Jumia needs to fix the mess with global retailers

Jumia is the leading online retailer in Kenya and undoubtedly one of my favorite stops not only when looking to buy a new smartphone, but also when hunting for deals that might interest you, our readers. The retailer is home to some of the cheapest smartphones in the market, but it also houses some of the priciest smartphones, if we go by what global retailers plying their trade on the platform would want Kenyans to believe.

Jumia’s business model is such that third-party retailers are allowed to sell their products via the giant retailer’s platform. It happens everywhere, including on giant retailers such as Amazon. Whether the third-party retailer is Kenyan or not, Jumia is open to all. While it’s true this business decision means Kenyans can access and actually purchase products from retailers based outside the country without having to go through all the usual hassles of dealing with KRA/customs guys, it seems a good number of global retailers on Jumia are here to fleece unsuspecting Kenyans by slamming ridiculous price tags on smartphones (and probably many other products, too).

While shipping products from overseas has always been a scary thing for some due to the import charges involved, the figures witnessed on Jumia Global are out of this world, even if shipping charges were to be included. The most I’ve paid for a smartphone when shipped from overseas is about Sh 5,000, meaning that for a device like Huawei P10 Plus that debuted in Kenya priced at Sh 75,000, the most one can expect to spend on the same when shipped from outside the country is in the regions of Sh 80,000. However, according to some retailers on Jumia Global, you can grab one of these for a whopping Sh 224,000, a discount from the initial Sh 532,000.

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This is simply insane, especially considering that you can also grab the Huawei P10 Plus from local retailers like Masoko and Avechi Kenya for under Sh 70,000. Note that Huawei P10 Plus is only one example in a pool of others, all of which have been slammed exorbitant price tags that can easily fool unsuspecting Kenyans.

The fact that third-party retailers are attempting to steal from Kenyans isn’t surprising. However, what does intrigue me is how all of this is happening under Jumia’s watch. I have on several occasions pointed out this issue to the retailer on Twitter, but nothing seems to be changing at all. I have been delaying this article for weeks as I kept an eye on any progress, but so far there’s none despite the acknowledgment that there’s a problem.

As of this writing (June 10, 2018), for instance, the OnePlus 5T is now valued at Sh 130,000, which is enough to buy two similar phones on Avechi Kenya and still keep some significant change depending on which memory configuration you pick.

While Jumia can argue that third-party retailers determine the prices of their products, I am of the opinion that the buck stops with the giant retailer. Since it hosts these overseas retailers, it is also tasked with the duty of ensuring fair practices are adhered to, even if it means being in control of the prices these retailers charge Kenyans.

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Here’s another example featuring the ZTE Nubia Z17S, which normally costs about $500 (Sh 50,000) on platforms like Geekbuying and GearBest. Add Sh 5,000 customs charges to this figure and you’ll still save a huge amount when compared to buying it via Jumia Global, as shown below.

There’s no doubt that having the option to purchase products from overseas retailers is great, especially in cases where whatever you were looking for isn’t sold locally. Case in point is when I recently wanted to get a good Nokia 2 case for my mum and since no local retailer had it, I had to get one via Jumia Global. However, it makes zero sense that the same products being sold by local retailers on Jumia are also being sold via Jumia Global, yet the latter’s price tags are easily twice or more those of the former. If anything, Jumia needs to regulate the pricing of overseas products in relation to what local retailers charge for the same products rather than make us pay huge amounts in the name of global shopping.

In short, Jumia Kenya needs to fix the mess with global retailers and protect Kenyans from unwarranted exploitation, especially when we are already being exploited by our very own government.

Each one teach one.