• Monday, June 24, 2024
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E-commerce firms leverage extensive postal network to improve fortunes

Building trust critical to Nigeria’s e-commerce sector – expert

Electronic commerce (e-commerce) operators in Nigeria are taking massive advantage of the retail extensive network of the country’s postal and courier industry to enhance service delivery, market observers have said. Considering the rising number of orders being processed by online retailers in Nigeria, there is need along with the attendant need for efficiency in delivery. Konga.com, Nigeria’s largest online mall, said, during its version of ‘Black Friday’ sales last year, it processed N50 million worth of orders every hour. In view of this, the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST), weekend, launched its partnership with Konga.com, with the opening of a collection centre at the University of Lagos Post Office.

The collection centre is the first in a series of partnerships by the two parties to address logistics and delivery issues experienced by eCommerce operators.

Some of these challenges include a shortage of secure and conveniently located places where customers can pick-up their purchases, and also return items that do not meet up to their expectations. The  inefficiency of the nation’s postal system has been  identified as major drawback to the success of e-retailers. Speaking on the launch of the partnership between NIPOST and Konga, Omobola Johnson, minister of communications technology, reiterated government’s commitment to transforming NIPOST into a viable, socially conscious yet profit-orientated organisation. She said, “the first Post office in Nigeria was established over 160 years ago and NIPOST has been fulfilling its mandate of providing universal access to postal services ever since. The Post office has grown to become the most extensive retail network in Nigeria.

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“It is only logical that the eCommerce industry leverage the experience and facilities of NIPOST to provide secure and more convenient services to their customers.” According to her, through this partnership, NIPOST will be contributing its own share to supporting the growth of retail businesses in Nigeria. Security and convenience are particularly important for customers living in shared accommodation such as hostels in tertiary institutions. Such customers need to know that the items they have purchased are safe and waiting to be collected at a place that is easy to reach. For eCommerce firms delivering items to people living in these institutions can be time consuming and expensive, such clients are often moving between different locations within the campus and several attempts at delivery are usually required.

The partnership to establish collection centres in tertiary locations is therefore a welcome development for both customers and electronic retailers; and will result in the roll-out of a total of forty seven (47) collection centres nationwide over a period of two months. With an estimated growth rate of 25 percent yearly, the e-commerce sector, which when examined in 2012 was worth $35 million, is currently valued at $550 million and projected to have a $10 billion potential if well harnessed, according to the ministry of communications technology. With the population of internet users growing rapidly, reaching 48 million, says the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA),  online transactions in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, are expected to reach N1 trillion by the end of 2014.

Ben Uzor