Last year’s Jumia Black Friday sale ran from November 13 to December 13. The commercial event attracted a total of 6,000 vendors, most who sold over 20 times what they normally sell in a given month.
However, of all the vendors, two stood out due to the number of products they had online, the competitive prices they offered to customers as well the number orders that they delivered to their clients on time (in under 24 hours without cancellations). The two are David Kigo (proprietor of DM Electronics) and Ruhi Suttarwala (of Perfumes Kenya).
(TOP: David Kigo, the Jumia vendor who emerged the best during the Black Friday, just 6 months after enrolling on the platform).
In appreciation and recognition of their efforts, the two are set being taken on an all-expenses 5-day trip to Bangkok, Thailand from February 4 – 9, 2018, all sponsored by Jumia. During the trip, the vendors are expected to learn the best practices in e-commerce; get tips on how to increase their sales (even while the number of vendors on the platform increases); and also learn about the challenges expected to come with the enormous growth and how to react to them. They will also get an opportunity to learn and get a sneak preview of the emerging trends in e-commerce and prepare appropriately for the future.
Before the trip, we sat down with David Kigo of DM Electronics to share his thoughts and experiences on working with Jumia over the last 6 months. Here are excerpts:
QUESTION: Introduce yourself and tell us what the process has been so far
David Kigo (DK): The journey has been quite amazing. My shop – called DM Electronics – is located in Kiambu, that is technically outside Nairobi town. Basically, one can say that I’m geographically disadvantaged and I was looking for a way to increase my sales that’s why I joined Jumia. By then, there’s a friend of mine who was selling football jerseys on the Jumia platform and encouraged me to try it out as well. Initially, I was a bit skeptical as I never imagined that Kenyans could buy stuff online. So I began by getting myself registered on the platform after which I was taken through coaching and training to learn how the platform works.
Q: What were your initial sales figures and statistics like?
DK: After being set up and opening my account, I was doing around 2 to 5 sales per day. After a week or two, I moved to 12 items per day, then moved to 30 items per day. At the moment, I receive around 40 to 50 orders per day on Jumia. My target is to move to around 100 to 200 items per day in one-year’s time.
Q: If you’re to compare your current sales figures from offline and online, which is higher in terms of revenues?
DK: Currently, my online sales are much higher than what I generate from offline, any day, every day. My focus is now on online sales and customers. This means that the revenues from Jumia are currently taking care of most of my costs, staff and enabling me to provide for my family. It’s become my daily source of livelihood.
Q: How was the Black Friday experience like for you, being your first time to participate?
DK: Of course this was my first Black Friday experience. I remember Sam (the Jumia Kenya MD) giving us some advice during a vendors’ dinner. He emphasised the need for us to protect our Seller Score. This is because orders kept coming in from clients during the promo period and if a vendor was not careful, they’d not manage to fulfill all of the orders. There was a day I had over 140 orders and I had to figure out how to fulfill these orders on time and I also had my Seller Score to think about. So, putting my account on holiday mode wasn’t an option. This meant hiring some people to help us in packaging and delivering the orders on time to the clients. Currently, I have a Seller Score of 5, the highest possible ranking.
Q: What is a Seller Score and how important is it to manage (or protect) it?
DK: Seller Score is made of 3 parts – Product quality; Shipping speed and Availability. Mostly, I think what’s most important to remember is that offline and online customers are very different. For the online customer, you’ve to be very careful about the product quality as a vendor. This is because unlike the offline who physically comes to the shop to see and get a feel of the item, the online client only sees an image. And you deliver an item that’s different from what’s displayed in the image, you’ll end up losing those customers, most of who are repeat clients. On shipping speed, customers are very concerned about the speed and duration within which their order(s) can be delivered. On pricing, I learnt that I’ve to be very competitive on my pricing to attract clients who mainly consider costs of items from various vendors before they make an order. This also meant that checking out the prices offered by other vendors on similar items as myself then adjusting my prices to be competitive. And online clients are always very impressed when they get a quality product and competitive price that’s delivered to them within the shortest time possible.
Q: What are your overall sales from the time you joined Jumia up to now?
DK: I’ve sold at least 4,000-plus items from the time I joined the platform 6 months ago. For Black Friday specifically, I was doing about 100 items per day which comes to about 3,000 items during the 1-month promo period. I sold the highest number of items during this period.
Q: As a person, what qualities do you think you possess which have contributed in making you a successful business man? Are they qualities you developed (or acquired) recently or are these traits you’ve always had even when you’re selling exclusively offline from the shop?
DK: I come from a background of business people, from my parents and grandparents. From them, I learnt how to be disciplined when handling cash and the need to always put yourself in the shoes of the customer. I think that’s the one quality that I carried from my offline business and is still relevant now when I’m selling online. The other quality is hard work and this is something that applies to all businesses, whether online or offline. You’ve to strive for growth.
Q: When did you set up your offline business in Kiambu?
DK: I’ve been doing my business offline since 2011.
Q: How does offline compare to online?
DK: The experience of selling online is fascinating. Selling online means that one is not limited by considerations of time or distance.
Q: What challenges did you face while starting out and how did you address them?
DK: I’ve had a few challenges along the way. First challenge was the limited orders I was receiving when starting out. I mentioned that I started with 2 orders initially, and the margins from these orders were not even sufficient to cater for transport costs so I had to strive to increase the volume of my orders. The other challenge was capital.
Q: What would you tell or what advice would you offer someone thinking of setting up an online business?
DK: My advice to them would be this: register with Jumia as it’s a very good place to start. This is because even if you’ve limited capital, you can work around it as the payment processing period at Jumia is very short. I’ve worked and supplied items to supermarkets where I’d to wait for 3 months but during Black Friday, I was being paid weekly. This means that you can always have some cash to enable you fulfill new orders. The registration process is also very flexible and the account will be up in about 24 hours.
Q: What would you like to see Jumia do for you as a vendor in future?
DK: I’d like to see me serving clients not just in Mombasa but across the border in Tanzania as well. Also, Jumia should introduce other product categories like building and construction materials. More awareness needs to be created about online buying as many people, mainly from rural areas and the older generation, are yet to embrace the trend. Otherwise, the going is good and great.
Q: How do you feel about your trip to Bangkok, Thailand?
DK: I enjoy going on trips. My travel documents are ready. In a venture that I started 6 months ago, but right now I’m standing here being recognised with foreign trip, this is a major milestone. We’ve been told that we’re going to meet other vendors and I’ll use the chance to network as much as possible. I’m sure other experienced e-commerce leaders and resource people will make presentations at the meeting and I’m going to pick up as much information as possible and bring it back home and implement it here. I’ll also use the opportunity to learn from other vendors from other markets with the hope of picking out and identifying what can be implemented in our market.
(Kenya’s David Kigo and Ruhi Suttarwala will join other vendors from Nigeria, Egypt and Ivory Coast (4 of Jumia’s biggest markets in Africa) during the Bangkok trip. While in Bangkok, the vendors will visit the headquarters of Lazada, one of the biggest e-commerce players in the Middle East and Asia).