In our continuous bid to increase e-commerce adoption across Africa, we’ve discovered several factors that draw customers to our services. A primary focus every step along the way is ensuring that Jumia provides equitable service delivery to both urban and rural areas.
We recognize that rural populations in Nigeria, for example, live in areas that make e-commerce the perfect answer to many of their challenges, yet they often face greater difficulties accessing such services. At Jumia, we contend that our multifaceted value proposition suits their needs, and we've been on a mission to cater to support their unique requirements..
Challenges faced when shopping in rural areas
Firstly, shoppers in rural areas often have fewer retail outlets to choose from, and many have to travel long distances to purchase essential goods. Additionally, most of the available retail outlets have limited options regarding product variety and attributes like size, brand, color, design and build quality, durability, and other specifications.
Secondly, the long distances between some rural areas and the nearest urban trading centers, coupled with inadequate logistical resources, often inflate commodity prices as distributors try to recoup the costs incurred in transportation, loading/offloading and other expenditures. Consequently, many consumers' living standards are diminished since they can't consistently afford basic products.
Thirdly, the shopping arrangement can be quite inconvenient. Consumers often have to notify retailers about desired but unavailable products, then wait for an indefinite period before the retailer can amass the necessary funds and make another trip to the closest wholesaler to source those particular products.
Addressing rural customers’ needs and other adoption barriers
For starters, we’ve adopted more strategic planning to deliver goods to rural areas without massively expanding the route or increasing the time spent in transit. By optimizing our fleet deployment, we can drop off packages at smaller distribution hubs while on the way to other major cities, thereby moderating the cost of transportation. This enables us to provide goods to rural customers at the most competitive prices.
Furthermore, we’ve made shopping more convenient by establishing pickup stations in several rural locales, so customers can easily receive their packages without traveling long distances. These physical locations also help increase trust since customers have somewhere they can go to get their questions answered and witness certain aspects of e-commerce processes in real time.
Moreover, we’ve also onboarded several JForce agents, whose primary role is to help individuals who are not familiar with online shopping to place orders and gradually teach them how to use our platform where possible, while earning commission on every successful shopping experience. This program helps people benefit from our e-commerce services as a fabric of their communities.. They are able to see their loved ones gainfully employed in a sector that simplifies lives by providing an alternative to speculative rural-urban migration.
To further win the trust of rural customers, we’ve standardized delivery times and provided a Pay-On-Delivery option. That way, shoppers know when their goods will arrive and are able to have their money ready without worrying about delays, loss of funds, wrong items, damage, and other irreparable mishaps they occasionally encounter with other retailers.
And by shopping via our platform, people in rural areas can easily access a wide range of products across numerous categories, with all the relevant complementary information. Ultimately, they can get what they feel is right for them instead of settling for the only option other retailers offer. This makes shopping more than a way to survive as it grows into a form of self-expression and an engaging activity that people look forward to and enjoy.
Tailoring our approach to rural-specific challenges
In many rural areas, lots of people have fewer ways to access information. So, to effectively create awareness, we identify the popular local broadcasters and craft messages for avenues like radio, detailing the benefits of our services. We then go further by staging pop-up events in different areas with entertainment and informative activities.
These offline activities focus on a more person-to-person method of shopper education where we speak to people in their native languages and explain how our e-commerce offerings can improve their lives. They also provide an opportunity to circulate flyers and other print media with pertinent information on placing orders, receiving packages, promotions and more, which people can digest at their convenience.
We also partner with local teams to monitor the security situation and remain updated on when to or when not to transport goods using occasionally unsafe routes.
All-in-all, as we spread e-commerce to every corner of the continent, we believe it’s not all about taking the path of least resistance. Some people need e-commerce for one reason, while others need it for several reasons. Ultimately, we aim to offer equally effective services by zooming in on every market segment's unique challenges.
Head of Offline Sales, Nigeria
Babatunde is currently the Head of Offline Sales for Jumia Nigeria. He is a multi-skilled sales and business development professional with a very strong background in FMCG and E-Commerce. He has over 10 years experience across different functions such as Category Management, Distributor Operations/ Route to Market, Channel Operations, Field Sales and Key account management. He previously worked with Procter & Gamble, and PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc.
Babatunde holds a BSc in Engineering from the University of Ibadan and an MBA in view.