The emergence of ecommerce in Africa has seen online shoppers take advantage of the convenience it offers, as goods can now be delivered directly to their doorsteps while they also have the flexibility of selecting the payment channel either using their debit cards or payment upon delivery option.
However, as ecommerce continues to evolve and shape how business is done, there are numerous challenges that has been associated with making orders online, these challenges if unresolved over a long period of time, would make the trust the customer has to completely diminish as the reputation of the businesses would also be affected which would reduce the demands and sales.
Social Media for Ecommerce
A major growth that ecommerce is experiencing in Africa is the transition from building enormous ecommerce sites to the use of different social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and most especially Instagram to deliver products and services to online shoppers.
The advantages of utilizing social media for ecommerce is numerous
- Social media platforms require no payment to utilize them.
- Building followership on social media is relatively easier compared to making a website rank well using digital marketing.
- Interaction between online vendors and shoppers is instant.
- Online vendors do not necessarily need to have the product until an order is made.
- No requirement of any form of maintenance for the platforms used.
- No formal business registration is required to become an online vendor.
While the use of social media platforms for ecommerce has scaled ecommerce in Africa, a major challenge experienced by shoppers is trust.
Online shoppers order products and receive a totally different order, a damaged order or one that is totally different from what was displayed on the platform.
This has been seen with items such as confectionaries, fashion, hair extensions, utensils, electronics etc.
The inability of customers to get a refund or a replacement of the item ordered when it does not meet up with the specification is a big gap that is causing customers to reconsider when making a purchase on social media. Customers are well informed and are now beginning to compare prices of items in a physical retail store.
Reputation Management Techniques for Online Vendors
Reputation management by online vendors is very important as it can help to build a real business from scratch and not a side gig as is done by most vendors. To build reputation, it is important to do the following
- Create a relationship with prospective shoppers by engaging in visuals such as posting a video of the person engaged in business as an online vendor. A lot of shoppers want to relate with a person they see and the ability to have a visual can help in building reputation.
- Stick to your terms of order and delivery. A product that should be delivered within 3 days should not exceed the expected day of delivery, and if there are changes, the online shopper should be informed.
- There should be no hidden charges when engaging in ecommerce using social media platforms.
Conducting Due Diligence Before Making Payment
To avoid losing their monies to fraudulent vendors, shoppers are to conduct due diligence on the vendors
- Read through the comment section of the vendors from 3 months, you would either find complaints or compliments.
- Start with an order that does not cost much in order to understand the vendor’s mode of operation.
- Insist on paying through an online payment platform such as Paystack or Flutterwave in order to be able to channel complaints appropriately.
To ensure customers are protected, it is necessary to have a system that ensures goods are only paid for when the customer receives them and confirms they are in good condition. This way both the buyer and seller’s interest are protected.
About the Author
Emmanuel Otori has over 9 years of experience working with 100 start-ups and SMEs across Nigeria. He has worked on the Growth and Employment (GEM) Project of the World Bank, Consulted for businesses at the Abuja Enterprise Agency, Novustack, Splitspot and NITDA.
He is the Chief Executive Officer at Abuja Data School.