Wednesday, 16 March 2016

World Consumer Rights Day: e-commerce is the African consumer's best ally

The World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated every year on March 15th since 1983. It marks the day the US President John F. Kennedy, outlined the definition of consumers rights during a declaration made in 1962: the right to be informed, the right to security and the right to be heard.

From 1962 to today, things have evolved, especially in Africa where in recent years online platforms have transformed consumers habits (in Africa and the Middle East, the number of online shoppers was 93.6 million in 2013, around 7.1% of the population, half the world average of 15.2%. However, this number will grow to 170.6 million in 2018, with a growth rate of 82% well above the global average of 50%, according to a report by IPEMED).

With the rapid penetration of mobile which fosters an easier and quicker access to the internet (9 out of 10 Internet users use mobile in Africa and the Middle East - Emarketer), e-commerce has become a boon for millions of African consumers who have adopted it and benefit daily from the undeniable advantages that it brings: transparency and online price comparison, variety of  choice, lower prices through greater competition, accessible after-sale service, original products.

Two evocative examples of the ongoing transformations are Jumia, the online supermarket present in 11 countries of the continent selling fashion items, household appliances, high-tech etc. and hellofood, the marketplace for online food ordering and delivery, leader in 10 African countries. Jumia and hellofood take their success (around 2000 orders per day on average for the first and over 300 for the second in Côte d'Ivoire) from continuously implementing effective local strategies with consumers’ expectations, innovation and simplicity at the center.

For example, in Côte d’Ivoire Jumia.ci guarantees 24/7 access on its website and mobile app to more than 50 000 items that consumers can compare, evaluate (thanks to the pictures and descriptions), and order to be delivered to them conveniently; all at ultra-competitive prices. Same with hellofood.ci, the platform lists more than 150 restaurants whose menus are accessible via a mobile application and a website with delivery anywhere in Abidjan.

Amid a national context where the "fight against the high cost of living", is a workhorse for the government, e-commerce has been providing a lifeline to consumers by increasing their purchasing power. The introduction new concepts on the Web (Mobile week, foodie Friday, Black Friday, general sales, etc.) by Jumia, hellofood and others AIG’s ventures is promoting a more competitive market and giving the power back to the consumer.

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