I really, really did not want to try Jumia Food. My last experiences with their predecessor Hellofood were just so (insert three exclamation marks) bad. But one busy evening, I caved. I downloaded the Jumia app on my phone, ordered a pizza from one of our favorite spots (Hello, Le Colorado!) and hoped for the best.
You know what I got? The best. The pizza arrived quickly and fully intact in the hands of a courteous delivery person who did not call me for additional directions and even had the right change.
I figured it was a fluke, so I tried again. And again. And again. Each time I went to order, they had added new restaurants – some that I know and love and others that I have since discovered because of the app. (Quick shout-out here to three of my favorite recent additions to Jumia’s app: Freekeh, Mister Lasagne and Melo Patisserie.)
We’ve been using the app for a couple months now and I decided it’s time to go public on Dakar Eats because it has been such a lifesaver for me. Quick and easy, comprehensive and so far… great service.
However, as I said, my last experiences with Hellofood were so bad that I wanted to shake down Jumia a bit before giving them the Dakar Eats seal. So I contacted the director of Jumia Food, Iban Olçomendy. In the times I’ve talked with him for this interview and otherwise, I have been so impressed by his professionalism, openness and positivity.
Want to know more? Here we go!
Dakar Eats: Thanks for talking with us, Iban. Many people were frustrated (and even very angry) with Hellofood in the end. Has Jumia Food taken over Hellofood, or is it completely different?
Iban Olçomendy: Hellofood was the first to launch an online ordering service with delivery in Senegal and it was a huge challenge! How do we ensure quality delivery without a real address? How do we convince restaurant owners (who know their profession) to change their habits and get on board with Hellofood? How do we train all the players involved to use the Internet tools, to respect the schedules indicated on the platform, in order to offer and guarantee a high quality delivery experience for the client?
I genuinely believe that Hellofood has made some solid improvements towards being a more professional company in this market, but it is true that we have made mistakes. When Hellofood was transformed into Jumia Food, we challenged ourselves to establishing a completely new online ordering experience in Dakar.
Let’s say that Hellofood was the good-natured teenager, who wanted to move faster and faster despite some of the risks. Jumia Food on the other hand is more mature and experienced, having learned from its mistakes. It is more focused on wanting to build and grow something long term.
DE: In my experience, I’d say those are accurate analogies. So how is Jumia Food different from Hellofood?
IO: The basic concept of Jumia Food and Hellofood are the same. The customer orders online with a few clicks and is delivered food anywhere in Dakar. However, at various stages of the process, the changes are significant.
We have a better-designed website and app, both very user-friendly, a much wider variety of restaurants available on the platform, quality customer service is an absolute must, and a better delivery experience overall, for all.
DE: When did Jumia Food open in Dakar?
IO: The Hellofood to Jumia Food change took place in June 2016, but the real changes have been felt in the past six months.
DE: And you offer online ordering as well as a delivery service?
IO: Jumia Food does not define itself as strictly a delivery service, but it is a service we offer selective restaurants. As it is currently, you will encounter Jumia Food delivery personnel (wearing orange vests) in two circumstances: first if the restaurant does not have its own delivery service, or if we are more efficient in delivery than the restaurant.
This is one of our development goals in 2017, given the overall quality of delivery in Dakar – which can be catastrophic! We have worked hard with our delivery men to ensure a better delivery experience. For example, Jumia Food delivery personnel do not have the right to call the customer before arriving in front of them. If they are lost, they must call our customer service who will direct them. We are working hard to ensure they have CFA change for your order and telephone credit. Also, they must be able to express themselves well, be polite and present themselves correctly to the client.
DE: Are your delivery personnel assigned to specific restaurants or neighborhoods?
IO: Our delivery personnel are assigned to neighborhoods, but they only get orders from restaurants in their area. So, if you order from the same restaurant on a regular basis, you will probably have the same delivery person.
DE: Many people say they avoid delivery services in Dakar because the drivers get lost or the food gets cold. How does Jumia Food approach these challenges?
IO: For one, we chose to reduce the delivery areas of the restaurants on the platform. A restaurant located in Les Almadies does not generally deliver to the Plateau via Jumia Food. From experience, we know that this will have a negative impact on the quality of the food.
Moreover, when you place your an order with us for the first time, you will receive a call from Jumia Food’s customer service, who asks you as much information as possible about your address so that they can guide the delivery person to your home and avoid the situation where you get 10 calls from the delivery man, which makes you regret placing your order in the first place.
Unfortunately, as it is today, this system only works when the restaurant is using Jumia Food delivery service. Ideally, all the restaurants in Dakar will follow this option. We are working on it!
DE: Is there anything else you want us to know about Jumia Food?
IO: When you place an order on Jumia Food, several players intervene in the process and it is difficult for us to master it at 100%. Our aim is to ensure that each of our partners are looking for perfection: restaurant, customer service, delivery. It is a long-term job but our ambition is there and we will focusing on achieving it!
Please continue to share your customer feedback at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. We read all of the feedback very carefully and use it to improve the experience with Jumia Food.
DE: Thank you, Iban! And keep up the good work. We appreciate it.