The online mall, which has finished the beta testing for its Ghana and Kenya sites, allows online shoppers to buy from retailers globally and get items delivered within three days.
E-commerce in Africa faces several problems, low credit card usage among them. In addition, global companies are reluctant to accept credit cards because of fraud reputation, especially in markets like Nigeria.
"MallforAfrica has a mission to bring true e-commerce into Africa and prevent the barriers that have long chained our continent from doing business online with stores in the U.S. and U.K.," said Chris Folayan, MallforAfrica CEO. "We plan on improving lives, increasing access and providing a new form of thinking when people think about online shopping,"
MallforAfrica offers a desktop application or an app that can be downloaded onto Windows, Android or iOS smartphones.
Within the app, users choose the store they want to purchase from and are then directed to the store's website. Users then can browse as they would normally, but when they are ready to purchase an item, they are brought back to the MallforAfrica app, which lets them buy goods with a locally issued credit card or a MallforAfrica Web card, a pre-paid card that can be used to make purchases on MallforAfrica.com and affiliate sites.
The Web card can be obtained from a variety of distributors and loaded via an online transfer, wire, or online with a locally issued credit card. Customs, shipping and MallforAfrica fees are calculated at checkout depending on the item.
MallforAfrica users can make purchases at over 120 stores in the U.S. and U.K. Some of the stores that accept the card are Macy's, Amazon, Juicy Couture, FragranceNet, Marks and Spencer, Ghost, Selfridges, Sephora, H&M and Apple.
MallforAfrica now ships three tons of merchandise per week and does tens of millions of dollars worth of transactions per year.
"We've had an incredible amount of success with MallforAfrica. Since it has been available to Nigerian consumers we've done a remarkable number of transactions resulting in seven-figure revenues," said Macys.com CEO Kent Anderson.
MallforAfrica also offers MallforAfrica Auction and MallforAfrica Deals. The two sites are aimed at providing customers with exceptional deals without using the app and going to a store.
Shipping and delivery is a challenge on the continent because most online outlets do not ship to the region; usually the buyer organizes his own shipping. MallforAfrica manages the shipping for users however, and can ship to homes or strategically located depots, from where users can pick up their merchandise.
The site's success so far has come from, among other things, solving credit card and shipping issues that many Africans face.
"MallforAfrica has made it so easy for me to purchase what I want from the US. It has been an amazing experience I have never had to be able to buy items online from US and UK sites online and get them in Nigeria," said P. Ajayi, a shopper from Nigeria.
MallforAfrica is set to open up in Ghana and Kenya by the end of the month.