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With the rate or speed at which the internet or World Wide Web is revolutionising the world and Africa, you would think everyone is already online. This is not the case especially in Africa and many emerging economies. A report by Internet World Stats says that Africa remains the least connected continent. Africa’s broadband household penetration accounted for 36.1% as at June 2018, far behind the worldwide average of 55.1% (North America – 95.0%; Europe – 85.2%, Middle East – 64.5% and Asia 49.0%).
This reveals that quite a handful of people in Africa notwithstanding whether they are inhabiting urban or rural areas are still offline. Despite these figures, it does not disregard the fact that internet usage is growing especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
This rapid internet growth can be observed in the ballooning of eCommerce in countries like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa ably pioneered by Jumia. Many now order or book items, food and hotels online. This is definitely for those who are online.
The question now is what happens to those who are offline? Don’t they purchase groceries, household items and use hotels? Yes, they do. They will probably visit brick and mortar stores to buy these items and use these services which is obviously very inconveniencing.
Expectedly, since they are offline, they are not supposed to enjoy the benefits of eCommerce. This is also wrong because being offline does not mean you won’t relish these services from Jumia and others. If they are ignored or neglected because they are offline, the truth is eCommerce sites will be losing out on people who have the purchasing power but whose undoing is that they are offline, which is in most situations no fault of theirs.
What is being done to sell to people who are offline?
What??? An eCommerce platform selling to Africans who are offline? It is impossible. Well, as Jumia continues to innovate to satisfy and meet customer demands, it has over the years sold to customers who are offline across its different markets in Africa.
Jumia has set up customer adoption centres (boutique-style booths) with laptops and tablets, where prospective shoppers can navigate its online marketplaces, guided by company representatives. Those who are offline can easily walk into these customer adoption centres to place and process their orders. The booths are situated in strategic locations.
JForce, a similar program, already in place, has salespeople going door to door with Wi-Fi-connected tablets. The top JForce performers can become regional and neighbourhood “captains,” which lets their clients place orders and receive customer service and delivery directly from them. It allows agents to become entrepreneurs effectively operating their own online retail business right from home.
With these painstaking efforts, Jumia has been able to extend the convenience of eCommerce to many offline folks.