LARBI ALAOUI BELRHITI

Morocco 2020 | GREEN ECONOMY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Larbi Alaoui Belrhiti, CEO of Jumia Maroc, on e-commerce challenges in Africa, the Moroccan market, and the challenge of COVID-19.

What has been the evolution of the company since its creation in 2012?

Jumia is the leading e-commerce platform in Africa that was created in 2012 to serve consumers and provide access to different goods and services. Jumia is present in 11 countries (Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Ghana, Uganda and South Africa). Jumia is built around a marketplace, Jumia Logistics, and JumiaPay. The marketplace helps millions of consumers and thousands of sellers to connect and transact. Our marketplace includes on-demand services, which are mainly restaurant deliveries and supermarket groceries that we deliver in a short timeframe. Jumia Logistics enables the delivery of millions of packages through our network of local partners. JumiaPay facilitates the payments of online transactions for Jumia's ecosystem and allows consumers to access digital services to top up. their phone cards, pay bills or access streaming services. With over 1 billion people and 500 million internet users in Africa, Jumia believes that e-commerce is making people's lives easier by helping them shop and pay for millions of products at the best prices wherever they live. E-commerce is also creating new opportunities for SMEs to grow, and job opportunities for a new generation to thrive. Today in Africa, we have more than 110,000 vendors who we connect with millions of customers.

In terms of numbers, Jumia's Morocco website had more than 9.5 million monthly visits on average in 2019, as well as 5,000 sellers and over 300,000 products. What has been the strategy that has led to becoming the number-one e-commerce company and one of the top-10 most visited sites in Morocco?

Jumia's leverage is that it is physically present in every market it serves and is able to provide an understanding of the needs of every customer in every market. The Egyptian customer is not the Moroccan or Nigerian customer. That is why our advantage is being able to tailor our offer to the needs of each population. Customers are usually looking for a wide assortment of goods; the wider we can make that assortment, the more satisfied the customer is. The second aspect is providing goods at the best price. Having many vendors on the platform drives the competition and provides the best offers for customers. Third is that we are able to adapt to market barriers, such as awareness level about e-commerce. To address this, we educate customers on how e-commerce works, safety, convenience , and ease of use and help them trust it. The final thing is dealing with customers' fears of online payments where we developed a cash-on-delivery approach, which allows the customer to pay when he receives the goods, thus putting the customer at ease with the purchasing process. This also allows people who do not have a credit card to be able to access our offer. We were also able to develop a logistics service that is tailored to e-commerce. In Africa, there was a clear need for logistics providers who are ready for e-commerce in the areas we wanted to serve. Being able to deliver across Morocco and in all rural areas of Africa is something we managed to build ourselves in order to develop a service that covers the widest area. And because it is tailored to e-commerce, it is speedy, with a clear process for returning products, something other logistics providers are unable to do.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, e-commerce has been one of the few sectors that has experienced growth in the past months. How has COVID-19 affected your daily operations?

With the confinement, habits of Moroccan customers have started to change. They have become more interested in essential goods and grocery shopping, as customers are worried about getting access to such goods and worried about supermarkets being exposed to the virus. Therefore, they have started to use the digital platform, with many customers buying disinfectant gels, masks, gloves, detergents, groceries, water, oil, and flour. We have also seen growth for another kind of necessity: products necessary for being “connected.” We have seen people buying computers, printers, phones, TVs, and appliances that are essential to be connected at home, as people want to be connected to families, relatives, and work. We have also been able to make partnerships with big supermarket chains in order to provide a wider assortment of goods. We also provide support to charities that want to deliver certain goods, with McDonalds delivering meals to different associations, hospitals, and police stations. We have contributed our logistics capabilities to deliver these donations. We also have helped chefs, who are cooking for people in need, in collecting donations on our platform to make it easier for them to buy essential products to cook their meals.

What measures are you taking to provide safety to your employees, clients, and products?

For us, the most important thing when COVID-19 started was protecting the health of our customers, our teams, and our partners. We have taken a wide range of measures to protect all the people interacting within our ecosystem. The first is about respecting social distancing guidelines. Our office teams are now working from home, where possible. In our warehouses, we have taken measures in order to decrease the amount of people in the same area. We provide all our delivery agents and people in contact with goods and customers with handwashing stations and disinfectant gels. We also regularly disinfect our warehouses and facilities to ensure that our teams are protected. We also measure the temperature of those who are working and who are in contact with clients.

What is your main priority for 2020?

Today, our main focus is around the current COVID-19 situation and making sure that we can deliver to our consumers the goods they need thanks to two main strategies. The first priority is making our online platform more accessible for customers to encourage the adoption of e-commerce. The second priority will be ensuring we are increasing the quality of our assortment, specifically in the categories that are more interesting to our customers on a daily basis; at the moment, these are supermarkets, beauty, and fashion. The final priority is about making it easier for people to pay online. We are developing more payment methods with JumiaPay, which allows customers to access different payment services.