How logistics can help unlock $10b e-commerce potential

e-commerce in NigeriaFOR Nigeria’s electronic commerce (eCommerce) sector, estimated to worth over $10 billion to be globally competitive and serve the local market efficiently, the need for adequate logistics has been stressed.

Founders and Managing Directors of African Courier Express (ACE), a technology driven logistics company, Tunde Kehinde and Ercin Eksin, said that key logistics infrastructure are critical to unlocking the potential of e-commerce in Nigeria.

The duo who pioneered e-commerce in Nigeria as co-founders of online retailer, Jumia.com said that while e-commerce will play significant roles in the economic boom that is expected in the coming years, logistics presents a unique challenge that must be tackled before the objective will be realised.

“The Nigerian e-commerce market presents unique challenges. Nigerians are not as trusting of online retail as most westerners, and this means that most online retail in Nigeria is pay-on-delivery. In Nigeria, this leads to logistics issues concerning finding customers at a time when they have the cash for their purchases, and issues surrounding cash remittance to the merchant. For many companies, the difficulty of mitigating this logistical challenges have been a barrier that keeps them from effectively pursuing e-commerce,” said the duo in a media chat.
“These are the conditions that led us to create Africa Courier Express (ACE), a company that aims to completely redefine the way e-commerce is handled, by placing focus on creating a technological infrastructure and adapting processes that will allow Nigerian – and by extension African e-commerce to grow stronger,” they added.

Already, Nigeria’s online stores are increasing by the day. Apart from the likes of Jumia, Konga, Dealdey that pioneered the revolution about three years ago, there are others, which are also making the business worth it. These include Gloo.ng; OLX and the latest entrant, Yudala.

Yudala, which has its head office in Gbagada, Lagos, will be launching its online platform alongside brick and mortar retail chains across Nigeria and other African countries soon.

Yudala plans to open up to 512 shops in Nigeria’s local government councils within three years while it aims to employ 50,000 Nigerians within its first 18 months.

According to the management of the firm, the new eCommerce platform will provide ICT products as well as lifestyle and healthy living goods, with competitive pricing. Also, payments on the online platform can be made on delivery or pre-paid via debit/credit cards.

ACE further informed that its technology is developed in-house by talented, young, entrepreneurial minds, which “allows us to provide merchants with more details and information about their shipments – enabling them to make better business decisions. ACE manages tasks with a multi-faceted technological system that can be adapted to meet merchants where they are.

“Whether by use of a full API integration, managed by ACE, or through a unique Pick-Up-Tool created in-house, orders are inputted into and subsequently tracked throughout ACE’s unique system. “

Kehinde explained that on a customized merchant dashboard, merchants have access to detailed, real-time order tracking, and a top-up payment system that allows merchants to control their business.

According to him, merchants receive automatically generated weekly reports that allow them to keep track of everything they’re doing with ACE from when a package is sent to when they receive their cash. Integrated into the system are advanced proof-of-payment structures, part of what allows ACE to remit cash to merchants within 48 hours of delivery.

‘All of these features are available not only from the computer, but also from one of several mobile apps created in-house by ACE to make managing their logistics process even smoother.”

Eksin stressed that in less than two years, ACE has reached a successful delivery rate of 85 per cent, meaning that of all packages that any merchant attempts to deliver, 85 per cent will reach their target, be paid for, and the payments will be remitted to the merchant. “

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