The Managing Director/CEO of Jumia Nigeria, Juliet Anammah, spoke with Emma Okonji, on the impact of technology on Jumia’s business, the focus to bring more Nigerian online and the challenges of managing e-Commerce business as a female boss. Excepts:
What is the impact of technology evolution in e-Commerce business in Nigeria?
Technology has changed our ways of life and our thinking in the manner in which we trade. With technology that is driving e-Commerce, there are more businesses online and people can now sit in the comfort of their rooms, offices or business environment and shop for anything online without necessarily moving from place to place. The evolution of technology in e-Commerce business has redefined the physical market place, and has created off-line and online shops that are fully automated for easy trade with digital payment system. With technology, businesses are given global exposure and brands get more visibility and can reach out to millions of customers who have interest in certain products and services.
What is the most exciting customer experience at Jumia?
It is difficult to pick one thing. The one that jumps right out of my head was 2016 when we were just finishing our Black Friday and we had to figure out what is the best way to build a proper system for returns of items. You know something as simple and mundane as that but you know we are dealing with multiple items and we had to figure out what is the best way for this and to make it an experience that sellers in the future will still want to be part of Black Friday. Of course that took so many things: it took technology, change in process, change in policy and even our contract with sellers and what we promise. We came up with many things and today we have what we called the 21-day return policy and many things like that. So that jumps out at me, and it has been an exciting customer experience. When you also look at the consumer side, recently we started looking at how do we accelerate consumer adoption on Jumia because today we know that awareness is not our problem. Most people know Jumia. The service tells us that. But the one area that we still need to crack is how do we get people who say, for example, I do not know how to shop, how do we get those people to be able to adopt a platform like Jumia?. So that excites me. Working on different initiatives we have just rolled out both offline and online. Those are for me very exciting things for the customers.
As a female chief executive officer at Jumia, how do you feel managing a large force of workers comprising males and females?
Well, I have to be a male first to feel the difference managing male and female, but since the only option I have is being female, I can tell you that no one is going to give me any breaks just because I am female. The responsibilities of being a managing director are still exactly the same. The accountability that I hold will not change because I am female. So, for me, there is no difference from what I can see between what I have to do, the responsibilities I have and the commitment I have to give to make sure I achieve the objectives of the company.
What is your take on gender disparity in Jumia?
There is absolutely no focus on gender in terms of trying to discriminate or have a different policy for females or males. It is an equal-opportunity environment. Whether you are male or female, you have the opportunity as long as you are ready to commit to doing the work, you have the full support of the organisation behind you. And in those kinds of organisation, you find out that women actually thrive. So, we have a lot of women who are in top positions in the company both my next level and ‘my N-2 level’ as well. We have many of women who have triumphed and have been able to showcase what they can do in Jumia and Jumia has backed them and given them every opportunity to excel in their jobs.
What is the context of your role at Jumia and how successful have you been able to handle it?
The way it is in Jumia when you look at the platform that we have, we have three elements of our platform. We have the marketplace, the logistics platform and we have our payment platform. That is the entire ecosystem called Jumia. There are so many things within each of those three buckets that I have just mentioned. And someone has to manage those three inter-phases. Someone has to make sure that what we promised to our consumers, to the brands and the sellers who are on Jumia that we actually deliver it. Someone has to look at the fact that we have a vision overall. We do not just get up in the morning and come to work because we have to. We are doing it because there is a vision and a mission around it. And it is my responsibility as well my honour to be the one responsible for making sure that we live out our mission and vision in Nigeria.