The world is going through a phase of the technology revolution which is eroding every field of human endeavor. In the light of this, there has been an increased effort by groups, individuals and government at all levels to ensure that Nigerians optimise their potential and maximise the opportunity provided by digital technology for the growth of the country’s digital economy.
One major driver of the digital economy is e-commerce. Many business ideas have been actualized and are thriving digitally since the online shopping revolution started in Nigeria some years ago. Below are some of the ways e-commerce platforms are improving the fortunes of Nigerian SMEs, including the informal retail market:
Cost-effectiveness: for an informal retailer, the cost of transportation to and from the market eats into their profit. This gap is now being filled by platforms like Alerzo who enable customers to save more by connecting them directly with manufacturers and going as far as offering free delivery.
Wider reach: One major benefit of e-commerce to business is the elimination of borders and boundaries. With online retail platforms, thousands of SMEs reach millions of customers on a daily basis.
Direct connection to manufacturers: With help of the likes of Alerzo Limited and TradeDepot, informal retailers are stocking their shops directly from manufacturers thus escaping price inflation in the physical market.
Increases in profit: While an informal seller saves more by avoiding frequent market trips, a seller on B2C platforms is also able to increase profit by avoiding bogus rents in major cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja. Getting such expenses off the books is a huge profit boost for micro-businesses.
Capacity building: Some e-commerce platforms like Alerzo also provide sellers with training and advisory that help them improve their digital skills and open them to more opportunities to grow their businesses.
Breaking gender barriers: The gender barriers associated with business transactions are also eliminated with e-commerce. For instance, a man might be skeptical of buying electronic products from a lady selling in a physical store. But with e-commerce, what matters is product quality and service delivery, as the gender of the seller is concealed from the buyer.
Mental health: In this age of mental health awareness, B2B e-commerce is saving a lot of informal retailers the mental and physical stress of stocking at the open markets.
Effective time management: Selling online frees up more time for sellers to engage in other productive ventures. Also, the majority of sellers are women who manage the family along with their business. Embracing e-commerce gives them more family time, while informal retailers also have more time for their customer relations.