By Ilerioluwa Phillips
Though rural Nigerian communities are plagued with erratic internet service which limits accessibility to e-commerce, there’s increasing level of acceptance and usage of e-commerce in these communities, thanks to efforts of associates of e-commerce brands like Jumia who meet and engage with residents at the local levels.
Loads of obstacles are surmounted daily by these associates in their quest of treating rural natives to online shopping experience. A lot of effort goes into teaching and exposing these natives to basic internet and online shopping tips. At times, knowledge of native language is needed to drive home the point.
After successfully bringing customers onboard the e-commerce train, next is the challenge of road networks in getting orders delivered at their various locations. Majority of roads in rural communities are fault traps for vehicles, hence riders are mostly deployed for easier maneuvering. For the riders who brave the odds to access the area, they are confronted with yet another huddle, as they still have to engage in house searching to ensure packages are delivered at the right place.
Malik Suleiman, a delivery associate for Jumia Nigeria solves these sort of problems on a daily basis. Malik has been working with the company for three years most of which he has been deeply involved in taking e-commerce service experience to rural residents.
“There are some challenges we face while delivering packages to these rural areas. Two of these challenges include the fact that most of the roads aren’t motorable. The second is that based on the house numbering system, we find it kind of difficult delivering packages to some addresses,” he explained.
Despite the challenges faced daily on these local routes, this Jumia employee says he’s excited about the inclusion of the rural dwellers in accessing e-commerce services. “The good side of it is that buying things online prevents people living in these areas from going all the way to the town to get these things from the local market. So when I finally deliver these packages to customers despite the challenges, I see the joy in their eyes and I feel fulfilled,” the smiling rider said.
It will definitely take more devoted workers like Malik to bring more rural dwellers into the e-commerce market, but many will agree that African e-commerce brands are on the path to achieving this with continued sensitisation, partnerships and logistics investment targeted at local residents.