Bridging the E-Commerce Divide across Secondary Cities and Rural Areas in Côte d'Ivoire with JForce
For a while now, e-commerce has been significantly successful in Abidjan, the capital city of Côte d'Ivoire, with Jumia being the leading brand in this space. However, we always aim to make e-commerce more accessible to a greater part of the market.
In the case of Côte d'Ivoire, consumers in most secondary cities and rural areas want more affordable prices for essential goods and a wider variety of products to choose from. And while we have achieved this for consumers in urban areas, the locales outside this bracket pose unique challenges.
Barriers to e-commerce in secondary cities and rural areas
As you move further away from the major urban centers, literacy levels drop significantly, leaving us with fewer channels for effective communication. Additionally, more people in rural areas have difficulty navigating digital platforms.
Another challenge is the limited information regarding the volume of trade facilitated by digital technologies, and the number of actions in the customer journey performed online (order placement, payments, order tracking, returns, advertising and promotions, etc.).
Therefore, it's harder to know who needs our services the most, which aspects of our services would be the major selling points, and the extent to which they’d simplify shopping and be embraced as the better deal.
Addressing rural e-commerce challenges through JForce
When tackling the problems above, we often start with on-the-ground campaigns that include brand activation events in different secondary cities. The main goal is to distribute key information, such as our official phone contact, through print media like flyers.
Another crucial objective is to have people familiarized with our brand assets and build trust in these communities. From here, our JForce agents start helping interested consumers to place orders via our e-commerce platform. This effort also comes with additional information such as the package arrival date, the pickup address (the customer has chosen a pickup station instead of door delivery), the payment method options, the return policy and more.
We have also enhanced the JForce program by creating order hubs. These are much smaller physical outlets dedicated to order placement. Order hubs are situated deeper in the secondary cities and rural areas to bring our e-commerce services closer to the consumer. They also provide a more conducive operational environment for the JForce agent while minimizing overhead and increasing legitimacy.
Basically, anyone who wants to place an order can quickly show up at these locations as they would with a conventional shop instead of waiting for an agent to reach them, traveling to a distant outlet serving a broader area, or looking for other ways to establish contact remotely.
Our achievements and future goals
So far, we've spread e-commerce to areas like Akoupe and Abengourou, among other places outside the capital. One standout testament to the effectiveness of the JForce model is an agent of ours who is situated near the border with Ghana, 173 km away from Abidjan. This agent’s monthly order volume on our platform stands at one million CFA.
Evidently, e-commerce is a very resonant idea amongst the populations in secondary cities and rural areas in Côte d'Ivoire. Accordingly, we aim to attract more JForce agents and encourage them to recruit more team members so we can serve more customers.
Our team is also tailoring our messages to the predominant local languages in various regions and focusing on their primary communication channels to increase awareness. And with more prominence of our brand assets at our physical locations, distributing branded merchandise and other giveaways, we can boost the credibility of our JForce agents and simplify their work.
At Jumia, we believe in expanding e-commerce by tapping into the unrealized capacity of the same populations we want to serve, such as their networking power. This approach brings the typical benefits of e-commerce while empowering communities in other ways, as evidenced by the gainful employment spurred by our JForce program.
Yves Joël N'guetta
Head of JForce, Jumia Côte d'Ivoire
Yves Joël N'guetta is the Head of JForce at Jumia Côte d'Ivoire, a position he has held since 2021. With over nine years of experience, he is a seasoned professional known for his exceptional leadership skills.
Before joining Jumia, Yves Joël N'guetta worked as a sales assistant at NBIG sécurité, gaining valuable insights into sales and customer service. He attended Ecole supérieure de Commerce Castaing, studying business management, which equipped him with the skill set to navigate the e-commerce industry.