E-commerce is changing African consumers

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The increasing growth of e-commerce in Africa is changing the face of the traditional consumer, with brands needing to adapt their strategies to remain relevant, according to Charles Brewer, managing director of DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa.

Brewer pointed to the fact African consumers are increasingly searching online platforms with commercial intent, querying prices of goods and researching where products or services can be purchased.

Research by Google South Africa has found there was an increase of 49 per cent in query volumes in Nigeria, 37 per cent in South Africa and 33 per cent in Kenya during 2014.

Brewer said understanding consumers, knowing how to target them with communications and delivering what they want, when they want it, will be key to the ongoing success of e-commerce in the region.

“Africa’s growing middle class is driving consumer demand and in turn, the e-commerce industry on the continent,” he said.

“As a result, retailers need to ask themselves if they are ready for this ‘new’ and evolving client base. Logistically and operationally speaking, businesses will need to shift from a business-to-business approach to a more business-to-consumer approach as retailers will now have to meet the demand of transporting products to individual clients.”

He said new structures would need to be implemented to ensure a company’s supply chain is agile enough to respond quickly and effectively to increased demand.

However, Brewer did say that while there is huge potential for e-commerce in Africa, compared to emerging markets it is still in its infancy. Africa and the Middle East’s share of global e-commerce in 2015 is two per cent, McKinsey predictions suggest this could increase to 10 per cent in Africa’s largest economies by 2025.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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