By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor
Jumia Nigeria CEO, Massimiliano Spalazzi, is a consummate marketer and e-commerce expert. His years of experience in business give him the advantage of correctly forecasting the outlook of the sector every year. However, what Spalazzi didn’t anticipate in 2020 was that Covid-19 pandemic will ravage the e-commerce sector and world economy. With that experience in mind, he sees an uncertain 2021. Notwithstanding, he believes the e-commerce sector will still lead the country’s national economic recovery.
COVID-19 has not been friendly to businesses. That is in addition to the current recession. How much of the impact does e-commerce feel?
I think we need to split the macroeconomics.
These situations are hard for many businesses, but at the same time, the penetration of e-commerce in the country is actually increasing by the day. I would say that the key impact of the current recession on e-commerce is probably a slower growth, which is contrary to what was forecasted.
But COVID19 also helped to grow the e-commerce business. I read an article, recently, about the penetration and increase in mobile subscriptions in the country.
The development is positive to e-commerce because more subscribers are actually using phones to engage Jumia platform. Despite the challenges, e-commerce will still lead the national economic revival, stability and strength
The brick and mortar stores are experiencing low patronage since the COVID-19 pandemic. What impact does this have on e-commerce?
For us, it is more like a change in consumers’ buying patterns. People have been buying foodstuffs like rice, and interestingly, we offer some great deals on the platform.
I would admit that the need to acquire devices like laptops, phones, televisions is becoming profound this time. The platform is consistently growing.
How did Jumia help local vendors during the lockdown when engagements were mainly online?
What we saw last year how relevant e-commerce is in serving the population during tough times. People locked down due to the pandemic, purchased goods safely and comfortably. Again, local businesses grew because they automatically migrated online.
For Jumia we put in a lot of work to have more engagements with local vendors which helped transform their businesses. Jumia and is still happening online. What we saw also was today, more people are using Jumia Pay. They found a lot of safety in it because of our push towards contactless payment.
Yes, we experienced a tough year, absolutely. But e-commerce helped out.
How are vendors reacting to the new order where competition is practically shifting online?
Vendors who understand this also understand the potential of e-commerce. Let’s keep in mind that last year was very important for brands because we did see a shift in their interest and much more focus on what is happening online and in the e-commerce sector.
Every brand started doing their marketing and commercial e-commerce strategy. We help them in tinkering with those strategies and bringing the projections to fruition.
With what you have seen already, how is Jumia preparing its platform to accommodate more vendors this year?
Since March 2020 a new trend crept into our business. Offline businesses flooded the online space and the challenge to keep pace heightened. We simply endorsed vendors for regular online selling on Jumia.
With that, they now understood what is actually happening and since then, there has been an increased growth of digitalisation.
Currently, we have wonderful conversations with brands and hopefully, Jumia will be the central point to galvanise e-commerce growth and national economic boom.