Tuesday, August 19, 2014

JUMIA: Kenyans now more confident shopping online


Nairobi, Kenya, August 18th 2014- JUMIA Kenya has said that Kenyans are now more confident shopping online than they were in the past. According to the one year old company, Kenyans were sceptical at first but this aspect has since changed as more and more Kenyans move to shop online.

Parinaz Firozi, MD for Jumia Kenya observed, “There was fear of online fraud at first, but JUMIA Kenya made it impossible for any of our customers to get conned. We introduced payment options like cash on delivery, mobile money transfer and credit cards. Customers pay for the product when it gets delivered to their doorstep or office: when you fit that shoe, test that TV, that mobile phone and you actually love it, that’s when you pay.”

She says winning the customers’ trust is key to winning their confidence to shop online.
With the company’s website www.jumia.co.ke being ranked among the most visited in the country, reaching over 26,000 hits on a single day and the Facebook page reaching over 700,000 likes, there’s no doubt Kenyans have embraced the trend that is online shopping.

Firozi explains that the Kenyan mentality of shopping in malls, seeing and touching before buying is fast changing as many realise that the same is possible online: “shopping online is just like shopping in a mall, only the mall is virtual. When you want a particular product, you type it in the search bar. If you haven’t decided what you want to buy, there many categories to choose from such as fashion, electronics, home appliances and many more. You also get to watch videos showcasing all the angles of the product you intend to buy, read product reviews and customer product rating.”

JUMIA further noted that Kenyans are now making huge orders ranging from Fridges, Washing machines, treadmills, fashion products, sports products among others, with deliveries being made to locations as far as Kakamega, Bungoma, Nakuru, Eldoret, Homa bay and other parts of the country.

Victor L'Hôte, Head of Marketing for Jumia Kenya, says: “There has been a shift in consumer trends, so you will notice an increase of orders being placed from outside Nairobi. This was not the case some months ago.”

Victor notes that Kenyans were apprehensive at first giving personal details like mobile phone numbers and emails to Jumia, “Most people want assurance that their details are safe with you and that you are not going to spam their inbox with emails. If you assure them of this, then you win their confidence.”

And in a move to provide an alternative to the Kenyan culture of bargaining, the e-commerce company has been innovative in offering redeemable coupons, gift vouchers, discounts and competitions where customers win great products, a move the MD says has bridged the bargaining gap.

Small, medium and large enterprises have also noted the fast growth of online shopping and moved to rent a space on the company’s online marketplace. Among those selling on Jumia include household name companies like BATA, Armco, Victoria courts furniture, as well as stall owners and individuals selling products from the convenience of their houses.

The online marketplace is a recently launched platform that allows anybody to sell to JUMIA Kenya’s large customer base and have Jumia handle the product warehousing, marketing, customer care, delivery and aftersales remitting cash resulting from the sale at the end of an agreed time. The platform has witnessed massive listing according to Sofia, the online marketplace manager at Jumia. She says that opening a store online is safer than opening a physical store that “could get looted or burned down.”

The confidence is further supported by the upward trend in traffic to the use of mobile applications for shopping. Victor says the ease and accessibility of shopping online using mobile applications on smartphones and tablets has become an excellent indicator of the growing confidence, and notes that the company has seen an increase in downloads of the mobile applications for Android and Windows.

On the prospects and the future, Jumia says that high speed internet connectivity, a tech savvy generation, a fast growing economy, the soaring sales of smartphones and tablets, mobile applications, Wi-Fi hot spots including in public transport vehicles and the narrowing digital divide is the perfect recipe for online shopping in Kenya and that the confidence can only grow.

The company aims to expand to different parts of the company including Mombasa, Nakuru,  and Eldoret among others. “We are entering into a really exciting phase, we have a much greater consumer confidence and are excited by the opportunities it presents us with,” commented Firozi.
Firozi says that consumers still go to the stores to sample products and not to buy. Once they are sure of what they want, they then use the mobile applications to place orders online as the prices are considerably lower than those of the stores that have to rent space or own a fleet of stalls. Delivery is also cheap or free.

Jumia charges ksh. 200 for deliveries below ksh. 5000 while those above that amount are delivered free anywhere in Kenya.

With all its innovations, e-commerce stands to threaten physical retailers in Kenya like travel agencies, software stores, ticketing shops and electronic stores among others.

And with Kenya being the hub of technology in East Africa, today’s consumers leading busy fast-paced lives, there is little or no time left for shopping in the stores. Online shopping is replacing the traditional shopping and providing a new shopping experience via a mobile device straight from your couch, in a business meeting, in traffic, while stuck in a queue and the shop coming to your doorstep is the new hobby.

Friendly free return and exchange policies are a big boost to the growing confidence as consumers realise that they can return or exchange products they ordered previously free of charge and have someone come to collect them.

There is no denying that online shopping will continue to grow, especially with the entry of new e-commerce companies into Kenya. This competition can only benefit the customer and, who knows, maybe one day we’ll even be able to download pizza right into our plates. Only time can tell.

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