If you are paying attention, over the last few months, some web businesses in Africa are moving offline, even as they expand their online properties. The recent revelation of the depressing numbers from many of the online platforms shocked industry players: when it comes to spending money online, Africans are not in yet.
iROKOtv had figured this out many months ago with its physical kiosks. Jumia Travel has joined the league, adding offline presence in its operations in Uganda. Yes, Jumia is now your typical travel agent with physical address. It has physical operations now in ten countries, and will continue to roll out these new features across the continent.
Jumia Travel Uganda has launched a new travel agency, signaling a desire to win over Ugandan travellers who are not online by setting up a physical office in Kampala. The physical premises, according to Jumia Travel Country Manager Timothy Mugume are designed to tap into the significant market of Ugandans who do not have access to the internet.
“We have a very strong presence online, however we would like to be all inclusive and provide our services to the customers who are not online, and build them up to embrace it. Only less than 25% of Ugandans have access to internet or services, and our target market lies here too,” Mr. Mugume said.
Uganda therefore becomes one of 10 African countries where Jumia Travel has set up offices. According to a company official, this is set to increase to all major cities. In a statement, the company said the new travel agency will provide services including hotel reservations, flight/ticket bookings, and visas, among others. Jumia Travel said its online platform boasts more than 300,000 hotels worldwide
This is the new Jumia: Jumia 2.0. Expect the financials to come alive positively in coming quarters with this hybrid play. Jumia has brand recognition in Africa, and will become a clear leader as an offline travel agent in major African cities where it operates.
But this goes beyond travels: I expect Jumia to buy a major supermarket in Lagos or Abuja next year. Jumia Supermart will be a great ecosystem for people to shop. Think of Paris in Abuja; LA in Lagos. You cannot beat the brand.
Nigerian entrepreneurs: the industry is changing, from Amazon to Alibaba. You need to adjust your strategies to account for these changes. Sure, online is the future, but we must find cashflow to get over the next billing cycle. The implication is that we need to push into where the present opportunities are located even as we plot for tomorrow’s moments. The money is still in the physical space and we need to deal with that reality in our business models.