Online shopping in Nigeria has come of age. About two decades ago, only a few persons would have thought that online shopping would gain as much acceptance as it does today.
The emergence of e-commerce has shown us that Nigeria is quick to embrace technology and that they’re willing to measure up with standard practices. If the likes of Amazon, eBay, Aliexpress, Etsy and other e-commerce giants can thrive in the advanced countries, nothing stops Nigeria (with its huge market potential) from thriving down here.
Although there were doubts in the beginning (and there still is), many Nigerians began to embrace the idea of shopping online as more companies brought their businesses to Nigeria. It was a long time coming for Nigeria, though, Konga eventually blazed the trail when it launched in 2012.
Ever since Konga and Jumia exposed the Nigeria market to online shopping, other platforms have also come into prominence and there has been no looking back since then.
Online Shopping in Nigeria: What Alternatives?
Technological advancement is unarguably the biggest factor responsible for the revolution of commerce in Nigeria. The emergence of smart devices, social media, and affordable internet connectivity opened the eyes of many people to different business opportunities including e-commerce.
This situation completely changed the way people conduct their shopping activities. It also meant that people who had things to sell could explore more than one means.
There are about 6 common methods for selling online products in Nigeria at the moment. All of these methods have their pros and cons and if you’re an entrepreneur looking to invest in the e-commerce industry, you may choose any of the methods listed below.
These methods also make available to buyers quite a great number of options whenever they’re shopping online.
- E-commerce websites that operate seller centres
- Brand websites that only list and sell their own products
- Dropshipping websites
- Classified advert websites
- Individuals who sell their products via micro-blogs
- Individuals who sell their products via Social Media
Now, let’s take a look at each of these methods one after the other and how well e-commerce has thrived in Nigeria.
1. E-commerce websites that operate seller centres
Online shopping platforms in this category include Jumia, Konga, Payporte, SME Market Hub and a host of other websites. These platforms own little or no inventory and virtually all the products you see on their websites are owned by individuals and corporate organizations that are called vendors.
This method is of immense benefit to buyers, sellers, and the owners of the platforms. Buyers have access to a large variety of products at competitive prices and can compare prices from multiple platforms.
Another benefit of shopping online from such websites is that as a buyer, you have different payment options. You can either pay upon delivery or pay online. Also, the delivery fee is usually very affordable and goods are delivered on time.
For example, Jumia Express allows you to receive your products within 48 hours of placing your order. But you’d have to pay a slightly higher price compared to what you’d pay for normal delivery that could take up to 4 or 5 days.
Lastly, buyers can take advantage of special deals and offers where products are sold at massive discounts.
2. Brand websites that only list and sell their own products
One of the high sides of e-commerce is that it supports small business owners. You can get started with a little amount of money and still make huge profits. Today, many individuals run online businesses that allow them to reach their target market quickly. All they do is build e-commerce websites, list their products online and reach out to their prospective customers.
Any buyer that visits such websites can place an order and have their products delivered to their addresses. Such websites display their products with images, product descriptions, prices, delivery details, return policies and buyer guarantees.
Websites in this category are mostly individuals and small companies. They include Obeezi.com, Ajebomarket.com among others.
3. Dropshipping websites
Dropshipping websites are websites that sell products online through e-commerce leverage. Those who run Dropshipping websites do not have any inventory of their own; they simply rely on the inventory of bigger e-commerce platforms that do the entire job for them.
Here is how it works.
- A website is created with all the features of an e-commerce website.
- Products from big e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and AliExpress are preloaded onto the dropshipping website via certain web plugins.
- Once a buyer picks a product to buy and places an order, the buyer details are stored on the dropshipping website.
- The dropshipper then buys the product from the original seller (or product owner) on the e-commerce website and ships to the address of the buyer.
One of the advantages of this method is that it helps buyers to purchase products that they wouldn’t have been able to get on their own due to some restrictions. For example, an average Nigerian usually finds it difficult to buy products from Amazon. But with the help of a dropshipping website, he doesn’t have to worry because he will be able to place an order through the dropshipping website and have his items delivered to his address without any hassles.
Mall for Africa is a typical example of a dropshipping website in Nigeria and they dropship from over 50 e-commerce platforms around the world.
4. Classified advert websites
A classified advert website allows sellers to post free or paid adverts for their products. Once interested buyers see an ad, they contact the seller and negotiate the price (most times) without involving the owners of the website. However, most ads on such websites are paid ads.
On such platforms, people sell new and used products, tangible and intangible items, as well as services. Just think of anything. Buyers can negotiate prices with sellers and they can meet physically or by proxy to exchange the items.
One great thing about classified ad websites is that you can sell to or buy from the people in your local community. This is because the website displays the location of the seller. Therefore, when there are many sellers displaying similar items, you can choose to buy from the person that’s nearest to you. Olx.com and Jiji.ng are the foremost classified ad websites in Nigeria.
5. Individuals who sell their products via micro-blog
In this method, micro-blogs are specifically created to sell products that solve a single problem. Most times, these micro-blogs can be a single page or double page blogs with the sole intention of converting visitors to buyers.
First, they offer a free report to the blog visitors and ask them to enter emails. After this, potential buyers are directed to a sales page where they get to read everything about the specific product they want to purchase.
This method is very effective because it focuses on a single product. Most times, these products solve problems of dire need. The sales page contains all the necessary detail the buyer needs to make a buying decision.
Internet marketers and network marketers use this method a lot. And they drive sales via a series of email follow-ups until the buyers eventually purchase the product.
6. Individuals who sell their products via Social Media
Social media has grown to become an amazing platform for online shopping. Although its primary aim is to grow social connections especially with family and friends, many people now use it for business purposes.
If people spend a large chunk of their time on social media platforms, then it makes perfect sense to take your products and services to where people spend their time.
Come to think of it, you can create a shop on your Facebook page, there are ‘buy and sell’ groups on Facebook, and you can place ads on LinkedIn and Instagram.
How many times have you seen a product advert while trying to catch a quick update on your social media page?
This should tell you something. The whole social media thing was suited for business from day one and many businesses have taken advantage of this to sell their products.
Social selling has taken a dynamic twist in recent times. Influencers leverage their massive following to sell their products – ask Joro Olumofin how he makes his money via Instagram. How many times have you patronized a company simply because an influencer recommended them? These are examples of social selling at its finest.
Online Shopping in Nigeria: Still a Long Way to Go
It is interesting to know that Nigeria is not doing badly with regards to online shopping. However, there’s room for improvement in the Nigerian e-commerce industry.
Poor logistics, safety issues, low profit margin, substandard products, a high cost of shipping, low level of awareness, crazy return rates, doubt & trust issues, and a host of others are some of the top challenges facing the e-commerce business in Nigeria.
While it is true that the journey hasn’t been smooth all the way, we are indeed optimistic that as the industry expands and more people come on board, the challenges will be gradually resolved. Ultimately, this will pave way for an improved online shopping experience.