Recently, one of the online platforms in the Jumia group embarked on a rebranding campaign. In this interview with Ugo Aliogo, the Managing Director, Jumia Marketing West Africa, Sefik Bagdadioglu spoke on plans to improve the safety of online transaction on the platform and sundry issues in the sector. Excerpts:
What is the Jumia Group all about?
Jumia is the leading internet platform in Africa and our goal is to improve people’s lives through use of technology, therefore we have a lot of different platforms. We have Jumia which is the online retail platform, we have the jumia market which is the leading small-medium scale enterprise and individual online market community where buyers and sellers can engage in transactions in a safe environment, we have Jumia house, and Jumia car, these are online platforms where you can buy your house and car. We have Jumia food where you can order food and it is delivered to your door step. We have the Jumia travel; it is an online travel agency. So what we do is that we take advantage of the internet to improve people’s lives across the Africa and we are the leading platform for that.
What is your customer reach. How many countries in Africa is Jumia group located?
We have our footprints in more than 25 countries in Africa only. We don’t have in Europe and Asia.
What is Jumia Market all about?
As I mentioned earlier, the Jumia market is an online shopping community. Our goal is to provide a platform for sellers who are individual or medium scale enterprises to come and showcase a wide variety of products at very competitive prices to buyers who wants to purchase. We take pride in having the widest instalment and the most affordable prices. We also take pride in almost treasury hunt; you can come on the site and take a look at different products.
You can follow different sellers chat with the sellers and you find unique products. What we do while we are creating this community is to allow communication between buyers and sellers. It allows the buyers to answer sellers’ different questions about the products they are buying.
It is completely transparent and promotes smooth transaction between buyers and sellers, while having the widest and most affordable products. The third value proposition we have is safety of the platform. Here, we allow cash on delivery. For sellers, we provide conveniences such as logistics.
In 2017, what are we looking at for Jumia Market?
Recently we changed our colour and also the appearance. We are also strengthening the main pillars which are safety, transparency, large product reach and affordability. We are going to bring an online payment platform to the site to add safety to the transaction. We want to focus more on expanding our seller base to provide more visibility to small-sellers.
Why did Jumia Market decide to change its colour?
It basically represents freshness and a news start for us in many ways. We want to signify the community feeling that we have on the site, as well as the commitment to showcasing smaller sellers. We have not changed the brand, we are still Jumia Market. We need to keep improving; the change in the service can be on the positive side.
How does Jumia tend to stand stiff competition from Jiji, and other online platforms?
There is a bit of overlap, we are not in competition with Jiji. We focus more on interactions between sellers, buyers and so we are a little bit more of one stop. The competition is a not against other platforms. The competition should be with the offline market. If there are people who chose to buy their goods in conventional platforms either through a market or shopping mall or at roadside, this means that we are not doing something right. Online shopping is about convenience and safety. When people are still deciding whether to buy online or the conventional market, it means we still have a long way to go and that is the real competition.
In the Jumia Market you have the customer service unit, and market unit. In 2016, you did a lot of sales, were there challenges of customers been displeased with the service they rendered or products? In 2017, how do you intend to consolidate by ensuring that these challenges are addressed and customers are served better?
At the moment, we have return guarantee for any buyer who wants to shops at our site; they have to pledge a three-day minimum return guarantee. Therefore, as a buyer if you don’t like the product, you can contact the seller. The seller can accept it, refund for the cost of the purchase or offer an exchange. This is a very strong value proposition for buyers because they can confidently purchase and if they are not happy, they can return it. If a seller refuses to accept it, we have an internal process where we examine what are the reasons for it. If it turns that the seller doesn’t want to comply with this requirement, the seller cannot sell on the site anymore. We are quite strict about it because we want to make sure that buyers are satisfied with their purchase.
How do you manage interaction between Jumia market and your sellers?
We have a seller management team and each individual in our officer is responsible for a number of sellers, depending on the nature of the interaction, it could be by email or phone. We also organise training sessions for our sellers. We train them on our systems, online marketing, customer service, and other things. Also, when a new seller goes online, we take them through what is known as an incubation process in order to empower them for customer service.
Going green signifies sustainable energy and social cause in so many quarters; does the green website also signify a shift to supporting green projects for Jumia Market?
It doesn’t signify a shift that is a core value. It is not a company strategy. As human beings we have a duty to make sure our lives are sustainable.
Who developed the upgrade. Was it done in-house or outsourced to specialist?
It was done in-house. We have a development team. Developing involves going through different phases such as the business requirement collection, requirement stage, testing, and staging. It takes several weeks.
What efforts are you making to ensure that people know about the other branches of the Jumia Group?
It is quite rare that you take part in online transaction and you don’t know about the Jumia group. As part of efforts to create awareness, we do cross-promotion with our sister companies. We ran a campaign with Jumia food in the past where customers received vouchers from us. We also did campaign for Jumia travels. During black Fridays we provided links to buyers on our other services. We do a lot of post-promotion so that someone who comes onboard and has a positive experience with the Jumia Company gets to know about some of the service offerings that we have.
In terms of Corporate Social Responsibility, how far has Jumia Market gone?
What we are doing is to assist small-medium scale enterprise establish their footprints. We have many people visiting the site. We provide the exposure, necessary trainings and tools for these individuals to expand their businesses. We have sellers who started selling on the site because they were unemployed, or what wanted to supplement their incomes. They quit other activities which was keeping them occupied so that they can sell online sales because they are making enough money to sustain themselves and their families. For me, helping people to expand their business could be the best CSR.
What is traffic on the Jumia Market site?
We don’t share exact tracking data because technically we are a start-up and we don’t share those types of data.
How do you retain customer loyalty over the years, because Nigerians are scared of online platforms as a result of fraud?
The best way to do it is to ensure that they have a good experience. There are a few things in our site that enables buyers to examine the product before they purchase it. One of such is ratings, the site allows our customers to carry out due diligence before they purchase the product. If you go to the website to purchase a product, you will find out that there are many people who have purchased that product before you did.
Then you will be able to review the ratings and comments about the product quality or interact with the sellers by previous buyers. This kind of information allows you to filter quality products. Also, we have a return policy, so if you don’t like the product you can return it to the seller. Sellers who don’t abide by these rules cannot buy on the site. Thirdly, we do cash on the delivery, you look at the product, if it is what you ordered, then you pay the money. These approaches are designed to make sure that people are comfortable in making these transactions.
How do you manage cases of conflicts if it arises?
The buyers knows that when they purchase the product, they are not buying it from Jumia Market, but it is just a platform which allows them to buy it from thousands of sellers we have on the platform. Therefore any issue relating to quality about the product, they deal with the seller. We just make sure that sellers are responsive to buyers. We ensure that the buyers are treated well in their purchase of products. We have a conflict resolution process where we determine who is right and wrong.