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How Locally owned Nigerian businesses can maximize their sales online.

Nigeria is currently one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. In 2021, Nigeria ranked 33rd in the world in the eCommerce industry with a revenue of US$7 billion, surpassing Denmark according to ecommercedb. Combined with the growth of the worldwide eCommerce market in 2021, the Nigerian eCommerce market saw an increase of 30%. Jumia.com.ng is the leading e-commerce player in Nigeria, generating 22 million dollars in revenue in 2021. Next in line was Slot.ng with US$7 million in revenue.

Despite these amazing feats, a lot of African online stores still struggle to keep their head over water. This is because of the slow adoption of online shopping across the country. Over 70 percent of Nigerians are still skeptical about shopping online and are yet to be captured by the e-Commerce industry data according to Konga.

 

From the data released by Statista in 2022, total shoppers from Nigeria amount to 76million shoppers in a population of over 206million people. Bear in mind that most of these shoppers are not patronizing their local stores at home. Rather, they do so from foreign online vendors like Amazon, EBay, Aliexpress e.t.c.

 

Even though many people engage in online banking (e-banking), most people still aren’t open to the idea of shopping online, especially in the local markets, and prefer to transact in person. The reasons for the slow adoption of online shopping within the Nigerian market are numerous; we have divided them into two categories: controllable and uncontrollable. Uncontrollable factors just as the name implies, are factors that are beyond the control of the local vendors or businesses offering these products while controllable is centered on factors that are within the control of the local businesses offering their products in the online market space.

For this exposé, we will dwell more on the factors that are within our control, and we can act upon in the space of six months or less.

Beyond uncontrollable factors like access to the internet in some parts of the nation, technological illiteracy, power supply, increased data costs, and inability to afford mobile phones due to poverty, there are more factors that forestall online adoption. The results of a survey of 9700 online consumers showed that three out of five respondents did not trust web merchants even though they had access to online facilities.

The lack of trust in online vendors has been found to be the major factor affecting the adoption of online shopping rather than trust in the system. Nigeria is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world, engaging in widespread Internet fraud. According to a recent survey conducted by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Nigeria ranks third in the world ranking with 8.0% of cybercrime perpetrators.(Internet Crime Complaint Center, 2009). Considering how large Nigeria’s population is (i.e. over 200 million people), this percentage represents a considerable threat to the Internet. Thus, most online buyers are wary when dealing with vendors from Nigeria for fear of fraud and loss of money.

 

How can local businesses build trust?

An individual’s perception of a vendor can influence their trustworthiness on the Internet. The more people trust you, the more comfortable they are in doing business with you. As a growing business, building trust should be paramount in your business strategy. However, most people as well as businesses are more concerned about their immediate gratification and quick profits.

Online trust is one of the biggest challenges because Nigerians have difficulty trusting things they cannot see. With every passing day, there are new avenues to do business, online marketing is the future of economic development. Trust is an important component of a company’s reputation online – you do not deserve it; you have to earn it. Trust is not just about saying you are legit online or having one or two testimonials; it’s when customers don’t need recommendations from elsewhere before patronizing your business. Creating online trust will require you to acknowledge that no two experiences will ever be the same, and there will be pitfalls along the way.

The issue of trust boils down to the risks associated with virtual transactions. Zuroni and Goh, (2012) defined risk as the subjectively determined expectation of loss by an online purchaser in contemplating a particular online purchase. Some of the risk people face online includes financial risk, poor product performance or fictitious product, high costs of shipping and inefficient delivery.

Financial risk stems from paying more for a product than  necessary or not getting enough value for the money spent (Roehl and Fesenmaier 1992). One uncontrollable factor that fuels this risk in Nigeria is the lack of a nationally accepted and recognized payment method for online goods and services.

Fortunately, private payment solutions such as Flutterwave and Paystack especially, have provided a means to receive payments. The advantage that comes with these payment platforms is the fact that they are trusted. Leveraging on their trust as an avenue to receive payment will increase your credibility.

Consequently, this also affects the risk of product performance. How effective/authentic is your product?

Authenticity is the ability of the goods and services advertised to meet their stated quality, i.e. the quality displayed in the web should be the same as what the consumer receives. Online businesses in Nigeria often produce attractive social media profiles and display high-quality items but produce or offer low-quality services to attract customers.

A wise man once said, ‘Marketing will sell a product once, but a product will sell a product twice’ No matter how much marketing gimmick is employed to sell a product that fails to meet up to expectation of the buyer, it is only a matter of time before it fails. This is because people will rely on the testimony of other people than what you say or claim. The phrase ‘what I ordered vs what I got’ is popular because of this flaw. This is common with things like hair and fashion items.

Authentic images help build online trust. Provide social proof and content resources to help customers transact with your business, but don’t portray a product or service you don’t offer. Encourage customer reviews and testimonials.

It is also important that online companies deal in good quality products. A terrible product will be hard to sell and vice versa. With a wide range of products, services, information, technology, as well as retail stores and channels, consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and demanding. Hence, we must put in our best to meet up to their demands.

Optimizing your product performance is not just limited to the physical product in itself. It’s the holistic experience! This is where customer service also comes in. As an e-commerce business, your product is not just the tangible items you sell, it is the sum-total of the experience your customer gets when they make contact with your brand. This in all, affects the perception of your actual product performance.

Since internet purchasers do not have the opportunity to physically inspect the goods they are buying before purchasing, they must rely on the available representations of the goods. As a result, they tend to ask lots of questions. Dedicated customer experience expert(s) must be available to answer to their questions and follow up and as at when due.

Another issue of customer experience is the stringent, ridiculous purchase policies adopted by some online merchants such as ‘No payment, no delivery’. No returns allowed etc. These policies inhibit growth overtime. Your returning customers might be comfortable with these policies but not your new clients which is where expansion is tied to. We understand that the ‘pay on delivery’ option could be a major factor as nobody wants to lose (both buyer and seller). To encourage people to pay before delivery, you can incentivize them. For instance, Jumia Pay offers customers who shop on their website 5% cash back if they pay before delivery.

Beyond trust, other issues like logistics and shipping cost may deter a potential buyer. A buyer can trust your product, but they may not trust your ability to deliver in time. As a growing e-business, it is only reasonable to engage the service of a reliable logistics company that offer quick delivery at reasonable cost. A good example is DHL ecommerce that offers pick up and delivery at customer-friendly prices.

The last but not the least controllable factor is the lack of reliability of our online shopping gateways. People should not have to go through hell to buy from you. A couple of online merchants complain that their buyers call them in the middle of the night to buy goods from them. If a digitalized system where customers can place orders without human intervention such as a website or mobile application, such occurrences would not occur.

Some others on the other hand, have websites that are unreliable or not user-friendly; others have become obsolete. According to Forrester’s research 1999, an ideal shoppable site must have the following factors.

  • High-quality content.
  • Ease of use.
  • User-friendly design.
  • Customer centric in focus.
  • Easy to download.
  • Frequently updated.

Every organization must strive to ensure that their online platform keeps to these golden rules.To attract shoppers, keep them longer on and make them return to the sites, it must be attractive and user friendly.

This is the part where most businesses fail.  To ensure the effectiveness of your online market space, it is important to work with companies who specialize in developing highly functional digitalized solutions such as websites or web applications, mobile applications, landing pages etc. Software companies like   Apptide Technologies is definitely your surest bet to help you achieve this. In every web/app design, the goal is the user, and this is what Apptide technologies is devoted to help you achieve. You can easily book a free consultation with Apptide here to discuss how you can fully optimize your online experience!

 

Continuous development of our online shopping platforms and processes, product performance, customer support and fulfillment builds customer loyalty; which is vital to the growth and success of every e-merchant business in today’s competitive world.