About three weeks ago, international logistics company DHL launched an eCommerce platform, called Africa eShop, to help global retailers sell goods to Africa’s consumer markets.
The platform uses proxy shopping app, MallforAfrica’s white label service -- Link Commerce -- which it says will facilitate local payments, procurement and delivery.
This is not the first time DHL is partnering with MallforAfrica to create an eCommerce platform.
DHL has been a logistics partner for MallforAfrica since 2018 and in July 2018, the two companies teamed up to launch Marketplace Africa, an eCommerce site that helps local African artisans sell their products to global consumer markets in any of DHL’s 220 delivery countries.
“As the global leader in express logistics, DHL is well positioned to connect African consumers with exciting global brands. This is yet another opportunity for DHL to reaffirm its commitment to supporting the growth of eCommerce in the region,” reads a statement about Africa eShop from DHL’s Sub Saharan Africa Regional Services team.
Upon reading the news of the launch of Africa eShop, it might be easy to come to a conclusion that DHL is launching its own stand-alone eCommerce platform, with MallforAfrica simply providing the technology through its white label service. However, that isn’t the case.
Africa eShop’s offerings are very similar to that of MallforAfrica. Both platforms give users access to shop on over 200 US and UK shops online from Africa.
Africa eShop is available in 11 African markets; Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Uganda, while MallforAfrica is online in 17 countries. Both websites look similar, as is expected since Africa eShop is a white labelled product.
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All of these beg the question of the terms and conditions surrounding the partnership and MallforAfrica’s purpose of providing white label services identical to its primary offerings.
These were some of the few questions we had in mind when we reached out to DHL and MallforAfrica recently.
“Africa eShop is a product under the MallforAfrica brand and with the help of DHL, will scale to other African countries,” Chris Folayan, CEO of MallforAfrica tells Techpoint.
“DHL as you can imagine has a wider footprint across Africa, one that no other distribution and delivery company has. So you step back and say to yourself, ‘“who would be the best partner to help me expand my business that has a great brand?’”. The answer for us is DHL,” he adds.
Based on Chris Folayan statements, Link Commerce’s role in DHL’s Africa eShop, as with other companies it services, is to expand MallforAfrica’s eCommerce model across Africa and create new revenues for the company through licensing fees and revenue sharing.
He explains the situation using a Fanta and Sprite analogy.
“I wouldn’t say Fanta and Sprite compete even though they are under the Coca-Cola umbrella. They work in harmony, supporting each other and expanding to different market segments. To dominate the market, you need to have different variations of your products and partnerships.”
Apparently, Link Commerce services other companies asides DHL. However, Chris says he cannot mention them for privacy reasons.
Through partnerships with these companies that can benefit from eCommerce to support their businesses, MallforAfrica wants to dominate the African retail eCommerce market.
At a time when the African eCommerce industry is experiencing ups (Jumia’s IPO) and major downs with the shut down of a number of eCommerce players in the recent past, MallforAfrica says it is partnering with companies across the continent to grow “faster, quicker, and more efficiently.”
The motive of the company's expansion model is still mostly unclear, but Chris Folayan is confident that it is what the company needs to grow across the continent.
“I hope more businesses will follow the model of partnership to grow. It is a win-win and we love this model,” he adds.