E-commerce adoption in Northern Nigeria

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E-commerce platforms like Jumia and fintech companies have brought a new dynamic to everyday living in Northern Nigeria. Individuals, households, small enterprises, and huge corporations are increasingly turning to the internet for a variety of transactions.

More importantly, Jumia and other partners’ dedication to open the digital space in the northern states has resulted in increased awareness and knowledge of the enormous capabilities and benefits of e-commerce. E-commerce platforms, in particular, have accelerated digitisation in the north by eliminating barriers to entry such as skepticism, lack of confidence, and concerns about data security breaches, among others.

Nano Strix, a 3PL logistics company, based in Abuja and several FMCG companies are among small and large corporations leveraging e-commerce to create and increase opportunities in the northern part of Nigeria and elsewhere. Through its partnership with Jumia launched in 2015, the company provides third-party logistics services and is the first logistics hub for Jumia in Northern Nigeria. According to Nano Strix CEO Mohammed Maikudi, as the pioneer e-Commerce platform in Northern Nigeria, the company has been able to push over from the initial low user adoption occasioned by people’s lack of trust and fear of the safety of putting their debit cards online. 

“Over time, Jumia has built a name for itself where we now see a more positive trajectory in the industry. People are now more trusting of the services Jumia offers, putting their credit cards or debit cards online ordering items without the fear of being stuck with something they don’t like or expect,” he said. 

Maikudi further enthused, “Our package volumes have started to increase over time, allowing us to employ more staff, provide more benefits to our staff and bring them into the fold. For example, our volume has increased to a point where we allow staff to bring into our 3PL fleet, so everyone benefits.” 

Furthermore, Jumia’s partnership with Unilever for last-mile logistics is accelerating e-commerce adoption in Northern Nigeria. The strategic partnership  enables Unilever to improve turnaround time for consumers in Northern Nigeria’s vast geographic area, allowing them to obtain items more quickly.

The consumer goods company benefits from Jumia’s extensive logistics network by optimizing network scale, delivery speed, and seamless customer experience. Commenting on the partnership, Unilever Nigeria Logistics Manager, Supply Chain Operations, Jeremiah Aloko, said the strategic partnership with Jumia Nigeria has significantly impacted top tier services in Northern Nigeria. During the presentation of Unilever Nigeria’s Best Logistics Partner award to Jumia, he said, “We are impressed with Jumia’s high quality of work in the context of an extremely challenging logistics environment in Africa.”

As e-commerce grows in popularity in Nigerian cities, Jumia and others are fostering many small businesses and logistics companies to satisfy the increasing demands of sellers and buyers. In some Northern Nigerian cities like Kaduna, Kano, and Plateau, it is now common to see delivery vans and bikes delivering items to customers.

A Jumia partner and CEO of Brand Shop Prints, an Abuja-based ICT firm, Fortune Arinze, applauded the impact of Jumia pick-up station on business growth. He acknowledged that the partnership has helped maintain cash inflow during printing business downtime and supported business expansion through ownership of bikes that deliver food on the Jumia platform. 

“As an entrepreneur, the major aim is to make more revenue, and that’s what having a pick-up station in our office space does for me. The advantage we get from this pick-up station is constant turnover, which is what every business needs because, with our kind of business, it’s not every day that we receive new jobs or contracts from clients, but the Jumia pick-up station is a steady source of income. People pick up items every day, and we also deliver food every day. Jumia pays for each item picked up from the station,” he said.  

The disruption caused by COVID-19 emphasizes the importance of e-commerce adoption in the north. Logistics gaps like transportation and warehousing, as well as the lack of physical stalls to sell during the lockdowns, would have spelt doom for small scale farmers if not for e-commerce platforms. While the lockdown was in effect, their produce, particularly groceries and other perishables, would not have made it to the public.

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