Trading through online platforms and the social media networks is helping retailers have a wider reach to their prospective customers, both at home and abroad. This is because the barrier of distance can be successfully broken, making it possible to strike business deals, trade and shop with anyone.
Besides, online platforms help to create mutual relationship between sellers and buyers, which gives both parties a first-hand communication where feedbacks from customers are guaranteed. For retailers, who transact business online, the feedbacks help to improve their services and maintain cordial relationship with their customers.
Retailers, who do business online are at an advantage as they become easily accessible to all classes of people because of their activeness in the virtual society.
Moving with the trend of trading online, convenience and time saving factor has made it possible for buyers to order their desired goods in the comfort of their homes.
Raphael Afaedor, co-founder/ Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Supermart.ng, a grocery online store, saw the need to solve many everyday problems of households in Nigeria, especially Lagos, hence, he started Supermart.ng.
“I have observed the stress people go through in order to shop for groceries,” he said.
He continued: “Most times people move from one shop to another or visit the local market to buy local ingredients. This is due to the unstructured nature of the traditional retail and wholesale system.”
Afaedor, who was a co-founder and managing director of Jumia.com.ng, from March 2012 to January 2014, partnered leading supermarkets and local markets and has developed the largest one-stop online market for customers to shop from over 60,000 items and have it delivered to them within three hours across Lagos.
According to him, the initial response from people was not encouraging as most were reluctant, but later came to trust the system. From what it used to be when it started a few years ago, Afam Ayika, former Marketing Manager, Jumia Nigeria. said there has been significant progress.
“For instance earlier in 2012 e-commerce sites were recording 2,000 orders per day. Between 2012 and now some of us have had an exponential growth to the tune of 100,000 orders per day and record over 50 per cent growth month-on-month. The major thing is to put in place a structure that customers can trust. For instance, Supermart.ng has put a system in place that customers can trust to deliver their groceries to them as early as three hours without any hitch,” he said.
Speaking of challenges, the traditional wholesale and retail system is not organised. This is visible in the fact that it is quite hard for someone to get everything he or she wants in just one supermarket. Therefore, what these online stores have done is to partner leading supermarkets and local markets.
According to operators, it ensures that customers can buy their groceries and everyday essentials (local and imported products) at one address online and have them delivered to their homes and offices in a short time. And with just a click a person can access everything he needs from the comfort of his home without having to move from one market to another.
Another challenge, according to them, was logistics, especially in Lagos, where there is the fear of the unpredictable traffic situation.
The traffic situation is a challenge both to the customers and to the e-commerce companies. For the customers, it is a discouraging factor from going to the stores. For the e-commerce companies, it accounts for their delay in delivery.
Traditionally, it takes two to 10 days for orders to be delivered to customer’s doorstep. However, this approach cannot be used for groceries, considering that most of the orders are needed the same day. In view of that, what some operators have done was to embark on adequate city research to understand the flow of traffic so that they are able to deliver groceries in the shortest possible time against all odds. During the last fuel scarcity when telecoms companies and banks were shutting down, online stores still delivered and did not fail in their delivery promise.
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