OLX Kenya’s good days are behind the e-commerce platform. The site, which grew its popularity back in the day has been struggling to make ends meet owing to the booming e-commerce space in the local market. Nevertheless, the site has its fans, and while it continues to be marred by isolated cases of fraud (managing legitimate vendors has always been a challenge), it has pulled along to see its current changes.
Acquisition by Jiji
According to an email sent out to users, OLX says it is planning to improve customer user experience by partnering with Walie Holdings Ltd. Walie is the parent company that runs Jiji.ke. To this end, Jiji will, therefore, power a new website and experience. The core purpose of OLX will remain, only the user experience, and most certainly the leadership of the site will see new faces.
These developments will go live as of June 20, 2019. It is also worth noting that this is an acquisition that has been in the pipeline for some time. Notably, OLX, which is owned by Naspers (that also runs OLX Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda), will be run by Jiji based on an announcement that was made sometime in April 2019. Jiji will manage 8 million active customers, withe the lions share of the base living in Nigeria.
Less than two months ago, OLX said the acquisition exercise was pending regulatory approval, and while no information has since been communicated, the imminent transition from OLX to Jiji implies all is good.
“When you come to our website, it will redirect you to Jiji.ke, but you will still be able to sign in and continue using your existing account there without having to create a new one,” reads part of the email to existing customers.
OLX further reports that it will transfer account details such as personal information and active adverts to Walie by June 14.
OLX launched in Kenya back in 2012. Its local business was received positively thanks to its ease of use. Vendors could advertise and sell their wares in a couple of clicks. Sellers would also access goods by linking up with sellers. The site, at a later date, would release a series of guidelines for users to safeguard against cases of fraud that started creeping into the platform thanks to its inability to verify vendors besides those who sold high-value products like vehicles.
Early in 2018, it was rumoured that OLX was shutting down its operations in Kenya and Nigeria. The site, at a later date, said that that was not the case as it was pursuing leads to make significant changes regarding its operations that entailed letting go of its local office and the one in Nigeria. Perhaps partnering with Jiji is one of the changes that were reported at that time.
Local staff left OLX after internal deliberations, and their departure preceded an exit of the managerial team as of May 2018.
Failure to break even in those two markets is nothing new. As mentioned, the space continues to be extremely competitive as new players stream in with superior products and business models. Besides slow customer adoption, established players such Jumia continue to experience ups and downs after listing in the NYSE.