Empowering e-commerce sellers
By Tullah Stephen
The dawn of e-commerce in Kenya has had a big impact on entrepreneurs. Its continuous growth is said to offer unique opportunities to transform lives. The last two years, platforms that allow merchants or SMEs to showcase their products by listing them on e-commerce websites or by setting up shops-in-shops on websites have been on the rise. But even as the number of e-commerce platforms increases, the growth comes with its own challenges.
Consumers are today enlightened. By just a click of a button they can get product information, compare prices, shipping costs, delivery time and return options, on-site experience, subscription options, or even their relationship with the retailer. For retailers, mostly SMEs, this presents a huge challenge. They have to grapple with meeting dynamic buyers’ expectations which are sometimes set so high for SMEs.
However, Jumia Market formerly known as Kaymu, is doing something to empower retailers on their platform that overcomes such challenges. For the last eight months, the online marketplace, which is one of the ventures under the Africa Internet Group (AIG), has had to redesign its market approach to focus on endowing vendors on its platform with skills that will enrich their businesses while at the same time offering shoppers a new shopping experience.
Jean-Jacques MaÏkere, the Jumia Market managing director, says with buyers becoming more tech savvy, it is imperative to make sure they have the best buying experience, especially if you are keen on repeat buyers. Having the best buying experience for shoppers, he explains, largely depends on retailers themselves and the e-commerce platforms and how well they integrate.
“You can have a good e-commerce platform but if the packaging, delivery of the products and retailer-customer relationship is not well taken care of, then you won’t have return buyers,” says Jean-Jacques who joined the company nine months ago.
One of his key priorities when he joined was to promote retailer independence. Jumia Market, explains Jean-Jacques, has been educating our merchants to be able to run their businesses without any help from the staff.
The key area has been how to package or brand products for consumers. Further, Jumia Market also trains retailers on how to create customer relations and credibility. “In the last two years, we have discovered that retailer-to-customer relationships are a result of retailers being useful in one way or the other to the buyers. Offering more than just products and giving great customer services is important.”
To earn the interest of buyers, Jean-Jacques adds that retailers must deliver high-quality experience while avoiding long delivery times, low-quality or damaged items and low products. To further support retailers, Jumia has provided a robust platform that enforces seller quality control.
To avoid long delivery times, the start-up also introduced Jumia Mjini, a drop-off point in Nairobi’s CBD. The concept, according to Jean-Jacques, allows sellers to drop off orders for packaging and shipping as well as allow customers to pick up their orders. In addition, the sellers and buyers who come to pick their goods can interact. “The drop-off point doubles as a quality check as well as a trust point where queries regarding Jumia Market can be raised and answered.”
Jean-Jacques, 27, adds that the inter-personal relations between Jumia staff and vendors reduce the risk of fraudsters invading the site.
One of the key challenges however, remains lack of a proper address system in the country. Logistics, explains Jean Jacques, is a key enabler for e-commerce. Companies that are able to crack challenges in logistics are at a much better position to win the market.
“As Jumia Market we are looking at different possibilities of delivering fast. Apart from working with our sister company Jumia Services, we are working with other companies to ensure deliveries are done as fast as possible.”
Impressively enough, Jean-Jacques says, the number of sellers has increased by double digits in the last couple of months since putting up the measures.
For the last four years, AIG, has established Kaymu to become Africa’s leading online market place, offering consumers goods ranging from electronics and fashion, among other h. The online marketplace receives over 100,000 unique visitors in a day and over 10,000 sellers marketing their goods on the platform.
Fresh from a rebranding exercise that saw AIG harmonise all its e-commerce companies to become part of one huge Jumia brand, Jean-Jacques says retailers will benefit from increased traffic while buyers will enjoy the convenience that comes with having a one-stop shop on the Jumia website. With the rebrand, start-ups under AIG can now be found on one Jumia website. Jovago, which was AIG’s hotel booking site, is today known as Jumia Travel, Lamudi is now Jumia House, HelloFood changed to Jumia Food, Carmudi is now Jumia Cars, Vendito became Jumia Deals, and Everjobs, the brands jobs website, is now known as Jumia Jobs.
AIG’s decision to harmonise saw it become one of the largest networks in Africa, offering consumers services ranging from travel bookings, online shopping mall to food delivery. The move, according to Jean-Jacques, was part of the company’s strategy as it seeks to provide a one stop e-commerce reference point for its customers.