By Adedoyin Giwa
Meeting the needs of Nigeria’s rural ecommerce consumers requires a peculiar method. The myriad of challenges against the advancement of online shopping culture in rural settlements of African states cannot be overemphasized. To successfully make in-roads in reaching and gaining the trust of rural consumers, ecommerce players must continuously remain innovative.
For unique rural markets available in different African settlements, such innovation must be that which encompasses digital literacy, local content, and a blend of delivery culture that tolerates the touch and feel which the population is familiar with. One of such is Jumia Force, an initiative of Jumia, the biggest online marketplace in Nigeria.
The JForce initiative is a nationwide network of sales consultants with a profit-sharing scheme in which the agent, who is also a Jumia customer, earns a certain percentage as commission for successful orders placed for self or for others on Jumia’s retail chains. Successful orders in this regard, are orders that were successfully delivered, and that have passed the return eligibility window.
While this has continued to serve as a source of income for thousands of Nigerian youth, joining the JForce train doesn’t automatically translate to earning the stipulated commission. It requires identifying the untapped ecommerce population, especially in communities with low levels of internet reach or connection, and selling online service and products to them.
This is where Nwanna Njideka Preye, a JForce agent in Portharcourt, the Rivers State Capital, is thriving. Preye has been an agent with the ecommerce platform for over five years during which she has served as a plug for online shopping to hundreds of rural residents of the state. “I’m one of the agents in charge of helping people with little or no internet access to buy items on Jumia,” she explained. “Some of the interesting things most of my customers love to purchase are: groceries, foodstuffs, electronics and also a lot of fitness equipment.”
Complementing the Effort of JForce agents is a logistics network that ensures orders are delivered at the appropriate destination at the right time. “In my interactions with some of the customers around this area, I got to find out that the convenience of delivery and the price slash is what actually drives them to buy from Jumia” she said.
Preye is off the unemployment market and she’s contributing to digital reach and overall rural development. Her story is one of the many impacts of ecommerce and also the inherent economic opportunities it stands to unlock by penetrating rural communities.