DHL Express has acquired a minority stake in Link Commerce, the UK-based e-commerce firm that helped the logistics company develop its DHL Africa eShop platform.
The acquisition demonstrates the company’s commitment to growing e-commerce in Africa, says DHL Express sub-Saharan Africa CEO Hennie Heymans.
“Acquiring a stake in Link Commerce, the company behind the MallforAfrica.com platform, . . . positions us to realise our ambitions of growing the eShop offering globally, and to work on the scalability of the platform when the opportunity arises.”
”DHL’s investment in Link Commerce is a perfect fit,” adds Link Commerce and Mall for Africa founder and CEO Chris Folayan.
“With the DHL investment we are now able to grow faster by leveraging the shipping network DHL has built globally.
“This will help us expand our white-label turnkey B2B e-commerce platform and provide online shoppers with the ability to shop more and get more at great shipping rates, fast.”
Just more than one year on from its initial launch, the DHL Africa eShop continues to see “massive growth in sub-Saharan Africa”, says Heymans.
He says the DHL Africa eShop has consistently outperformed expectations since its launch.
“The platform was developed in partnership with Link Commerce and initially launched in 11 African countries in April, 2019.
It was an immediate success, gaining around 5 000 subscribers within the first six weeks.
“Today, DHL Africa eShop is live in 34 countries across sub-Saharan Africa with tens of thousands of users across the continent.”
The DHL Africa eShop offers African consumers access to international retailers.
“DHL Africa eShop enables African customers to shop directly from over 200 US- and UK-based online retailers, with purchases delivered directly to their door, by DHL Express,” explains Heymans.
“Online buying behaviours and product mixes have evolved quite significantly since the onset of Covid-19,” he adds.
“Some of the most popular items on the platform now include productivity and communications devices to support remote working, home and kitchen appliances, entertainment gadgets and health-related products, in addition to the historic orders of fashion and beauty products.
“Consumer interests have shifted towards goods that are harder to source locally. With brick-and-mortar retailers in many regions operating at reduced capacity, consumers have turned to online shopping to acquire the goods they need.”
Heymans says the group has seen “impressive growth” coming from countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Angola, Uganda and Kenya during the various stages of Covid-19 lockdowns.
He notes that assurance of delivery has become a top priority for consumers.
Basket sizes have also increased, as shoppers seek everything they need immediately, rather than spacing out their orders.
Heymans explains that while the e-commerce market in sub-Saharan Africa has been largely overlooked by international retailers in the past, it currently offers some of the biggest opportunities for rapid growth.
A report published by Rapid B2C forecasts that Africa’s online retail market will reach an 11-digit dollar value in 2020, while another report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that this value could potentially reach $75-billion by 2025.
“These growth predictions, coupled with the incredible demand and quick uptake of the DHL Africa eShop offering, confirm that this acquisition is the right move to ensure DHL Express is geared for continued growth,” says Heymans.
As part of the acquisition, Heymans has been made a board member of London-based Link Commerce.
DHL Express has operations across 51 markets in sub-Saharan Africa.