Aderonke (Adé) Ajose-Adeyemi worked as an engineer with international financial services firms for many years before setting up Losode, a Lagos-based e-commerce marketplace platform which brings together African fashion designers and entrepreneurs with customers from around the world. Losode is focused on helping to establish the complete online fashion retail value chain for the continent.
What are the biggest challenges of running a B2C e-commerce business in Africa?
For most Africa e-commerce companies the biggest challenges are seen in logistics, payments, and talent. Concerns remain around the lack of standards across the board, absence of address matching, cumbersome processes and the fact that the technology has to be constantly adapted to suit each third-party partner, resulting in increased supplier onboarding timelines. There are other political and economic factors that have a direct impact on costs, which are in most cases passed on to the end user. In response to this, we have started to look closer into models like agency supply, developing a logistics people network amongst other innovative solutions.
On payments, there are many great solutions in the market but challenges remain particularly in transactions of a more complex nature. Although it’s still early days you eventually will see us roll out the first stages of LosodePay.
Talent is the challenge on which other challenges rest and once you solve the talent problem, other things fall into place. Our tech ecosystem as a whole is still relatively young so there just are not that many people with the expertise and experience you need to deliver the work that is needed. This means the genuinely competent ones are rare and in high demand.
How do you expect fashion e-commerce to evolve in Africa over the next few years?
People must wear clothes, right? Fashion remains the most valuable e-commerce sector and that is one of the reasons we are starting with it as we look to expand to other verticals. There are 281 million online shoppers in Africa today and this number is expected to rise to 520 million by 2025. The average transaction size online is $65, and this is expected to rise as well. There is no shortage of demand for fashion across the continent however we have also seen a rise in supply across the continent. With growing internet penetration and a mobile-first population, the stage is set for a fashion e-commerce boom on the continent. We need to build robust and effective platforms that connect consumers to entrepreneurs to maximize the opportunity.
Which African countries offer the best potential for expansion for your business and why?
We started in Nigeria, but already have sellers in Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. We will take a phased approach as we roll out to the 46 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, deciding which cities we are active in by assessing GDP, commercial activity and population size. We have earmarked 15 countries in our first phase, and this includes some of Nigeria’s neighboring countries. We will also be actively listening for cities or countries calling out for us. Our mission is to make it easier for consumers from across the world to access African brands and for African entrepreneurs to scale their businesses effectively.
How can Africa’s tech ecosystems develop better leaders and managers?
I think we need to shine a light on the good leaders and managers that we already have. Too often, the conversation centers around what people shouldn’t be but I believe you can change the culture by giving people something to aspire to rather than focussing on what they should avoid. There are many good leaders with the right qualities that need to be platformed and celebrated as examples of good leadership we want to see.