NIGERIA’S VERSION OF AMAZON — ONLINE SHOPPING WEBSITE
By Paul Ndiho
Jumia, a Nigerian online shopping website is now one of the biggest online retailers in the West African nation. It features electronics, home appliances, clothes and kid’s items. With 26 million U.S. dollars in investments, the company is giving other Nigerian based online firms a run for their money.
Lagos has approximately 21 million people, and a trip to a shopping mall can literary wipe out your entire day if you get stuck in traffic.
However, with easier access to the internet, more Nigerians are shopping on online, it’s cheaper and shoppers don’t have to worry hassling with traffic. Inspired by a retail giant like amazon, Jumia was created in May 2012, with a goal to maximize the e-commerce space.
“The e-commerce model is extremely relevant for Nigeria, especially because of all the hassle that everyone can experience every time they go to a shopping mall.”
Analysts say that many shoppers spend a lot of time fighting traffic – or trying to gain entry to the crowded parking lots of a shopping mall. But shopping online eliminates the need to stand in long queues, potentially changing the way shopping most done in Nigeria.
Jeremy Doutte notes that his retail store has approximately 100,000 Nigerian customer accounts and sales are increasing by 15 percent every month.
“we want to re-empower the Nigerians with their time and if we can build a service and a company in two years whereby people can shop everything at any time and on Saturday, instead of spending two hours in traffic at the palms mall, people can just shop from their couch, in twenty minutes, order everything they want and get delivered within 24 hours and now actually, we are managing to serve a considerable amount of orders within 24 hours in Lagos.”
Jumia also has operations in morocco, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Kenya and it aims to be Africa’s answer to amazon, although e-commerce remains in its infancy on the continent. The company is not yet profitable, but it’s spending heavily to grab a larger market share. Doutte says that in emerging markets outside Nigeria, it is usually price comparison that entices shoppers onto the web.
“shopping online in Nigeria just makes sense and we usually say that people can shop online for two reasons, price and convenience and usually in emerging markets, people shop online for price. Why? Because the online website is just a great comparator, you can compare the prices and see they’re reliable. I think that Nigeria maybe one of the only countries in the world, emerging markets where people shop online for convenience, and are ready to pay the price.”
Co-C.E.O Nicolas martin says their website’s traffic success in delivering customers, far outweighs the headache it causes for deliveries.
“it’s painful for us, extremely painful for us to navigate through the traffic, but with professional way of navigating through, it’s actually a bit easier than for the Nigerian customer that has to face it during office hours or at the shop opening hours and so to get to the mall, it’s actually extremely painful for our customer.”
The Lagos firm’s sales are growing fast. It now has 10 centers throughout several cities in the south and the capital Abuja. Jumia is also planning to open a center in a new mall in the main northern city of Kano.
Despite success, many challenges remain including; infrastructure problems, port delays, supply chain woes and getting people to trust websites with their bank card details. Online fraud is another thing that many Nigerians worry about. But for what it’s worth, I’ll not be surprised to see Jumia launch an initial public offering (IPO) at the New York Stock Exchange in a few years.