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Response Architects, Alibaba to launch lifestream shopping platform

The partnership will mobilise livestreaming solutions for vendors across Africa to draw a younger generation of mobile users and entrepreneurs.

Response Architects, operators of ShopEX, has teamed up with Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, to launch an African livestream shopping platform, Penda, in major markets including Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya.

ShopEX is Nigeria’s leading omnichannel direct-to-consumer retailer. Announced in June, HAVAÍC finalised investment of US$400,000 from its US$20 million HAVAÍC Universum Core African Fund in ShopEX. The investment forms part of a US$625,000 convertible note round alongside existing angel investors.

Leveraging on the successful launch of ShopEX’s teleshopping model, Penda will provide an end-to-end payment and fulfilment solution for vendors livestreaming across Africa. The platform’s architecture will enable merchants, influencers, and Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) to create and host their own livestream events to launch products, feature demos, and interact with customers in real time. In-app purchasing will allow seamless payment without leaving the livestream event or app.

Livestream shopping is the buzzword in e-commerce. In China alone, the industry generated over US$400 Billion in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) sales with Alibaba’s Taobao livestream registering 300 million users in 2021 and generating over US$323 Billion in GMV sales.

Similarly, social commerce is also gaining momentum in Africa. According to the Q1 2022 Social Commerce Survey, ‘the social commerce industry in Africa and the Middle East is expected to grow by 70.3% on an annual basis to reach US$8,903.7 million in 2022.’ In addition, it is also expected that the ‘social commerce GMV will increase from US$8,903.7 million in 2022 to US$13,337.2 million by 2028.’

Built on an integrated livestreaming and e-commerce platform, Penda will provide merchants with a complete suite of business solutions, from store set-up to payment, fulfilment, inventory management, and analytics, as well as access to finance to source and ship products from manufacturers and suppliers in China. Customers will be treated to live interactions with influencers and store owners, as well as daily discounted coupons for travel, restaurants, hotels, cinemas, and more.

ShopEX, Response Architect’s teleshopping business, has generated over US$2.5 million in sales since its launch in 2020. Chief Executive Isi Abebe sees livestreaming as an opportunity to pivot the TV shopping model and increase market share among a younger generation of mobile users and entrepreneurs.

"We tapped into this opportunity because we realised a lot of vendors were seeking new ways of marketing their goods using video content and engaging with their customers. We see Penda as the convergence of social and e-commerce which will radically change the way people shop on the continent," said Isi.

Daniel Jiang, General Manager (Middle East and Africa) and Head of International Hybrid Cloud Business Development, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, added, “We are delighted to collaborate with Response Architects to enable the digital economy in the region.”

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