In my time with TechCabal, I have covered my fair share of eCommerce startups. It would seem they are a dime a dozen these days. And it’s almost like new ones spring up everyday, we never get to hear about. One might be tempted to ask why there are so many eCommerce startups.

Save for the “Big Two” – Konga and Jumia and a couple niche eCommerce sites like Supermart, Oveem and Gloo, most of the eCommerce startups I have encountered come across as pretenders. So many pretenders that I attribute this trend to a serious case of “follow-follow”…”Simon says”, if you would. It’s like everybody wants to become a startup founder and the easiest route is eCommerce. I mean, Konga and Jumia must be making truckloads of money right? Wrong.

Amazon, the world’s biggest eCommerce store still operates at a loss, after over 20 years in business. Konga and Jumia are operating under harsher conditions than when Amazon started – they are their own postal service, payments don’t work the way they should, no recurring payments so they can’t offer the pocket drilling one-click purchases and they have to contend with the daily risk of accepting payment on delivery. We never get to hear how often shipped and paid for items are rejected, or even hijacked on delivery.

I don’t believe Konga and Jumia are profitable, yet. But hey, like Amazon, they’ve got some pretty awesome financial backing from Kinnevik and Naspers and Rocket Internet respectively. But what is the motivation for eCommerce startups like Swop365, MyGizmoStore and Gidimall? I wish I knew. Do these guys even qualify as eCommerce startups?

I don’t know, maybe their existence is necessary to provide some kind of balance to the ecosystem. Here’s some  perspective; India had an estimated over 900 eCommerce sites as at last year. However, the US has got somewhere between and estimated 110,000 and 500,000 eCommerce startups!

How many eCommerce sites are there in Nigeria? I don’t know. That would take some rrigorous research to estimate. However, if the US and India, with pretty mature ecosystems can have so many eCommerce startups, perhaps even more local eCommerce startups wouldn’t hurt. I just wish a lot more of them weren’t as uninspiring.

Photo Credit: Alvy via Compfight cc

Muyiwa Matuluko Author

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