At first glance it wouldn't be surprising if you confused Jumia.com
for Amazon.com. Both have advertisements pushing the latest electronics, both are promoting holiday deals, and both offer an exhaustive list of shopping categories. But while Amazon has been around since the mid-90s and brought in about $61 billion in revenue last year, the 18-month old Jumia is finding its way in Nigeria, a market that's new to -- but quickly taking to -- online shopping.
The young online supermarket has already grown to 600 employees with $75 million in seed funding and is seeing sales growth in the high teens. But the real challenge to growth hasn't been getting people online -- Nigerians are embracing the smartphone and expect to have 40 percent of all African smartphone shipments next year
-- it's convincing skeptical shoppers that their website isn't a scam. As Bloomberg Businessweek points out
, that means Jumia couldn't exactly replicate Amazon's business model, it had to do things differently.
With many of the country’s 160 million residents suspicious of paying online—yes, they get those fraudulent e-mails, too—the Lagos-based retailer wins over skeptical shoppers by accepting payment on delivery and offering free returns. “It’s very important that people know it’s not a scam,” says 29-year-old co-founder Tunde Kehinde. “Even though they want to buy, trust is still a very, very big issue.”
In addition to payment on delivery, the company goes offline with a team of about 200 that travel with tablets throughout Nigeria's cities to educate people on online shopping and try to convert the skeptics.