Mr. Jeremy Hodara, co-founder and co-chief executive officer, Jumia was in Lagos recently to share the Jumia 2020 vision. In this interview with CHIMA AKWAJA, he spoke on Jumia’s rural expansion, job creation for youths, customer service, third party logistics partnership, vendor training and promotion, amongst others.
You are an African ecommerce company with your largest market in Nigeria, what exactly do you offer?
We are the leading Pan-African e-commerce platform, present across 14 countries in Africa. Our mission is to improve the quality of everyday life in Africa by leveraging technology to deliver innovative, convenient and affordable online services to consumers while helping businesses grow as they use Jumia’s platform to better reach and serve consumers.
Our platform consists of a marketplace, which connects sellers with consumers, a logistics service, which enables the shipment and delivery of packages from sellers to consumers, and a payment service, which facilitates transactions among participants active on the Jumia platform in selected markets. On the marketplace, more than 80,000 sellers offer a broad range of goods and on-demand services.
Our logistics leverages an extensive network of third-party logistics service providers, seamlessly integrated through the Jumia proprietary technology platform. We offer a safe and easy solution to facilitate online transactions on the Jumia platform, with the intention of integrating additional financial services in the future.
What are the plans of Jumia in 2020?
In Jumia, we are simply obsessed by four pillars or stakeholders. These are the customers, the vendors, the third parties that enable the ecosystem to work, and last but not least our teams. So, on the customer side, we want to bring more value to our consumers. And what does this mean?
Firstly, we want to increase the purchasing power of our consumers. We are obsessed by prices, we want to always make sure that our consumers get the best price they can get in the market. Consumers want convenience, so, we always want to make sure that delivery happens fast. We are going to put a lot of focus on Jumia Express, so that products can reach consumers faster.
Secondly, we are going to focus on JumiaPay, because it is easier to buy with JumiaPay than using cash. Thirdly, we want to serve all the country as we do today. We want to continue doing this because we believe every consumer needs to benefit from the advantages of Jumia. And last, but not least, we want to offer the widest choice. What makes our market an exception is that it is the place to buy phones, to buy fashion and also much more.
We want to be the platform that comes first in the mind of our consumers, when they think about everyday goods, groceries and essentials. When you think about things that you use every day in your house, we want Jumia to be the place where to buy standard products.
The second thing is our vendors, or entrepreneurs, we want to do two things with our vendors. One, we want to make sure that these vendors are actually going to keep on growing their businesses on Jumia. Our vendors need as much business as they have done in the history of Jumia. We want this year 2020, to break record again.
We are going to make sure that the vendor when he is joining the platform, he is supported in understanding how to do business with us after the very first order. Then, we want to enable vendors do more business on Jumia. What does it mean? We offer them visibility and value added services for them to grow their business in the ecosystem of Jumia.
The third part, connecting customers and vendors would not be possible without our third parties. So, we provide an ecosystem to consumers and vendors to get together. We want to keep on growing the best logistics providers by working together in the regions and in their teams to make the service work for customers. We want to also push JumiaPay, making it easier for consumers to buy products instead of using cash.
Last but not least is our teams. We want to make sure that we keep on fostering the employment sector here in Nigeria by offering and creating jobs in the sector. We want to keep on growing and offering careers of growth inside Jumia. Not only in Nigeria but also using Nigeria as a talent pool, where we have our employees, our colleagues, sharing their knowledge and expertise across other countries.
We want to be the number one employer in the country, and be recognized as a place to learn, have fun and grow. So, these are the four pillars of which we are going to focus on for Nigeria.
You said you are going to offer your vendors value added services to grow their businesses, what are the specific areas you are going to empower them?
I would split this in three parts. There’s a first part, when you are new to Jumia, you want to try to build your business in Jumia. We offer, from the very first moment you give us the news that you want to join us, to the creation of your shop and the first order, a complete understanding on how to behave on the platform, how to attract more customers and how to make better business. There are thousands of vendors here in Nigeria and some vendors want to gain more from Jumia.
We are the custodians of the happiness of customers. So, what we do is, whenever something goes wrong for the vendor, it could be operational issues, quality issues on the product, we always make sure to warranty or guarantee the experience of the customer and explain to the vendor what went wrong and how to improve it. So, this is what we offer our vendors in order for them to succeed on the platform.
We’ve seen a lot of companies coming to the fintech space pumping money, do you still think there is space for Jumia to operate?
In the Fintech (financial technology) world, there is always a lot of noise, but what matters is what stays at the very end and it is very important to be able to hear through the noise. There are billions of Fintech startups but not so many that are very successful. And when I say successful, I mean who can say we have people using us. It’s not about having a few millions or a few hundred thousand.
We have PayPal, PayPal is a success. Why is PayPal a success? Not because they have a better product, not because their logo is cooler or fancier? No, because their team is more fun. PayPal got to where it is today because it had an ecosystem of ecommerce that helped create data. That’s what success is to us.
At the end of the day when you step back and you look at the long term and you look at the world and the reason for people to stop using cash is not because you make a good TV commercial or because you throw some discounts or because you’re a cool logo or the color, it’s not the colour of your company that makes the customers decide to change the way. The reason is simplicity and trust. Once you have that, you have a great product.
The second thing that makes it extremely difficult for anyone to build a large payment business at scale is always in the consumers. There is of course, value in business to business (B2B), there are lots of companies in the chain of payments that do a lot of good business, but at the end, owning the customer, owning their everyday transaction and everyday life is where most of the value is and this is very expensive.
This is something we have done for the last eight years, consumer after consumer. You have seen our commercials, we are all over the place. This is something that takes nine months. And so, our job is to make sure that because we have this huge marketplace ecosystem, because we have a great product and because we have consumers, we want to make sure that JumiaPay is in the position to become the next PayPal, the next Mercado Pago.
It doesn’t mean we will be alone. It is not a game of one company, absolutely not. There will be very vast space vertically and horizontally. There is space for everyone but at the end, we are here to build the next PayPal. It is our job to build the best product, the best trust, the best all of that, and we have a shot at it. That is why we believe JumiaPay is absolutely unique. You can use any method you want.
In your expansion plans within Nigeria, are you looking at rural areas?
If you look at the number of packages we deliver, about 50 per cent of them go to primary cities in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, but 25 per cent goes to rural areas. We go everywhere. Our logistics goes to the rural areas in all the 36 states in the country and all the local governments in this country.
One of the things that we did that helped us to get there, is the fact that there are some places where delivery is not easy. For those areas we initially opened up to, payment was not easy for many reasons. So, we made sure that payment on delivery is available in about 15 cities that we actually onboarded last year.