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Post COVID-19: Recession, the survival of MSMEs and consumers’ dwindling buying power

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Containment remains the most viable response strategy to the escalating Coronavirus pandemic until there’s a cure.

However, the increasingly negative health, social, economic, financial and humanitarian impacts of COVID-19 are already seen as clear pointers to a probable global recession, if not halted. Many countries including Nigeria are already in a recession panic mode.

But, surprisingly, respected global institutions like the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have assigned the critical role of steering consumers and businesses especially micro, medium and small enterprises (MSMEs) out of likely downtime to e-commerce and logistics operators like Jumia. 

The WTO in a recent report on the role of e-commerce in an effort to mitigate the Coronavirus pandemic said inter alia: “The pandemic has made it clear that e-commerce can be an important tool/solution for consumers. E-commerce can also support small businesses and, by making economies more competitive, be an economic driver for both domestic growth and international trade.”

Due to the rising rate of infection, fatalities and growing concern over Coronavirus transmission and attendant weakening of socio-economic activities, countries as a matter of rule have continued to strongly enforce social and physical distancing protocol of which e-Commerce is at the forefront.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have predicted the global economy to go into one of the worst recessions this year with most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa expected to be worst hit due to their weak infrastructure and fragile economies. 

The Nigerian government acknowledged this reality recently when the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed that the country might go into recession if the pandemic persisted for the next six months.

A recession amidst COVID-19 means tougher times for the Nigeria consumers who will face scarcity of goods, and whose buying power will be eroded amidst rising inflation. For small and big businesses, it portends severe impact on their operations because access to raw materials, semi-finished goods and ingredients from across the country and other regions would be further hampered. 

Nigeria has been reported to be at risk of a serious demand-supply crisis and faces possible domestic scarcity and loss of N2.27 trillion in the trade from its top five import countries. Four of Nigeria’s top trading partners and import sources including China, USA, Spain and Netherlands that account for 45% of Nigeria’s imports, are all battling COVID-19 and strategising solutions to recover their badly hit economies. 

Supply chain disruption, in particular, would hamper manufacturing operations, availability of consumer goods and retail operations in Nigeria, coupled with likely low activity in the local productive sector, both in the pandemic and post-pandemic. 

Consequently, there would be more job losses and worsening unemployment in the country. Revenue to the government will also dwindle especially as a result of plummeting global oil price, which is currently at its all-time low USD22 per barrel. 

The good news, however, is that there is tremendous leverage in the e-commerce and logistics ecosystem and Jumia is already positioned to offer the needed respite to MSMEs, startups and large corporations not only to stay afloat but to maximize profits. There is also so much for consumers to make the best out of their little resources and earn big bang savings notwithstanding the intensity of COVID-19 negative trends.

Jumia through its innovative marketplace offers millions of consumers and thousands of sellers to connect and transact online, while Jumia Logistics absorbs the end-to-end logistics shock for businesses, ensuring quicker and faster movement of products to its warehouses and facilitates onward delivery to consumers. 

With inventories leaving the factories faster and Jumia last-mile system enabling the delivery of millions of packages to customers through its data-driven and technology infrastructure and strategic partnerships with a network of partners, businesses will increase their production capacity and efficiency. 

By offering MSMEs increased online presence, Jumia is also enabling businesses to become more competitive online as well as reduce their cost of operations unlike when they have to move or display goods in brick-and-mortar shops.  

In the post-COVID-19 phase, JumiaPay is out there to facilitate online transactions that save buyers time and money whenever they make purchase orders online, pay online and have their goods delivered to their homes or any preferred location at no extra cost.

In fact Jumia platform is a go-to for consumers who are really smart about getting more for less money. Loads of incentives when ordering essential products on the Jumia platform, and opportunity price discounts through Jumia partnership with FMCGs manufacturers like Reckitt Benckiser, Procter & Gamble, The Coca-Cola Company, and over 25 restaurants and kitchens. 

Other perks that can become big money gains and savings for consumers are regular deal offers, discount sales, price slash and promos across multiple product categories including FMCGs, pharmaceuticals, home appliances like electronics, washing machines and cookers, mobile phones, computing and devices, fashion wears, wine and spirits etcetera.

As Jumia enables MSMEs and other businesses to thrive and run efficiently, Nigerians will be empowered to increase their buying power; workers will keep their jobs as opposed to retrenchment while new jobs will be created across value chains. Government, in turn, will earn revenue from value-added tax, employee taxes, company income tax, duties and other levies.

As enunciated by WTO, the importance of e-commerce and logistics operators like Jumia in the overall response strategy to COVID-19 cannot be over-emphasised.  

According to the world trade body, the experiences and lessons from the Coronavirus crisis showed that e-Commerce could help to facilitate cross-border movement of goods and services, narrow the digital divide, and level the playing field for small businesses. Nigeria cannot be an exception.
By Ezedi Udom.

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Jumia Offers Exciting Deals to Customers With Naija Shopping Festival Campaign

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jumia

Nigeria’s leading e-tailer Jumia, is offering a thrilling shopping experience to Nigerian customers with the Naija Shopping Festival campaign, running from the 12th of July to 29th of August.

The festival offers customers a unique opportunity of a good bargain on every product of their choice at the best market prices.

 

The campaign period (12th of July to 29th of August) is a window of opportunity for parents to leverage price discounts for holiday play items and back to school materials for their kids. It is also an ample opportunity for those working on their beach body for the holiday to get sports gear at the best prices. Customers are expected to download the Jumia App to fully exploit the benefits of the shopping festival. 

 

 

Head of Brands at Jumia Nigeria, Moyosore Oduwobi while commenting on offers available during the festival period said, Jumia marketplace offers simplicity and affordability to the Nigerian customers, and is offering them more on a wider range of products during the festival. 

 

Naija Shopping Festival is every shopper’s dream. Every product you can think of that you’ll need this season, it’s available on Jumia. It’s a good opportunity for customers to delve into the simplicity of the experience and the affordability we offer. It’s our identity to give customers unbeatable prices from the comfort of their homes, and this and more is what they will be getting during this festival,” Oduwobi said. 

 

 

Some of the partners for the Festival include Pernod Ricard, Edifier, Adidas, Nivea, Xiaomi and Fanswedy.

 

The campaign offers customers amazing shopping experiences and benefits such as Daily Flash sales, free shipping on selected brands, N100 clearance sales, live giveaways and surprises packages for shoppers on the weekends.

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Customer Appreciates Service Delivery Of Nigeria’s Ecommerce Market Leader

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Customer

E-commerce is still in its infancy in Nigeria and Africa in general. Despite this, many would agree that a lot of progress has been made in the industry.

What we have today is a big leap to what obtained twelve years ago. More consumers are onboarding the e-commerce train. The hardest skeptics are beginning to have a taste of what online shopping entails.

Urban centers are gradually becoming a beehive of e-commerce activities, as the majority of small businesses now showcase their wares online. Several logistics brands are springing up to meet the delivery demands of sellers and customers.

Hardly would you ply major roads in states like Lagos, Rivers and Abuja, without coming across a delivery van or motorcycle. Their presence is an indication of e-commerce momentum in the country.

More important is the improvement on service delivery by the industry players. The early days of online shopping was fraught with complaints. Late delivery of orders, wrong items and payment itches were prevalent at the time. Though these issues are still being experienced at intervals, it is fair to say that online platforms have put in effort to reduce such occurrences.

And in cases where this happens, measures are in place for a speedy refund process. These efforts are also being appreciated by customers. “I have been using Jumia for like six years now and my experience with Jumia has been nice.

Even when I returned my order, I got my refund back less than the time they gave me. Even on their JumiaPay wallet, which you have to pay online before you get your order, I have had a very good experience with them,” said Ogechi Celestine, a Civil Servant resident in Rivers State.

Another interesting way e-commerce brands are improving service delivery and customer experience is pick up stations. With a station close by, a customer can walk in and pick his item. It takes e-commerce closer to rural residents and further eases the deal for urban dwellers.

“Today is my first time coming to their pickup station to pick my order. I give kudos to Jumia and the team. They should keep it up,” Celestine added. The initiative is not only taking the service closer to customers, but also having ripple impact on small businesses.

Though the e-commerce industry still has a lot to improve on, the work being put in by the major industry players gives hope of a good future for e-commerce services in Nigeria.

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HOW CUSTOMERS’ INCREASED TRUST IN FIRSTBANK’S *894# USSD BANKING CAN BOOST THE FINANCIAL INCLUSION DRIVE

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FirstBank

The path to financial inclusion holds different marketplace barriers and opportunities in different countries, but the push continues because of proof that an increase in economic activities among the financially vulnerable can reawaken a comatose economy.

 

 

For Nigeria, the last three years have seen significant growth of the financial inclusion rate from 56.8% in 2016 to 63.2% in 2018. FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking service is playing a key role in it.

 

FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking initiative is already averaging about 99 million transactions monthly, with a naira worth of (N’m) 370,543 on these transactions. This figure includes the undergraduate doing a mobile airtime recharge; the trader receiving a mobile payment from a customer; the IT person hurriedly buying a data bundle to keep business afloat; the anxious father paying his daughter’s hospital bills for treatment to commence, and the busy worker in Lagos transferring money to his parents in the village since he cannot get to a banking hall.

 

This is just a rough sampling of the financial transactions that amounted to over N3.6 trillion in transaction value on the *894# USSD banking service in 2020. There is practically no financial emergency that the USSD service does not come in.

 

The problems that the *894# USSD service from First Bank of Nigeria Limited is solving is the only justification for the rapid traction it has gained since it was introduced in 2015. It is easy to see Nigerians trust and confidence in the USSD system, with the Bank rapidly growing from 9.5 million customers on the USSD feature to 12.26 million customers within the last year. Over 1.02 million of the figure, are customers who registered in the first 6 months of 2021.

 

The first and perhaps the most attractive feature of USSD banking has got to be that it can be done from any kind of phone and without any form of internet connectivity. Although smartphones are getting more common, there is still a high poverty rate and many financially vulnerable people who cannot access internet banking. The internet penetration in Nigeria is still below the ideal, so users have to deal with poor internet connections in some areas.

 

That is why this kind of banking service that can be accessed without internet connectivity is ideal for the financial inclusion drive. The *894# USSD feature can be used across the four major GSM network operators in the country, meaning there is no added demand on the users.

 

Getting started on the service is as easy as dialling *894*0#, and creating a pin. With that done, you can do airtime and data purchase for yourself and other parties, transfer funds to other accounts, make a BVN enquiry, check your account balance and get a mini statement.

 

For non-customers, this feature allows you to open a bank account in a couple of minutes without having to visit the banking hall. You can open a bank account, receive your account number immediately and start transactions on it right away. The claims of “instant banking, anytime, anywhere” can’t get more real than this.

 

There is even an added security step, requesting a second-factor authentication (2FA) for transfers above N20,000 as a way to secure customers from being ripped off their funds. There is a cumulative maximum daily transfer limit of N100,000 to both FirstBank and other banks accounts.

 

How does FirstBank USSD improve the lives of Nigerians?

For one, the data being generated through this service is sufficient to help the bank understand its current and prospective customers and develop products that suit them.

 

Traders and small businesses can also get a Merchant ID which customers can use to make payments for products and services. This of course is better than having to send one’s account details to countless customers, even without knowing whether or not they are ready to make their purchase.

 

To ensure customers can meet emergency needs before month-end, the Bank’s FirstAdvance service is at their fingertips. FirstAdvance is a digital lending solution designed to offer convenient and easy access to cash for payroll customers awaiting payment of their salaries.

 

Offered through the Bank’s USSD Banking service and leading banking app product, FirstMobile, customers are exposed to a range of loan offerings which put them at an edge in meeting immediate financial needs. To initiate the service through the USSD banking service, the customer is to dial – USSD CODE-*894*11# or *894#. The service is open to customers with a salary account domiciled with the Bank and have received salaries for the last 6 months at the least.

 

There are much more about FirstBank’s *894# USSD banking that puts customers at a distinct advantage in carrying out their daily personal, financial and business activities; meeting unforeseen emergencies, and carrying out a wide range of transactions – with so much fun and convenience – irrespective of where they are in the country.

 

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