By Emmanuel Nwachukwu
The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected virtually every facet of human endeavour in every part of our planet. Sporting events are being postponed or outrightly cancelled, schools are being shut down, social gatherings outlawed, stock markets are crashing, Civil Service winding up gradually, countries are virtually shutting down by halting public, economic activities, some are in total lockdown, all in coordinated efforts to contain the pandemic. Recently, a WHO conference on COVID-19 was cancelled because of COVID-19. Simply put, human contact is now dangerous and consciously discouraged as a precautionary measure to curtail the spread of the virus.
Though Nigeria has recorded very low fatality(1) as a result of the virus, thanks to the collaborated effort of the health ministry and government agencies, Nigerians have been advised not to be complacent. The country now has about 40 confirmed cases of infection. At a time like this, avoiding places that expose you to avoidable human contacts such as open market, malls, banks, restaurants or canteens popularly called ‘Buka’ and even ATM spots, is top of the safety advisory list. Alternatives to carrying out these day to day activities without human contact are highly sought after.
A few days ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that grocery stores cannot meet the demands of people and more importantly worry about the health risk that now comes with shopping in brick and mortar stores. The good news is that the online marketplace now exists for most of these services in Nigeria. For those yet to embrace e-commerce innovations, these are times to consider the option. Platforms like Jumia, Jiji, Konga, and the rest provide veritable options to visit a brick and mortar store or mall. Interestingly, these platforms are expanding beyond just online stores to online malls. It would be recalled that Jumia launched its online mall which provides a direct transaction with grocery, electronics brands and the likes. Employees working at the Jumia warehouse have now been trained on the necessary safety precautions that will assure their safety and that of the packages being delivered to the customers. For instance, the country manager for Jumia Services, Tolulope George-Yanwah said all the employees are now enforced to wear face masks and gloves while handling customers’ packages. She added that there’s also the 1-metre safety distance between all employees at the company’s warehouse.
With services of several payment gateways like JumiaPay, EcobankPay, Paystark, Flutterwave, Opay, shopping can be done and easily paid for in the comfort of your home.
These e-platforms also remove the risk of contracting the virus via physical cash exchange. Beyond payment for goods, these platforms are also efficient for the transfer of funds, limits contact with cash and risk of contracting COVID-19.
Reports have it that East Africa’s leading market, Kenya, has already turned to the region’s leading mobile money product, M-Pesa, to reduce the physical exchange of currency and curtail the spread of COVID-19. In the United States of America, CNN Business reports that online giants Amazon is adding 100,000 new full-time and part-time employees across the United States to keep up with the demand.
All precautionary measures are tied to staying alive, and food is essential to doing just that. With your Smartphone and data, from the comfort of wherever you are, you can order whatever food you desire and it would be delivered to you. Jumia Food is a readily available eCommerce option for such purpose.
This is also the period to optimize the convenience offered by online grocery stores in the country. E-commerce players such as Jumia and others are alternatives available for use without breaking a sweat at the market. Another good part of online shopping, be it for groceries or other products, is that it saves you money by guarding against impulse buying associated with visiting stores and malls.
However, while receiving your orders at the comfort of your home, or office as the case may be, it is advisable to wear protective hand gloves as a protective measure against any infectious contact that may have come to the pack in the process of packaging or transportation. Jumia is a good example in this regard.
A practical step in this direction is the partnership between Jumia, the leading e-commerce platform and Reckitt Benckiser, the global health products manufacturer to help consumers access hygienic products at the lowest price.
The partnership is said to provide a steady supply of hygiene products such as soap bars, disinfectants, and liquid hand wash at affordable pricing. The products, which are facing growing demand from consumers taking hygiene precautions to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
The most interesting part of the initiative is that Jumia will be taking 0% commission on Dettol, JIK and Harpic, and will reinvest the initial commission into discounts on the consumer price while Reckitt Benckiser is financing free shipping nationwide on all listed products.