Black Friday: A Turning Point for African Retail

Two years after online retail giant, Jumia brought the most erratic of shopping ‘holidays’ to Nigeria, the benefits are clear for all to see, and being replicated by those now following suit

For the best part of a decade, apocalyptic scenes of crazed shoppers in the US have been etched across television screens around the world, but it would seem that this chaos is more desirable than it looks as the rest of the world continue to adopt the most frantic of ‘holidays’.

Known as ‘Black Friday’, the day after Thanksgiving in America - which falls on the fourth Thursday of November - has long been used by retailers as a day to drop prices, open earlier, shut later and cash in on what is generally perceived as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

The onset of online retail took the trend one step further, with ecommerce exponents capitalising on people looking for bargains without the danger of being trampled.

All told, the day has become a staple for the retail industry, and slowly but surely, the rest of the world is following suit.

Canada, the UK, Mexico, Romania, India, France, Colombia, Bolivia, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Panama, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and even Lebanon in the Middle East signify the globalisation of the trend, while Africa’s leading economies have joined the party over the past three years too.

A turning point

The first country on the continent to capitalise on the economic potential that Black Friday presents was Nigeria back in 2013, via online store, Jumia.

As the country’s leading operator in the industry, the Company saw 2014 eclipse its initial success in 2013, and as word continues to spread, 2015 is expected to be even more frantic across its digital channel.

Fatoumata Ba, Managing Director of Jumia Nigeria said: “Our projections for this Black Friday, 2015 are surpassing anything we could have hoped for only a year ago. The traction we are observing on Jumia for Black Friday is unprecedented, with 100 times more traffic on the website than a year ago at the same time.

Jumia not only intends to once again take Nigerian consumers by storm on 27 November, but hopes to even outshine the success of Alibaba’s incredible ‘Single Day’s Sales’ in China.

Ba continued: “We have partnered very closely with more than 1,000 brands and vendors who gladly accepted our invite to make Black Friday the biggest sale event of the year and provided us with 10,000 products guaranteed to have the best prices in Nigeria.

“You will be able to find the latest smartphones for the price of a blender! This year’s Black Friday will mark, we are certain of it, a turning point in the history of online retail in Nigeria. 

“Get ready Nigeria, it’s going to be legendary!”

Booming business community

The success of Jumia’s efforts in Nigeria certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed  with many multinational brands jumping on the online bandwagon to receive their slice of Black Friday pie.

This has been seen in numerous ways, and has set the scene for enhanced business activity in general via the likes of social media giant, Facebook.

Partnering with Jumia Nigeria, the organisation hosted the first ‘Boost Your Business’ event in Nigeria one week prior to Black Friday; providing a platform for more than 500 Nigerian entrepreneurs to network, share best practices in marketing and learn how they can leverage the digital domain.

The event served as a rallying call for attendees, who have an invaluable role to play in growing the country’s economy, while illustrating how using Facebook and Jumia can help them maximise sales on Black Friday.

“We enjoyed sharing our ideas at the workshop about how effective, easy to use, mobile social media solutions can help Nigerian entrepreneurs accelerate the growth of their businesses,” said Nunu Ntshingila, Head of Facebook Africa. “SMEs are the backbone of Nigeria’s economy and encouraging entrepreneurial activity is critical to its growth and development. As of May this year, more than half the people on Facebook in Nigeria were connected to an SME.”

Jeremy Doutte, CEO of Jumia Africa added at the event: “We are delighted to host an event for the booming Nigerian business community and our sellers in particular, providing them with a better understanding of how they can use Jumia and Facebook to grow their businesses exponentially. 

“Black Friday is also around the corner and we have been witnessing already 100 times more traction on our website than the traction we had last year for this sale. This event was thus an opportunity for us to bring our sellers together, and coach them on how to make the most of Black Friday.”

Bring on 27 November

Jumia expects a total of more than 1.5 million online visitors on Black Friday alone, let alone the traction already received in the lead up to the day, and while its focus has been on introducing the trend to Nigeria over the past three years, the boundless nature of online shopping makes a continental knock-on effect inevitable.

South Africa - perhaps unsurprisingly, when looking at the economic pecking order of the continent - was the first to follow Nigeria’s lead last year and expects a similar rise in interest to its western counterparts in 2015.

 "In 2014 we served more than one million customers on Black Friday. This year we have even more deals on offer, on everyday products that were carefully selected with our customers' shopping needs in mind," said Neil Schreuder, marketing director for Shoprite Checkers, who was the first retailer to bring the concept to South Africa’s shores.

Retail sales in the country have grown below expectations over the past 12 months, making Black Friday a welcome boost or get-out clause for both South Africa, and other countries in similar predicaments around the world.

Even more reason then for nations yet to embrace the chaos, to do so in the coming years, as the saturation of one day offers the lure of much more longstanding economic benefits.

Nigeria’s neighbours, Ghana are certainly one such interested party as they look forward to their first Black Friday experience: “Africa’s disposable income and online consumption is growing at an extraordinary rate,” said Funlola Abe, Country Manager of Jumia Ghana. “In Ghana, we expect to sell more in this year's Black Friday than in the whole of 2014. But this is just the start. We are here for the long-term and have plenty more surprises to come.

“By tapping into this global shopping phenomenon, with the support of our partners, Infinix, Innjoo, Binatone, Mediatek, Tigo and Guinness, we have created a powerful event that our customers will love.

“Bring on 27 November!”