Vero (not her real name) is an upwardly mobile lady who enjoys shopping for the latest clothing materials and other beauty items. Vero’s busy work schedule during the week and her professional classes on the weekend means she doesn’t have the luxury of time for her shopping duties. Interestingly, Vero can now heave a sigh of relief as she does not have to worry about her physical shopping duties all these can be catered for online through her Instagram page where she follows sellers of various products.
The exponential growth in the penetration of smartphones has helped to boost e-commerce in the country. With social media platforms playing a very crucial role, e-commerce has made shopping more convenient for Nigeria’s huge population majority of whom are between the ages of 18-21 years.
According to the Nigeria mobile report 2019 by e-commerce platform, Jumia, 44percent of mobile subscribers in Nigeria are using 3G technology and 4percent are using 4G technology, with a projection that Nigeria’s mobile broadband penetration would rise to 55percent of the population by 2025, with 70percent having 3G connectivity.
Social media platforms such as Instagram has significantly bridged the gap between buyers and sellers by creating a new value chain by which products move from the buyer to the seller with ease and in the process creating a market that transcends across geographical boundaries, time and distance.
The choice of instagram among other platforms is not far-fetched; it allows sellers to display pictures of their products for their customers (with specified description) and in essence allows the buyers to “inspect” (to some extent) the products they intend to purchase before making orders.
Sellers have also double down on their expand their brand awareness and increase sales by partnering with Instagram influencers to reach an audience that‘s specifically targeted to your products and services.
Chisom, 21, an undergraduate in one of the tertiary institution in Lagos is one of the popular sellers of hair attachments online and according to her trust and fast delivery of products to buyers has helped her gained more customers.
The paradigm shift to online purchase through social media platforms also comes with its own shortcomings.
Products displayed online are ascertainable in the sense that the buyer can see what they are interested in purchasing. The buyer, however, has the misfortune of not being able to physically inspect the products due to the virtual nature of the products. This precludes the buyer from discovering defects that would have otherwise been detected by physical examination. Most times, products displayed by vendors are different from products delivered to the buyer and in most cases a ‘No Refund’ clause has been entered into.
Vendors on Instagram often state that there would be no refunds where products sold are delivered in good condition; the vast majority use the phrase loosely without necessarily stating the conditions that will warrant a “no refund” situation.
According to Chisom the business is still very young hence some teething problems.
“For me, logistics remains the major problem, getting a reliable bike man to deliver within my budget and time is a major issue,”
Chisom believes vendors who sell and deliver substandard products would not last lomg in the business.
“Most of my customers today are refereed to me by my customers who are happy with my products and service delivery,” she said.