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Buying Innoson Motors via Jumia, Konga

Alibaba will start selling Ford cars in the near future. The two companies have signed an agreement, TechCrunch reports. According to the report, Alibaba may start selling cars through vending machines.  So, ecommerce is no more for the light items: digital commerce is systematically eating the physical commerce. Tesla has been selling through the web for years, with largely minimal dealerships (where law permits).

Alibaba is the country’s largest e-commerce firm that’s best known for its Taobao marketplace and T-Mall service for brands. The alliance could see Ford utilize T-Mall to sell cars to consumers — the company has sold items like cargo jets via Taobao before — but there could be room for collaboration within Alibaba’s ‘Next Retail’ strategy that unites online and offline commerce.

The Chinese giant recently invested in national hypermarket operator Sun Retail in a move that it hopes will increase the synergies between e-commerce and physical retailing, and automotive is one vertical where that mesh is more obviously beneficial. People like to touch, feel and drive cars before they buy them, but yet doing basic research and purchasing online is more productive than visiting multiple showrooms.

A source also indicated that Alibaba may consider a “vending machine” style approach to selling cars

The ecommerce sector is certainly changing rapidly. This year has seen immense interface between offline and online ecosystems. Jumia Nigeria is now offering Dangote Cement.  I do hope Innoson Motors gets phone calls from Konga and Jumia to help the local car company on its sales.

Innoson Motors (Source: Guardian)

For the partners, it makes sense: you suddenly have your products in platforms where people can see them, even though they may decide to shop elsewhere. The ecommerce companies are advertising juggernauts and they can put products before buyers.

I like the promise in grocery. The emerging opportunity in Nigeria is as follows: buy off strategically positioned supermarkets in selected cities, connect them together to form a chain, and use the scale with integration with online to deliver services. Online will play a big role in coming years, and that role may be reducing the friction in using physical ecosystems in commerce. By that I mean where you shop in Owerri via your mobile phone, drive into a supermarket chain, swipe a card (no one around), and the items will just roll out, packaged for collection.

If the ecommerce firms in Nigeria start thinking in that direction, obviously that would great. It reduces cost of delivery, because after ordering online, the items are coming to you from the supermarket within your city: improved delivery time, better service, plus quality products; no stories! As for Innoson motors being sold online, even the impression that could create is even massive on its own, whether the final purchase is via online or offline is irrelevant.