You’ve probably heard of Craigslist, the American classified ad Web site. But have you ever heard of Kijiji, the local equivalent that’s powered by eBay and introduced in South Africa in 2015?
Kijiji is a local search engine that aims to connect businesses with potential customers in Africa’s most-populous country. Launched in 2015, the site allows users to find anything from jobs to buying and selling goods – even dating!
Kijiji’s co-founder and CEO Tumi Soko says that the goal is to create a ‘trusted community’ where people can go to find what they want, and where businesses can ‘build trust and credibility’.
The site caters to a highly mobile audience – about 80% of users are on their smartphones while browsing the site. So when a user types in a search term on their phone, it pops up instantly on a small device’s tiny screen.
Users browse through a variety of news, product, and service related categories, as well as community forums. They can then click on an individual item to get more information or make a purchase. In addition, businesses can put up a ‘product offering’ page to attract potential customers. When a user finds a product they’re interested in, they can click to reach the business’s page and make a purchase directly from there.
Soko says the way people use the internet in SA has changed in recent years. People are now more likely to use mobile phones to access the Web and stay on social media sites longer. This has made video content more important, as people are more likely to come back to content that is served to them quickly and easily on a mobile phone.
The Rise Of Video
Soko says video content is growing rapidly on the site, with users swapping text for eye-catching visuals in more than 80% of their interactions. In fact, video is so important to users that Soko says the company is now prioritising video content above all else. As a result, the site has seen a huge bounce back in visitor numbers, with daily average traffic rising by 41% in the past year.
Soko points to two reasons for the increased traffic. First, people are increasingly searching for products and services online, rather than just relying on face-to-face interactions or word-of-mouth marketing. Second, video content is easier for users to digest online than text-based content.
While video content is growing, social media is still relatively small potatoes on the site, with users favouring Instagram over Facebook and WhatsApp. However, this is likely to change as video becomes more popular.
Instagram is the most popular social media platform in Africa, with a whopping 150 million users. The photo-sharing app allows users to create and share short-form videos (known as ‘stories’) on their profiles. These videos can be funny, informative, or just show off the user’s life. Users can also use the app to follow photographers and videographers who are documenting life in Africa.
The Instagrammers who live in Africa have created a space for themselves on the app, with the platform’s Explore page featuring regularly updated content from the continent. As a result, Instagram is the most popular place for people in Africa to find content related to their interests. This is evidenced by the fact that while video is rising on Kijiji, the number of users on the Instagram platform is increasing by the day.
The Growth Of Online Marketing In Africa
It would be a missed opportunity if we did not mention the rise of online marketing in Africa. After all, with more and more people accessing the internet via mobile phones, finding a way to market your product or service online is easier than ever before.
Marketing on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter is incredibly popular in Africa, with nearly every country in the continent embracing these platforms. Even TikTok, the video-sharing app that’s taken the world by storm, has more than 10 million users in sub-Saharan Africa.
And it’s not just about brands getting in on the act. Even government agencies, school boards, and non-profit organisations are using the platforms to get the word out about their organisations and their work. And let’s be honest, with so much awareness surrounding the many inequalities and injustices in the world, being able to find a way to empower individuals, develop leadership skills, and give back to your community – all while marketing your product or service – is a no-brainer.
One of the biggest challenges businesses and organisations face in Africa is getting the word out about their services, products, and events. According to Megan Huntley, Country Manager for Innocean, a global marketing and strategy communications firm specialising in Africa, “Although there is a strong digital infrastructure, limited online resources, and a high dependence on word-of-mouth marketing, many businesses are not taking advantage of the great opportunities that the internet provides.”
She continues: “In most countries in Africa, over 90% of the population use the internet, yet there are only about ten million active users on social media sites. That’s an enormous opportunity to engage with customers and potential customers. It’s not just about marketing to digital natives, but about understanding and engaging with the growing number of digitally marginalized people.”
Huntley points to mobile phones being relatively cheap and easy to use as one of the factors hindering internet access in Africa. Indeed, in many African countries, people can access the internet via their mobile phones for less than 2 hours a day. In other words, many people in Africa are “using the internet on the go,” as Huntley puts it, which presents businesses with a unique opportunity to connect with customers when and where they are.
The Future Of E-commerce In Africa
E-commerce has existed for decades, with the online market growing at an incredible rate. However, it was largely inaccessible to consumers in Africa due to the continent’s expensive and complicated online stores.
This is slowly changing. Huntley points to the emergence of platforms like Shopbop and Missguided, which have created online stores accessible to people in all socio-economic groups in Africa. The platforms have made it easier for people in the region to purchase luxury goods and experience international brands first-hand, even if it’s just for a few hours a day.
Many experts predict that e-commerce in Africa will hit 14.6 billion US dollars by next year. This is a massive market opportunity for businesses, but also one that comes with its share of challenges.
First, there is the issue of trust. As we’ve established, internet usage in Africa is relatively low, with only 18% of shoppers believing that they’re doing business with a reputable brand. This is worrying for marketers, given that up to 90% of all fraud takes place online. Second, there is competition. With so many people wanting to sell their products online, marketplaces are becoming congested, which makes it harder for business to thrive. Finally, online stores need to serve a bigger audience. As we’ve established, many people in Africa rely on mobile phones to access the web, with only 18% having a home computer. As a result, e-commerce platforms need to focus on mobile-friendliness and security to keep customers and future customers satisfied. They also need to find a way to make internet shopping a more appealing option for people in Africa. This is where we come in.
To summarise, the opportunities for marketers in Africa are endless, especially with the rise of online marketing and shopping on mobile phones. However, this comes with a host of challenges, not least of which is the relatively low trust that most people have in online businesses, which makes it harder for them to establish long-term customer relationships. Nonetheless, businesses, brands, and organisations have woken up to these challenges and are actively taking advantage of the great opportunities the internet provides. Whether it’s to find an interested in a particular product, service, or company, to research a topic, or to find a place to advertise, many online platforms exist to help customers and businesses connect and do business.