Mr Sefik Bagdadioglu, Managing Director of Jumia Market Nigeria, a popular online shopping mall, takes on the nitty-gritty of e-commerce marketing, asserting that online marketing will soon displace the traditional market. The German boss of Jumia also unravels the recent administrative activities of his company.
Can you please let us in on recent activities of your company
What used to be an African Internet Group is now Jumia Group. All the companies such as Kaymu, Jovago, Hello Foods, are now all under one brand name called Jumia Group. One of the things we want to leverage on is the brand of Jumia. The major thing about the brand in Africa is the trust. The concept is still the same for us. Jumia is one-stop shop in Africa and this is what we are doing.
What is the essence of the amalgamation? Is it that your other brands weren’t doing well in the market?
Not at all. All other brands have been doing well. It is much easier to have a big brand from a rich perspective. There are people who know Kaymu but do not know Carmudi, Jovago or Hello Foods. It is not about merging businesses. We are still Jumia Market.
So, it is not a buy-off, per se?
No, not at all.
What is the response like and how are you building the trust element?
It is incredible. We are creating over 17 different companies in about 20 countries in Africa. We are just learning how to work because there are still lots of work to be done. We want to increase our work capacity so we can reach out to more people. It is a process.
We have a lot of offices but the biggest is in Nigeria and it is in Ikeja. We started here in Lagos and we can say Jumia is a Nigerian company. A lot of things could be improved and we are working on it.
Leveraging on the Juimia name, what is the financial implication for other brands?
Nothing as such because we are the same company.
How about the structure of the management?
Nothing changes. I am still the Managing Director.
What need did you hope to create while coming into business newly?
We have over 50,000 small scale enterprises on our site. It is to provide an avenue for people to generate additional source of income and allow people have safe transactions. If a graduate of Unilag has an entrepreneurial skill, he or she can display that on Jumia and become a known brand soon. We also want people to know about best practices and encourage them to do business. To me, that is the most important thing.
Jumia is a big brand, with your teeming customers, but you hardly do anything in the area of corporate social responsibility. How would you argue that?
I have just signed an MoU for job creation for local governments. Maybe what we do is not in the traditional sense because we are not like other companies you know. We try as much as we can. It is a priority for us and we have a lot of people partnering with us to provide this training
What are the kinds of complaints you usually get from your customers, across the states?
We have third-party logistic partners and we negotiate rates. We do not do delivery ourselves and that is very important to note. We try to set standards. We try keep to our promise with our sellers. Based on agreement, we send you your orders within three days. We always ask how we can improve the process. This is what I usually discuss with the staff. It is a learning process.
You may need to verify the core business line of Jumia. What do you actually sell here? Maybe you should also report your worth in the market
Jumia focuses more on branding. If you are a T-shirt producer in Lekki Phase 3, you could come to us and we train you on e-commerce to increase your capacity. When you now have enough money to turn it into a factory, you can go ahead. That’s what we do. Let me just say that we are the leading e-commerce company in Nigeria.
I see that your website is the most visited in Nigeria…
It’s actually the second, after Google
Ok, then. So, how were you able to achieve that and to what do you owe that feat?
I owe it to the workers. You need to be passionate. Another thing is trying to understand the market structure. We need to work harder.
How much is Jumia worth? Let’s have the facts pencilled down on a paper.
To be honest with you, I don’t know. But from a personal level, I think it is worth billions of dollars, only that I can’t give you an exact figure.
How do you manage the crises that often arise between buyers and sellers, with you on the third-party platform?
We set maximum standards. If you want to be a seller, you must follow the standard agreement. Some of our sellers increase their delivery timelines to 11 days but we set the standards.
On the aspect of delivery, someone ordered a pair of shoes and was given two different sizes. She kept calling and the agent didn’t deliver it till today. What do you have to say to that?
See, what she could have done was to call our customer service and we would have taken charge of that. When you have a bad experience, our job is to look at the trends and that is why we have certain rules set and we read out the rules on a regular basis. Online marketing is a lot safer than the traditional marketing experience.
When you go online, you see thousands of buyers telling about their experience with a product and you also see buyers calling sellers.
How is the present economic situation affecting your sales and logistics?
Obviously, the economic climate is diffcult and it has slowed down our sales and that is just what you face in other businesses in the country. It also opens up a wider avenue for businesses. If you use the opportunities in a good way, it is a way of reaching out to a wide number of people in the community. We talk to both buyers and sellers about this.
Do you think e-commerce may soon displace the traditional market?
Absolutely, I am so confident about that. Twenty years ago, there was an analysis and that was exactly what was said. It is a process that won’t happen at once. Like I said, it is a process. Not everyone was using smart phones, about five years ago, but see it today.
What are major challenges you face while rendering service to people?
The challenges are part of life. What is challenging today might not be tomorrow. It is basically about logistics. In Nigeria, people like certain concessions so we try to offer cash on delivery and we have plans to make people feel more comfortable with that.
Tell us the demographics of the age bracket of people that patronise online markets.
I can tell you we have more of under 45 years old people.
Customers would rather tell you they prefer to pay on delivery but it has been observed that you hardly do that on some goods, these days. Why that?
There could be certain sellers that would require that on their own accord but for Jumia market, we have not stopped that.
As e-commerce has come to stay, how many more thousands buyers and sellers can be absolved in another six months?
That is hard to project. You don’t just want to get people signing up on your site but you want to meet standards that would make them make good money for themselves. In the future, it is all going to be about how you reach out to people. We have reached an age where internet is the best way to connect people together and we want to leverage on this.