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Why eCommerce Remains Largely Traditional in Nigeria

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Despite the growing appeal of e-commerce, available data shows that the shopping behavior of majority of Nigerians is still largely traditional – with many preferring to see, touch or experience the product in action before making the buying decision.

In this piece, Yudala – Nigeria’s leading online and offline retail chain – dissects the e-commerce revolution and why most Nigerians remain slow in changing their traditional shopping habits.

E-commerce has become a thriving global industry. A recent report released by the Oxford Business Group revealed that retail sales hit a whopping $22b figure globally in 2016, with online shopping figures accounting for a major part of this outlay.

In advanced climes where access to the internet and of course, literacy levels stand at appreciable levels, e-commerce has become a lifestyle for many.

Interestingly, global retail sales, of which e-commerce makes up a major part, is projected to rise further to an estimated 27 trillion dollars by 2020.

Nigeria has also been bitten by the e-commerce bug. This has been made possible by the proliferation of online stores all competing for the attention of shoppers, many of whom are eager to jump on the ease and convenience of the e-commerce train.

Nevertheless, e-commerce is still at the rudimentary stage in Nigeria as the pace of adoption and acceptance is decidedly slow.

Despite the huge strides recorded in the Nigerian e-commerce landscape – especially with the massive awareness for globally celebrated shopping festivals such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, among others – the average Nigerian is still an unrepentant traditional shopper.

In spite of the massive hype and growing status of e-commerce in Nigeria, you are better off convincing the average Nigerian to make the final buying decision when you can provide him or her with an opportunity to ‘experience’ the product before parting with hard-earned money.

This often involves visiting a physical or brick-and-mortar store location to interact with sales attendants and getting a chance to see a demonstration of the item before the sale is closed.

This traditional shopping behaviour goes a long way to justify the unique Yudala model of combining an online store with physical offline stores located nationwide. Cases abound of most walk-in customers actually admitting to having checked out a particular product online but still preferred to physically visit the store to see the product before purchase.

A few factors are responsible for this largely traditional approach to the e-commerce revolution in Nigeria:

Trust remains a major issue: Many Nigerians live in constant dread of online fraud and will do anything to avoid using their debit card to process payments electronically.

According to data from the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) the year 2014 saw 1,461 reported cases of electronic or e-fraud, with actual losses grossing N6.216 billion.

In 2015, about 946 attempted e-fraud cases were also recorded by banks, Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) and Mobile Payment Operators (MPOs), resulting in an estimated loss of N5 billion.

Recently, the Hon. Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu indicated that about N78 billion is lost yearly in Nigeria to all forms of cybercriminal activities. This reality has stunted the growth of e-commerce in Nigeria.

Internet access is elusive for many: It is an open secret that e-commerce is driven by access to the internet. However, internet access for many in this part of the world is an expensive venture. Worse still, the number of internet users seems to be declining.

Going by the most recent statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the number of internet subscribers in Nigeria’s telecommunications networks declined to 91, 274,446 in January 2017.

According to the figures released, internet users dropped to 91,274,446 in January as against 91,880.032 users recorded in December 2016, showing a decline of 605,586.

This is one of the major reasons why the average shopper remains seemingly stuck in his largely traditional shopping ways.

Unsavoury experiences from delivered orders: The e-commerce experience in Nigeria has been stalled by the action of some online retailers who end up disappointing the customer with the delivery of items different or inferior in quality from the one seen or ordered online.

In such a case, the customer has to bear the inconvenience of having to either navigate the thorny process of seeking a refund or waiting an extra lengthy number of days to get the right item. This is why ensuring that “What you see is what you get” remains a unique selling point in the e-commerce market.

Millions remain underserved or unreached in the hinterlands: A recent report revealed that the Nigerian e-commerce industry recorded a handsome $1.9b figure in 2016 and the figure is expected to reach an estimated $3.9b in 2020.

However, e-commerce in Nigeria remains a predominantly urban phenomenon. For many in the hinterlands and rural communities hobbled by the absence of the most basic infrastructure, e-commerce will remain an abstract concept for a long time. To reach these ones, citing a physical store not too far from their location remains the best bet.

Seeing and touching sells quicker than just seeing: Ever wondered why many shoppers with access to the internet still end up carrying out most of their e-commerce purchases in physical stores?

For many Nigerians, seeing and being able to touch the item beats just being able to see it on the screen of a mobile phone or laptop. Majority still want to see, touch, feel and/or experience a product before they part with their money.

Nothing can replace the plain old physical contact: Commerce in Nigeria originated from a traditional stand-point. Nothing feels better than haggling with a seller face-to-face and eventually securing a bargain.

The glint in the eyes of the buyer and renewed spring in the steps are a sight to behold. For now, at least, e-commerce will struggle to completely wipe away this culturally-ingrained shopping behaviour.

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E-Business

FG Moves to Expand Digital Governance Platform

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Mr. Adebayo Shittu, minister of Communications

Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications, has said that efforts are on to expand the number of Data Centres in the country as part of government’s plan to expand its presence on a digital platform, 1-gov.net.

 The platform, apart from consolidating existing government ICT infrastructure, it also enables MDAs to exchange data in a seamless manner while allowing each other to remain independent and maintain its privacy and the security of its operatives.

Victor Oluwadamilare, Special Assistant to the Minister on Media in a press statement said Barr. Shittu stated this in a keynote address titled Empowering Digital Governments to share latest innovative technology trends and government solutions with emphasis on Microsoft’s Technology platform to improve the capabilities of government within Nigeria”.

Which he delivered at the 2017 Microsoft Digital Government Conference held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

The minister said through the 1-gov.net, government has become more participative and accessible where citizens can participate in policy process through discussions, suggestions and online-polls.

“Various Government Departments are using this platform for seeking inputs on a wide range of issues. Using the 1-gov.net Platform, Government has been able to save 30% of what it would have expended on a unit per unit cost. As at date 90% of all MDAs within Abuja are linked with fiber backbone and 3,500 locations of different MDAs have been touched across the country. About 270 MDAs websites and applications are being hosted on the network, adding that “Government has recorded success in 1-gov.net, we now focus on some services that have direct bearing on the present administration’s priorities, and we determined to continue with the shared ICT infrastructure and services initiative in the MDAs. The 1-gov.net is promoting Whole-of-Government approaches in the information Age based on shared services. This approach will enhance productivity of government officials, increase experience of patrons of government services, enhance security and drive out the menace of corruption.

He said the government recognizes the urgent need to increase efficiency and transparency, improve and align processes, smart government and smart cities, attract new investors, bridge the digital divide, transform government transaction services, data-driven government, better access to and management of information, thereby enhancing citizen satisfaction and trust, meeting the needs of rapidly changing demographics and balancing costs while optimizing efficiency.

According to him, digital government is a vision statement that seeks to bring about citizen empowerment by harnessing the potentials of ICTs as well as seeking to transform government into digitally empowered society and knowledge economy in a manner that government is available on the palm of every citizen, where – The Government is open and the Governance Transparent.

Digital Government, he said, does not comprise the digital architecture alone, but it encompasses digital delivery of citizen-centric services, and ultimately, digital empowerment of the people.

He said, “Internet users in Nigeria have crossed 90 million. The mobile users have also crossed 156million mark. The smart phone users are more than 60 million. Today, from booking of train tickets to payment of fees and taxes, from post office and banking transactions to issue of digital documents, online registrations to online applications and e-services, Digital Revolution is seen everywhere and touches almost every aspect of life of a common citizen.

Barr. Shittu disclosed that government invests in shared ICT Infrastructure to secure the benefits of lower cost, increased security, increased innovation and faster service delivery, adding that government is supporting the development and sustenance of ICT applications that are driving cost effectiveness and transparency in Government Service Delivery. He added that applications supporting the Treasury Single Accounts (TSA), IPPIS, Budget Portal and BVN verifications among others are already resulting in huge savings.

The Ministry of Communications, he said, has expanded the Open Government Data Portal which is a part of the Federal Government Open Data Initiative, stressing that many civil servants have been trained across MDAs on the use of the portal.

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5 Interesting Ways To Create Website For Free

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There is in fact such a thing as a free website builder (i.e. tools that help create websites), and thankfully it has over time become easier to use these free website builders to create personal or professional websites.

These free website builders are great tools that start-ups and other small businesses can take advantage of to create decent websites for their businesses. Jumia Travel, the leading online travel agency, shares 5 interesting ways to create a website for free.

Weebly
With this tool, you can build a website in at least 15 minutes. Weebly is a do-it-yourself free website builder with a reasonable variety of attractive and decent website designs to explore.
However, it’s designs are quite simple and streamlined, but that’s fine if you intend to build a website to use for such simple and streamlined activities, as opposed to robust e-commerce work.

Freewebs.com
This offers a free version and a pro version, but with the free version you can still set up a decent and great looking website.
The free version doesn’t offer a wide variety of features like the pro version, but it provides you with the basics for building a decent website.

Wix
This is a website builder that provides you with practically all you need to create a fully personalized and high quality website for free. It also provides a platform to create a decent professional web presence. Wix is one of the best and most popular website builders that’s user friendly and has a wide variety of professional looking website templates and template categories.
The best part about this website builder is that it offers an SEO guide to help increase your website’s online visibility.

Website Builder
This is another user friendly, free website builder. It’s unique for its provision of smart options for both established businesses and startups to build mobile-friendly websites.
It has a wide selection of template combinations, analytics tools, social media integration features and one-click launch processes that makes it one of the best website builder options for both professionals and amateurs. As a plus, it also offers e-commerce solutions, SEO improvement tools and CRM features.
It’s starter plan is free but you would have pay to access its other packages that offer free ad credits, hosting and domain services.

SiteBuilder
This website builder is a great platform that people, especially entrepreneurs, can take advantage of to build websites and stores for their businesses in just a matter of minutes.
SiteBuilder is such a great website builder because its free package comprises free web hosting and domain registration.
It has a user-friendly canvas editor with a wide variety of templates and customizable layouts and attractive images.
It also has SEO tools, e-commerce functions and smart CRM solutions that can assist you in creating mobile friendly websites and help enhances the visibility of your site. SiteBuilder also allows users create blogs, stores, portfolios and custom-made forms.

 

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Why Internet of Things Is Not Just A Tech Project

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The Internet of Things is here to stay as a range of connected devices become mainstream in our work and business lives, says Keith Fenner, Vice-President Sage Enterprise Africa & Middle East.

Writing on the subject, Fenner quoted forecasts from Gartner, which show, this year will end with around 8.4 billion connected things in use worldwide, a number that will grow to around 20.4 billion by 2020.

“Yet the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) remains misunderstood”, Fenner opined.

He went ahead to emphasis that the technology industry is on a drive to connect everything from electric toothbrushes to heavy factory machinery to the Internet.

Fenner writes “Many senior executives are thinking about it as a new technology or platform rather than what it really is – a way to completely change businesses and its processes.

“Taking full advantage of the IoT takes some radical thinking and a willingness to break from business as usual. As MIT researcher, George Westerman, puts it: “Successful digital transformation is like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly…many senior execs aren’t thinking about butterflies. They’re just thinking about faster caterpillars.”

“Many IoT projects fall short of the mark in helping companies to drastically improve their business processes. As was the case with mobile – success in the Internet of Things will come from understanding how it will reshape consumer and employee behaviour and how it can be used to transform businesses’ operations and operating models

More Than Just A Tech Project
“The hard part is not transforming processes through technology, but transforming the organisation and its culture. The future will belong to the organisations who are better at embedding the technology in business processes to drive radical improvements, and who do this not just once, but over and over again.

“The IoT isn’t a simple technology project – ‘implementing the Internet of Things’ isn’t a viable or interesting goal in itself.  The IoT is a value creation tool, a way to transform the customer experience and reinvent business processes for the digital age. To make the most of its potential, the business’s senior leadership should drive the IoT strategy and consider how it can enable new business models, underpin innovation and bring massive improvements to efficiency and productivity.

“The greatest digital opportunities across Africa reside in customer experience, business operations and business modelling. Business leaders should look at how connected sensors and devices, and the reams of data they produce, can be put to use to lift competitiveness by reinventing business processes.

“The IoT is a complex interconnected network of related parts that sense context, transfer data, process information and initiate action. Data streams originating from all sorts of sensors built into a wide variety of “things” (e.g., machines, cars, mobile and immobile goods, clothes, or even human beings) enable companies to create all sorts of innovative processes, services and products”.

The Real Magic Comes From Using Machine Learning To Put That Data To Work

He continues, “Smart algorithms and AI can be applied to data collected at scale to find patterns, trends and indicators the human eye might miss. A few of the possibilities include: 

“Using predictive maintenance for technical infrastructure in cities, factories, plants and others to improve reliability of machinery while reducing maintenance costs”.

He added that leveraging traffic data from many different sources including smart city data from traffic lights, streets, or other vehicles to optimise the management of corporate and government vehicle fleets. “In fact, Uber already uses smart data to match drivers to passengers and find the smartest routes for its riders.

“Creating innovative consumer offerings, such as Amazon-style dash buttons to supply customers automatically and predictively with goods and services.

“Providing medical care services, for example using wearables and even (in future) ingestible sensors, to monitor elderly people living alone at home.

 Changing The Way Industries Work
“Looking to the future, the IoT promises to change the way industries work as much as the invention of the assembly line, just-in-time manufacturing or the creation of the Internet itself.

“Picture a world where a customer places an order for a running shoe on an e-commerce site, uploading video footage of the manner in which he walks and a scan of his foot.

“From there, a tailored running shoe is manufactured at a nearby facility using a 3D printer – with components shipped from other facilities as needed – and delivered to the customer’s home in the evening. From sales to logistics to manufacturing, a network of sensors works towards getting a personalised product in the customer’s hands with as little friction and as much speed as possible.

“In the background, big data analytics and advanced artificial intelligence will be used to make sense of the flood of data from the IoT. This could be all about some business gains, such as reducing stock held in warehouses to free up working capital or vastly reducing the costs of managing complex machinery.

“It will also enable various ‘as a service’ business models, where everything from car insurance to shoes can be customised to customer needs. The leaders in digital transformation will master the ability to build, deliver and repeat innovations based on the IoT better than their competitors. But to get it right, they will need business leaders who understand the role the IoT can play from a business outcome perspective”, he concludes.

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