Cameroon can Improve eCommerce by Tackling these Three Roadblocks
Online purchases make up just one percent of retail purchases in Africa, which presents boundless opportunities for growth if the most common roadblocks are removed. Central Africa’s largest economy is picking up with increasing numbers going online. A few things need to happen to continue the expansion of eCommerce.
Strengthen online payments
To make an online purchase, buyers have to go online and fill in credit card information, or more conveniently, a mobile phone number for local purchases. At the moment, these options are severely limited. Very few online shops have integrated mobile money, a tool which doesn’t work for international purchases. In a country where a significant number of the population is unbanked, credit cards are not standard. Even when people have these tools available they’re still worried about their safety online. To encourage customers to spend their hard-earned money, sellers would need to find creative payment solutions that are tailored for local needs and integrate them into payment options that work across borders. Online payments can also improve with better Internet speed and improved access.
Fix delivery and transport infrastructure
Buying online and having the confidence that it will reach you in good time is integral to online shoppers. Delivery is a significant problem in Cameroon. To improve speed, road infrastructure needs to be developed. If eCommerce is going to grow, the government’s role in providing functional road networks is vital. On their part, merchants need to strengthen their partnership with the postal service to make the most of their experience with local parcel delivery. Simple things like parcel tracking will help build confidence in the whole system that seems abstract to those unfamiliar with it. Those who’ve been burned by eCommerce hardly return. eCommerce sites can explore hiring delivery staff. Some are already trying this on a small scale, but it can be improved with recruitment and training.
Bring in more sellers and offer more choice
Jumia, Cameroon’s biggest eCommerce site, has been searching for partners lately. They attended the Sixth World Internet Conference in China to explore partnerships with Chinese eCommerce giants like Alibaba and build a learning relationship. According to Jeremy Doutte, executive vice president of Jumia Group, the Chinese eCommerce ecosystem bears similarities with the African market. Choice, he reckons, is a crucial component of that ecosystem with thousands of sellers offering different products to customers at competitive rates. Jumia sees this as a means of going beyond the usual offering of electronics that dominates its sales in countries like Cameroon. Jumia currently has over 81,000 vendors from Africa and 1,500 from China. The site sees Chinese involvement as an advantage due to their experience working in a less developed country.
“Increased competition will promote innovation and help to lure more African consumers to begin shopping online,” Jeremy Doutte told China’s Xinhua news agency.
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