I was pleasantly surprised the last time I was in Abidjan to hear talk about the arrival of web-based shopping, which seems finally to be gaining traction. Jumia is the main player, but in the last couple of weeks there’s been some blogging buzz about both wasiri.com and a Hellofood app. Beyond consumer experience blog posts, I haven’t seen anyone else picking up on this as a general trend, but it does strike me as extremely positive (well, as much as consumerism is positive). I can’t quite see what’s set this off, outside of an improving business climate and entrepreneurs feeling safe to try out new things. Paypal recently opened the doors to Ivorian customers, though this doesn’t seem to be directly linked. If anything, it seems that the mobile phone companies are behind this, specifically MTN, which offers payment services for Jumia and is reportedly one of the investors in Hellofood. For Wasiri though, the payment model is through cash paid on delivery.
These trends, plus increasing access to e-payment options and the internet, are going to open up some interesting avenues in the future.