After two years of operation, DHL Africa is shutting down its pan-African online retail platform, e-Shop, at the end of the month.
“We are no longer accepting orders and this service will be closed effective October 30th, 2021. All orders in process will be shipped or refunded. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused,” a message on the Africa eShop website reads.
Launched in 2019, eShop was designed to help global retailers sell goods to Africa’s consumer markets.
Through the platform, consumers in Africa could shop directly from more than 200 US- and UK-based online retailers, with purchases delivered to their door by DHL Express.
Being a global leader in express logistics, DHL appeared to be well-positioned to connect African consumers with global brands, and an early-stage boom suggested that presumption was correct.
Within seven weeks of operations in 11 countries, DHL expanded the platform to nine more countries across the continent. This followed “impressive growth” in the usage of the Africa eShop app, Hennie Heymans, CEO of DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) said at the time. By August of 2019, the platform had been rolled out to 34 countries across SSA.
Once considered a threat to leading e-commerce players in Africa, DHL’s eShop offered relatively faster delivery compared to its peers but was also one of the most expensive platforms for international shopping.
However, for reasons not stated, eShop has now been delisted from mobile application stores and some features on the platform have been disabled as DHL moves to shut down the service on October 30.
It is not immediately clear if the company is closing its eShop operations in other regions too, such as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
A white-labeled product
While the Africa eShop appears to be a standalone e-commerce platform owned by DHL, that isn’t the case.
The eShop service was developed using Link Commerce, a white-label solution for e-commerce in emerging markets, owned by Nigerian company MallforAfrica.
Retailers can plug into Link Commerce’s platform to create a web-based storefront that manages payments, procurement, and logistics to sell online.
Being a white-labeled product, DHL’s Africa eShop website and offerings are very similar to that of MallforAfrica.
DHL has been a logistics partner for MallforAfrica since 2018 and that was not the first time both parties would come together to create an e-commerce platform.
In July 2018, the two companies co-launched Marketplace Africa, an e-commerce site for local African artisans to sell their products to buyers in any of DHL’s over 200 delivery countries.
Last year, DHL bought a minority stake in Link Commerce as it looked to expand its logistics customer base in Africa.