Thanksgiving on the streets of Lagos and other parts of Nigeria is just an act and attitude mainly associated with politicians that have won elections and not a public holiday as it is usually celebrated in the US. Despite this, Nigerian e-commerce thrives during this time.
Local online shopping platforms such as Konga and Jumia are giving a different meaning to this American holiday by offering amazing discounts and prizes to a growing number of online shoppers in the West African country.
Black Friday, a holiday that follows Thanksgiving and is regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, has become one of the largest sale day of the year for these e-commerce websites.
On November 29, 2013, Konga’s website crashed as a result of high traffic that resulted from its Black Friday campaign dubbed Yakata Sales. The company later said it sold as much goods on that day as it did for the whole of 2012.
Konga’s CEO, Sim Shagaya told Forbes the company sold goods worth over 50 million naira ($298,000) hourly on Black Friday in 2014 with a total of $3.5 Million worth of orders compared to $300,000 the previous year, with most of the orders coming from its mobile app.
Shagaya said they expect to top the figure this year.
With Valentine’s Day coming up next week, Jumia has launched a campaign to offer customers several love-themed products such as dates and exotic clothing in partnership with condom manufacturing company Durex.
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These e-commerce portals are known for running sales campaigns during popular holiday seasons including Christmas, Easter, New Year and also Islamic holidays
Jumia Nigeria’s co-chief executive officer Nicola Martin told AFKInsider these offers and campaigns that are usually in response to its customers’ demands and not a ploy by the site to introduce American holidays in Nigeria in order to increase their sales.
“We listen to our customers and we give them what they want,” Martin said.
FunkeAdesina, an online shopper, said the best way these e-commerce sites were capitalizing on the long tradition in Nigeria to give gift to family and friends during major holidays.
“Nigerians still give gifts to families, friends and loved ones. I believe these holidays have specific gifts that are best fit. People are tired of buying greeting cards all the time; they want to give gifts that are best appropriate. This desire to buy better gifts has created a vacuum that the e-commerce platforms can comfortably fill,” Adesina said.
Last December, a New York Times report called attention to the online deals, some of which were revealed to be misleading. Similar developments had been rumored to be occurring in Nigeria although the ecommerce platforms in Nigeria are evolving new strategies to get best deals for their customers.
“What they are doing is to get in touch with the manufacturers directly and ask for great deals on products. Even though not every manufacturer will agree, those that do will get large sales,” said a former employee of Jumia Nigeria who spoke to AFKInsider on condition of anonymity.
A good example, he said, was the unbelievable deals customers got on Samsung’s flat screen television sets during the last Black Friday sales, where Jumia was retailing the TV at between 30,000 and 40,000 Naira more than half the price the set went for in electronic shops in Lagos.
These kinds of bargains are making new holidays such as Thanksgiving and Halloween popular in Nigeria.
Some local schools have also started to hold special events for these holidays, thus raising concerns in some quarters that such foreign holidays especially those that have been made popular by e-commerce platforms, could find their ways into Nigeria’s calendar.
“I believe it is still too early to start talking about Nigeria declaring a public holiday for Thanksgiving, Halloween or others,” said Mary Adeseun, a history scholar in Ibadan, southwest Nigeria.
“(More) people will continue to recognize these foreign holidays but I don’t think they will easily make it to our calendars.”