To get more people to shop online, Jumia now opens offline experiential zones

It is said that getting to the top is not the difficult part, but staying there is. Being in the top position means that apart from always checking your shoulders to see who’s breathing down your neck with an intent to overtake you and occupy the coveted position, one also has to stay competitive and innovative enough to ensure they’re not overtaken then relegated to the back of the queue.

This is the situation that one Sam Chappatte, the Jumia Kenya MD, seems to have been quite aware of – and alive to – for quite a while now.

(TOP: Sam Chappatte, the Jumia Kenya MD – left – and Charles Murito, the Google Kenya country manager, pose for a photo after the DigiTalk session).

In 2014, Kilimall launched operations in Kenya, seeking a slice – or chunk – of the country’s e-commerce pie. Then late last year, Safaricom – maybe imagining that it could replicate its success from mobile telephony and mobile money transfer arena to the e-commerce industry – also decided to wade into the e-retail industry with its own platform, Masoko.

However, the two latest platforms to join the country’s e-commerce – Kilimall and Masoko – are yet to make a significant dent on Jumia’s position as the most popular platform when it comes to online retail in Kenya. And statistics are there to support this.

During this week’s DigiTalk, which focused on the e-Commerce revolution in Kenya – by delving into such areas as the impact and influence of mobile commerce, how to transform e-commerce challenges into opportunities and the evolution from brick and mortar to e-retail – Charles Murito, the Google Kenya country manager stated that the most searched e-commerce platforms in Kenya at the moment are Jumia, OLX then Amazon with Kilimall coming in fourth place.

Being at the top as the most searched site in Kenya in one’s industry is no mean feat and could cause many people to sit back and relax, enjoying the success. But not the Jumia Kenya MD, who is currently more concerned with the fact that not many people are shopping online.

“Only 10 per cent of retail takes place online globally while the rest is done via traditional retail channels. But it grows faster at 5 per cent per year than traditional retail mostly because it’s more convenient and faster,” noted Chappatte at the event, adding that even though online retail is growing year-on-year, offline retail is not dead as it still accounts for 90 per cent of overall sales.

According to Chappatte, the key to further unlocking Kenya’s e-commerce potential lies in unveiling cheaper data packages and mobile devices; building trust for consumers to use online platforms and creating awareness among offline buyers on the benefits of embracing e-commerce.

“When it comes to variety, we currently have over 1.2 million products on Jumia, compared to 2 years ago when we only had 30,000 products. For us to get to the next level of e-commerce, we need to really educate the consumers and offline buyers to embrace online retail. This is why we launched the Jumia Experiential Zones,” noted Chappatte.

From the experiential stores (or zones) – currently set up in Nairobi and Mombasa with others planned for the country’s major urban centres – those who traditionally buy offline would be able to walk in, get a feel of the items on offer through Jumia and even get the various prices. They’ll then be taken through the process of making an order online from the Jumia platform to complete the purchase.

The offline stores in other towns apart from Nairobi will also help in attracting people from outside the capital city to use the platform as current sales – mostly smartphones – are concentrated in urban areas with Jumia’s latest whitepaper stating that 65 per cent of smartphone sales are from Nairobi.

Having cheaper data-enabled devices available in Kenya is important to Jumia because 68 per cent of visitors access the platform from their mobile phones at the moment, generating 53 per cent of all orders.

Having more people with internet-enabled mobile devices coupled with availability of cheaper data bundles in the market will benefit Jumia in that a good number of them may end up being attracted to the e-retail platform and even download the Jumia app, which has so far registered only 500,000 users locally. And ensure that Jumia maintains its ranking as the most searched – and used – platform in the country by online shoppers.

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