The Series: E-Commerce Emergence in Nigeria

I am a big fan of the handshake between technology and business, and the e-commerce scene in Nigeria has got me excited. While some argue that it is simply a transfer of the Nigerian ‘trade’ mentality and activity from offline to online, some say we are indeed experiencing an e-commerce emergence. I have run out of fingers and toes in counting how many e-commerce services are out there – the new and not-so-new, and everyday another seem to pop up.

Let’s take a step back. My definition of e-commerce, for now, varies from the online showroom to websites that actually allow you to buy and pay for products. The following make my list: Rocket’s Sabunta and Kasuwa, BuyLikeMagic, Huntella, 3AL, traclist, buynownow, purplerod, oohooroo, 1500naira, taafoo, pickclicknpay, StrictlyNaija, and Konga. That’s excluding those that sell airtime and sms services.

Having studied a number of them, I have noticed variations in ‘how they operate’. While some serve as just a pinboard (yes, giving product showcase a pinterest feel) for items, others serve as platforms for vendors to showcase and sell products (that is somewhat ebay-ish, without the bidding part), and then others are full blown e-commerce websites and cover everything from stocking to sales.

The Good, The Bad, and The Not So Cool

At the end of the day, family and friends will support all of these platforms, and those that have the money to spend will do bill boards, radio campaigns, brand BRTs, and other ‘offline’ ad campaigns to drive people to use the ‘online’ service, and it’ll work to an extent.

Some will deliver for free or a reasonable charge, while some will require you pick up what you order at the store or collection point. Some will give your warranty, and some will not. Some will even allow you bargain (after all, that’s part of the ‘trade’ mentalilty), and some will give you jaw-widening discounts.

Who Stands After Others Have Fallen?

In my opinion, only two groups of people will survive: (1) The guys with the big box of cash (2) The guys that have the social feature working for them. However, cash almost always run out. Yes, even if you have $1B in Ad budget, it’s going to burn and you may never get $1M back, but the social feature on the other hand is near-free and can make you $1B – you can ask Instagram (or iROKO Partners?)

I say this a lot, and even though I have not been proven wrong, I have not been proven right either. Perhaps because nobody has gone to prove it in this part of the world. What will make any of these e-commerce companies survive, 5-10 years, even the ones that have $1,000,000 in Ad budget, and those that have 1,520 fans on Facebook and 236 followers on Twitter is ‘social feature‘.  As to what the social feature is all about is for another day.

The e-Commerce Series

Join me as I profile and talk to the players (and non-players in business, tech and other related fields) in this supposed e-commerce emergence. Most will be in video format, so do subscribe to our YouTube and Vimeo channel, and look out for updates via @oTeKbitsVideo on twitter. Feel free to tip us of any other e-commerce site out there.

Lights, Camera, Action!



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