favor. The same scenario applies to Nigeria, and most African countries to be frank. The alternative would be to use a service such as UPS or DHL which could cost a lot.

Shypmate identified this problem and decided to be the middleman. So now, instead of being limited to just your circle of friends, relatives and acquaintances, you’re exposed to everybodys friends, relatives and acquaintances. These are people traveling back to either Ghana or Nigeria from the United States who have extra luggage space and are willing to carry some items in order to make some extra cash.

I first heard of technology startup Shypmate earlier this year in January when they were featured on TechCrunch. I thought to myself ‘Oh, that would be really nice and convenient’. I wasn’t buying anything at the time so I stashed it away under ‘useful sites’.  Fast forward a couple of months and I needed to purchase some memory for my machine. My first point of reference was calling friends, relatives, and acquaintances to see whether anybody was coming down to Ghana from the United States anytime soon. That was a dead end. So I decided to give Shypmate a try after doing some research online. Just in case. I checked reviews, tweets about them. You know, the works. Here’s how my first Shypmate experience went down.

 

Stage 1 : Ordering and Payment

You have two options when you want to order items from an online store via Shypmate. Either you send them an email containing a link to the item(s) you want to purchase or you sign up on Shypmate’s site and use their web app to do so. I chose the latter. Signing up was pretty straightforward. You enter your basic details (name, phone, email and password) and that’s it, you’ve just created a Shypmate account. . Regardless of whether you are signed in as a web user or not, you can also paste the link to the item in a form provided on the website and get a delivery estimate.

 

Shypmate, peer-to-peer international delivery to Ghana and Nigeria
 

Once I chose the sign up option and had my Shypmate account, I proceeded to fill an order form with the details of the item I wanted to buy: URL, price, weight, name, quantity and description. After that was done, I clicked the ‘add to cart’ button. Pretty straightforward. That was the only item I was ordering so I moved to the checkout page. On the checkout page, you can view the items you have in your cart and edit, delete them or complete the checkout.

You’re then taken to the payment page where you also enter your delivery details. There are two payment options for Ghana: Paypal and ExpressPay. Paypal (still) doesn’t work in Ghana, so ExpressPay it was. I paid using my Visa card. There were other options available: Mastercard, Tigo, MTN and Airtel Mobile Money. Again, pretty straightforward.

 

Shypmate, peer-to-peer international delivery to Ghana and Nigeria, Expresspay options

Stage 2 : Waiting Phase 1 (Purchase and Delivery to Shypmate)

The tagline on the landing page of Shypmate’s website is: Buy products from any online store in the United States and get it delivered in 5 – 10 days.” Which would’ve been great except for, you know, the fine print: “From the date your item it delivered from the merchant”. Personally, I didn’t have a problem with this because I understand the system but here’s a breakdown of the timeline just in case you’re wondering about efficiency and how long it takes to receive your purchase.

 

AUGUST 5:

– Ordered and paid for the item.

– Received email confirmation from Shypmate.

– Received email from Shypmate informing me that my item had been ordered.

 

AUGUST 8:

– Received an email informing me that my item had been shipped from the merchant.

 

AUGUST 16:

– Sent an email to Shypmate requesting an update.

– Received an email response informing me that the item had not yet been received from the merchant.

 

AUGUST 17:

– Received an email informing me that my item had been delivered by the merchant and had been matched with a traveler.

– This is when the  5-10 day delivery guarantee actually begins.

 

 

Stage 3 : The Delivery

 

Shypmate, peer-to-peer international delivery to Ghana and NigeriaAUGUST 17

– The 10-day delivery countdown begins.

 

August 23:

– Received an SMS from E Market Innovate informing me that they had received my package from Shypmate and would deliver it by August 25. (Well within the 10-day delivery guarantee).

 

August 25:

– My package was delivered to my doorstep (or more specifically, my workplace doorstep).

 

The Verdict

In all, it took exactly 20 days for me to receive my items. I am pleased with their services because Shypmate delivered on their promise of delivering within 5 to 10 days after receiving my purchase from the merchant. You always have to read the fine print when the promises seem too good to be true, and in this case, it fit the bill. Also, their price was way cheaper than the estimates I got from other shipping and delivery services like DHL – a bonus for them in my book as a young professional.

One thing that’s bugging me is why they don’t use Amazon Prime and get delivery time cut down substantially. I know not everybody orders from Amazon but within my circles, most people do. Hopefully I get an answer from them on that. I’ll be sure to update this review if I do.

Another area of contention for me is their communication channels. I was able to communicate easily with them using email and Twitter, but with the online support chat window on their site, I wasn’t able to. I only got one response from them and that was a ‘hello’ after which  there was radio silence. If that channel of communication doesn’t work, I don’t think it should be available on the site.

As a first-time customer, my final rating for Shypmate is 8 out of 10. And no, I don’t have a marking scheme for this. Are you planning on using them or have you used them and have a similar or different experience? Let me know down in the comments section below.

 

Written by Mohammed-Hanif Abdulai

Author

Circumspecte offers insights and perspectives on business, development, lifestyle, culture, careers and human interest issues related to Africa and Africans.

4 Comments

  1. I saw that article too,. Just about to try them out and I’m more confident thanks to your article.
    Thanks for that!

  2. I had to read this article to get someone else’s perspective. I first discovered Shypmate earlier this year when I was still home in Senegal. I was excited. Yes this is what the African world needed because we can’t always be waiting on family and friends (and friends of friends of friends) to travel. So I sent them a message to see if the service was available outside Ghana. They informed me it was not. But I saved the link anyway. Brilliant business model.

    So when I arrived in Ghana and needed shoes, I was anxious to use the service. The ordering part was a breeze. Communication was great.

    But that’s where the ease ended.

    Apparently whomever was charged with bringing my item (and the items of several others) changed their travel plans so my 5-10 day delivery window became 10-20 day delivery window. Although Shypmate communicated the problem via email, they unfortunately cc’d every single other client that was affected by the problem. Yes cc’d not BLIND cc: but every one now had my email address.

    I replied (not reply all) to their message and thanked them for the message and keeping me informed. I also told them that I was not pleased that they had just shared my email address with several people I did not know (there were at least 10 others on the email.)

    They never replied.

    I waited.

    Finally I got a message saying my item had reached Ghana and would be delivered. They provided a phone number (in New York) to call if there was a problem.

    I waited.

    After a couple days and not receiving my item, I sent them an email. No reply. I called the number provided in the email. No reply.

    Finally I received an email saying they had tried to deliver my item but my delivery address and phone number on my account was not correct. So they were unable to deliver.

    I logged back into the platform to check the info they had and that’s when I discovered there was no way for me to view or edit my account details. Since I first signed up for the account when I was still in Senegal, I suspect my Senegalese contact info was in my account. However, I was never able to check because there was no option available for me to view or edit.

    So I replied to the email asking what info they had and provided the correct info.

    They never replied.

    However, 1-2 days later they finally delivered my package.

    I’m saddened that a lack of customer service (isn’t that always our issue?) is what will keep me from using their service again. It’s not the fact that my package took longer than promised. Things happen. But their inability to reply to my messages and also the lack of email etiquette they displayed without acknowledging the mistake when they cc’d all their customers on the same message, is what will prevent me from using the service again.

  3. I regret ever using this company. please use your old method of shipment. SHYPMATE IS VERY VERY VERY TERRIBLE
    communication is terrible and i am waiting to be refunded because i was over charged for delivery.

    • Hi Chattergh, sorry to hear about your horrible experience. I hope you have contacted Shypmate directly to voice your displeasure.

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