Prosuma’s online store Yaatoo closes down in Côte d’Ivoire

Prosuma’s online store Yaatoo, which launched in 2016, has closed down. The site, which stocked 12,000 SKUs drawn from Prosuma’s warehouses, was being talked about as late as June this year as being a viable competitor to online giant Jumia.

When it launched in 2016, Yaatoo sold around 4,500 SKUs. That grew to 12,000. 90% of sales are of products were sourced via Prosuma, according to Yaatoo’s CEO Dougnan Coulibaly. Initially, consumers had to pick up purchases from selected Prosuma stores in Abidjan. Subsequently, Yaatoo rolled out delivery services, even offering an express 2 hour option.

Although Yaatoo partnered with Ecobank and offered digital payment, more than 50% of purchases were cash on delivery – a ruinously expensive and complicated system for any online retailer in sub Saharan Africa.

Yaatoo was the number 2 player in Côte d’Ivoire. But a distant second to Jumia, which is now effectively the only major player left. Several other players have also exited or are about to: Afrimarket (now in liquidation), cdiscount (Casino/Bolloré), and CFAO’s online platform Afrishop. DHL’s niche Africa eShop platform, which serves high end customers by connecting them withn US/European retail brands, continues to offer its services in Côte d’Ivoire.

Its a familiar story but bears repeating. Jumia continues to lose money, but has the backing of deep pocketed investors and a post-IPO war chest. Markets like Côte d’Ivoire are still extremely immature, and it’s not clear that even Jumia can make its retail operations profitable within a 5-10 year horizon given the small scale involved and the cost of operations. Jumia does, however, have the ability to leverage its customer base for other services – financial services, hotel and travel booking, jobs, classifieds, fast food ordering etc.