Consumables dominate Jumia’s sales as COVID-19 changes buyer’s habits

AFRICA – The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital innovations in Africa, with consumers now heightening the use of e-commerce platforms for purchase of essential products.

Africa’s Leading e-commerce platform, Jumia has revealed that the pandemic has shifted consumers’ focus to purchase of everyday products via the platform, as opposed to electronics, which was the norm pre-COVID times.

Shopping for essentials such as foodstuff, saw Jumia’s total sales value of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods grow by 13 percentage points last year, from 44% in 2019, according to the newly released Jumia Africa E-commerce Index 2021 report.

According to the report, sugar especially the two kilogrammes pack was the most purchased item by Kenyans and Ugandans, with Ghanaians purchasing more of the 5kgs rice and Ivorians 400 grams of peas.

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The Jumia report attributed the shift to stay-at-home restrictions that fuelled the need for online shopping as well as the youthful population and the increasing smartphone and internet penetration across the continent.

Smartphones contributed 75% of the traffic to the e-commerce site, with traffic split by platform between the Web App 56%, Mobile Site 19% and Desktop 25%.

“By providing consumers with access to essential food and services, we have seen a shift to essential related products from phones and electronics.

“This goes to show how COVID-19 also reinforced the relevance of e-commerce in the communities we serve,” Jumia Group’s head of communication and public relations, Abdesslam Benzitouni, told TechCrunch.

The report, prepared in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, International Finance Corporation, and Mastercard, also showed that 28 million orders were made on the platform last year. Lagos, Cairo and Nairobi accounted for the most orders by volume, respectively.

About 35% of orders made through Jumia were paid using the company’s finance arm, Jumia Pay, an app that allows customers to pay utility bills and make orders without leaving the company’s platforms.

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Popularity of the Jumia brand also grew in all its markets with Uganda, Senegal and Tunisia experiencing the greatest growth.

Jumia attributed the growth currently happening within the continent’s e-commerce sector to the increasing, albeit sluggish, penetration of the internet.

Across the region 527m people were internet users in 2020 with smart phone adoption lying at 255m.

Meanwhile, E-commerce penetration is still low in Africa at around one per cent, behind 12 per cent in the USA and 20 per cent in China.

Jumia is optimistic about a rise in the adoption of online shopping tied to growth of the digital economy and the number of people to be using the internet in the next few years.

Looking at the order destinations, the primary cities accounted for more than half of the orders lodged on the Jumia site and the rural areas accounting for 22%.

Benzitouni highlighted that Jumia has over the last nine years built a logistics network that targets to make it possible for people in remote areas to shop on its site.

The New York listed company plans to use its logistics network to tap rural areas — which the firm says has seen a strong demand for its services in those areas.

During the period, the e-commerce platform opened up its logistics marketplace to third parties, a place that was previously only used by food vendors and for e-commerce. 

It now has 300 logistics partners and 1,600 pick-up stations spread across its 11 markets in Africa, including Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria and Morocco who were able to fulfil 28m orders.

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