Online Shopping: When will we have Worthy Stores in Nigeria
Online Stores in Nigeria are not there yet. They are yet to measure up with their counterparts in other parts of the world. Having shopped in foreign online stores, most notably Amazon and Newark, and having seen the level of service they offer in their home countries I have always wished we have stores like that in Nigeria.
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Of course, there are promising online stores emerging in the Nigerian landscape (notably Jumia), especially in the past few months, but I would not confidently say that they are there yet. In this article, I will reveal where I find Nigerian online stores wanting. I also believe these shortcomings are partly responsible for why online shopping have failed to become mainstream in Nigeria.
No Free ShippingFree shipping is common with foreign online stores. Once you buy items worth a certain threshold (around $25 for leading online stores in the United States), you get free standard shipping to any location within the country the online store operates from.
In Nigeria, free shipping is very rare and where available the minimum threshold for securing one is usually too high. Price is a key buying consideration for consumers in Nigeria, an additional cost for shipping a product is likely to be a put off for some.
I understand that the lack of infrastructure and a nearly comatose logistics sector is partly responsible for this, but the store to figure out how to deliver free shipping at a buy threshold of N5,000 or less will be a truly worthy online store.
Expensive ProductsOnline shopping is popular abroad because of the competitive prices consumers get from online stores. In Nigeria, prices at online stores are usually higher, sometimes by up to 5% to 20% compared to their brick and mortar competitors. Some online stores in Nigeria do not even have warehouse or stock. They simply take orders online, and then buy from brick and mortar stores to fulfil the orders, resulting in higher product costs.
For online stores to be favourite shopping destinations for Nigerians they must offer more compelling prices or at least match prices at brick and mortar stores.
A Slim Product LineNigerian Online Stores offer a limited number of products. If consumers cannot find what they want online they will get it elsewhere. Some stores tend to focus on high value products targeted at the minority rich and the virtually inexistent middle class, ignoring the wealth at the bottom of the pyramid.
For online shopping to become mainstream in Nigeria, online stores must offer assorted products. They must also not focus on the rich and the middle class as that in a country where such income groups are a minority may be suicidal for the online shopping industry. It will be damaging for the industry if consumers to see shopping online as something for the affluent.
Abroad, online stores offer an extensive product line, even specialist stores try to offer every product within their specialist areas. For example, PCConnection is an online store for everything PC, Newark tries to keep up with every electronic or electrical component you may ever think of. Amazon, though a general online store has not forgotten her bookstore heritage and has the most extensive book collection in the world. I will wish Nigerian online stores to be like that.
No Warranty & Unclear Return PolicyA lot of Nigerian Online stores have no relationship with manufacturers or major suppliers of the goods and products they are selling, making it hard for them to offer valid warranty on the products they are selling. This results in no warranty statements on products and missing or unclear return policy.
Consumers need to know what to do when they are shipped a defective product. What is the return policy and who bears the cost? All over the world the most dreaded online shopping occurrence is receiving a defective product or receiving the wrong product. Online shopping may be easy, fast, and convenient but if you have ever had to return a product, you will see the other side of online shopping.
In a country where trust is a big issue, offering valid warranties will go a long in bridging the trust gap.
There you have it, areas I will want Nigerian online stores to improve on. If you have an online store in Nigeria and you are not found wanting in any of these areas and you also offer a good shopping experience, thumbs up you are indeed a worthy online store. If you know online stores in Nigeria that are not deficient in all the key areas mentioned above, please let me know through a comment. Thanks.
In the next article in the series (coming tomorrow), we will look at challenges facing online stores in Nigeria. It is a must read for current or intending investors in the online shopping industry in Nigeria. See, you soon.
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