Over the years, consumer habits in Africa and the Middle East have undergone a rapid transformation with online shopping or e-commerce gaining momentum in recent times. This fact was highlighted on March 15, 2016 during the celebration of the World Consumer Rights Day. In terms of numbers, in 2013, the number of online shoppers in these two regions was 93.6 million, around 7.1 per cent of the population or half the world average of 15.2 per cent.
According to a report by The Mediterranean World Economic Foresight Institute (L’Institut de Prospective Economique du Monde Mediterraneen – IPEMED), this number will grow to 170.6 million in 2018, with a growth rate of 82 per cent. This will be above the global average of 50 per cent.
The primary reason for this growth curve has been the increasing use of the mobile phone that offers internet services as well. Consumers in Africa and the Middle East are now switching over to e-commerce because of the many advantages it offers, such as online price comparison, variety of choice, discounts, easier access to after-sale service and transaction transparency.
There are many success stories in the e-commerce space in this region. One of them is Jumia, an online supermarket with a strong presence in 11 countries of the continent. This platform offers apparel, household appliances, electronic goods, beauty products, etc. In Cote d’Ivoire, for example, Jumia provides round-the-clock access on its website and mobile app to more than 50,000 items.
Yet another successful e-commerce venture is Hellofood that lists more than 150 restaurants whose menus are accessible via a mobile application and a website with delivery anywhere in Abidjan. With the addition of new features on a regular basis that makes online shopping a breeze, the prediction is that this line of business is set to grow at an amazing rate.
Source: IPEMED, Jumia, Hellofood