While it’s still under construction, there’s an unusual mall coming up in Nigeria. Reports say its aim is to combine the virtual and real shopping experience – retail outlets and shopping alongside with a bonded warehouse and ecommerce facilities.
Nigeria’s retail opportunity has been garnering international attention; its economy surpassed South Africa’s last year to rank #1 on the African continent.
Less visible in the global media has been the rapid growth of Africa’s ecommerce sector. A recent report by market research firm Ipsos, on behalf of PayPal, puts the Nigerian ecommerce as the frontrunner on the continent. 65 % of the country’s 50 million internet users having at one time or the other shopped online, surpassing the usual contenders – South Africa and Kenya.
Infrastructure and delivery channels will be make or break for up and coming ecommerce players hoping to succeed outside of the urban markets such as Lagos. Of note will be ambitious initiatives like this recently funded startup focused on e-commerce logistics – Africa Courier Express:
Eksin said the startup filled an important gap as logistics in Sub-Saharan Africa is difficult given the lack of infrastructure and poor addressing across the continent.
“These, coupled with the fact that most logistics businesses today need expertise in pay-on-delivery services, and this makes our job quite difficult,” he said.
“Another challenge is the poor road infrastructure we encounter across the markets we operate in. However, the opportunity in Africa is so much larger than the challenges and we are excited to tackle all challenges and help our customers grow and move their goods across the continent.”
All of this seems very exciting, stay tuned as I keep my eye out for more insights on how this will play out in an operating environment (Nigeria’s) where the vast majority of retail is still informal and cash transactions dominate.