How Coca-Cola Nigeria e-Commerce sales rebound amid pandemic ─CEO

*Company adjusts prices and product packs to remain viable with e-Commerce orders as a proportion of sales is an ambition to scale it to double digit and make it a very big significant channel of choice for our consumers in Nigeria, says Alfred Olajide, Chief Executive Officer of Coca-Cola Company

Emmanuel Akosile | ConsumerConnect

As economic activities further have gained momentum in the country’s economy during the pandemic, Coca-Cola Company, Nigeria Unit, has said that it experienced a threefold increase in electronic commerce (e-Commerce) sales this year.

The development is said to have followed the Coronavirus-induced lockdowns and restrictions in Nigeria, the developments which have inspired a change in consumer habits in Africa’s most populous country, Bloomberg report said.

The US beverage giant witnessed a sharp rise in online sales of its products after the country joined the global trend of imposing movement restrictions on people to contain the spread of the virus, according to Alfred Olajide, the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Olajide, who disclosed this in an interview in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, said: “The first one month of COVID-19 was the pivot point,” for e-commerce penetration in the company

He further noted: “We have more than tripled the e-commerce business that we have in our portfolio.”

Nigeria is seen as a frontier for growth in e-commerce due to a largely youthful population with an average age of 18 and increased data penetration, report said.

The use of smartphones is poised to rise almost fourfold to 140 million by 2025, according to Statista.com, adding to the number of people going online to buy everything from groceries to garments.

Olajide also said the maker of Fanta and Sprite carbonated drinks and Eva water is partnering with online shopping firms, including Jumia Technologies AG, a Berlin-based e-commerce platform that provides services in Lagos to push its products in the country.

He stated: “Right now e-commerce orders as a proportion of sales is still in the single digit but the ambition for us is to scale it to double digit and make it a very big significant channel of choice for our consumers.

“We are partnering to help the trend grow and you will see more of that coming through in our strategy.”

As sales are bouncing back to pre-Coronavirus period, Olajide said though high inflation rate and unemployment have eroded disposable income in the country, Coca-Cola is starting to see sales return in 2021, and probably match pre-COVID period as the economy improves, Olajide said.

The company’s CEO as well disclosed that the company has adjusted prices and has “smaller, more value based pack sizes to cater for consumers that have low disposable income.”

This measure has helped sales to recover this year after they took a knock in 2020, as the country experienced its worst economic contraction since at least 1991 due to measures to contain COVID-19, he noted.

In respect of the impact of the reported foreign exchange (Forex) shortage hampering industries in Nigeria at a time, he said that has not impacted Coca-Cola operations.

According to him, the transnational company gets most of its inputs locally, including plastics, crowns, label and sugar.

Concentrates imports are not that huge to cause a disruption to the business, said he.

Olajide added: “What we do as an organisation is to look for ways to continue to be more efficient.

“There is a lot recovery happening in the business, and I will peg it to the fact that the country itself is improving.”

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