In an earlier article, I debunked the myth that online shopping is risky, by arguing that shopping online is safer than shopping offline. Yet, you cannot make any offer that involves online shopping in Nigeria without having someone expressing fears about losing their money or simply not getting the product they ordered.
Tryout online shopping at Jumia
Why do Nigerians harp so much about the few risks they take when shopping online but totally ignore the many risks they take when shopping at local markets, shopping malls, or supermarkets? Why do Nigerians believe that face to face transactions can save them from fraud when there are no empirical data to support such believe?
More fraud is committed in this country via face to face transactions than online. I am sure you have heard stories of fraudsters who rent out the same flat to dozens of people, collecting millions of Naira in rent only to leave the helpless accommodation seekers to fight each other over who the rightful owner of the flat should be.
Such transaction occur face to face sometimes in the presence of lawyers, yet fraud occurs.
Haven taken a look at the shopping behaviour of Nigerians, I think I now know the real reason why Nigerians are apprehensive about shopping online, because it is definitely not about the risks. Before I share the reason I will like to lay some foundation.
The Double Standard
Everyday people lose money doing business at local markets, yet they return to the same market without batting an eyelid. A similar experience with an online store means all online stores are fraudulent and neither they nor anyone they know will ever shop online again.
Have you ever bought a phone (or any item) in a market only for you to return it to the seller because it developed a minor fault or didn’t just live up to the marketing and you simply can’t locate the seller? And sometimes when you do, your attention is drawn to the part of the receipt that says No refund of money after payment, while the seller tells you how it is not his fault since he is not inside the phone and hence cannot be held responsible for your misfortune.
Have this stopped you from going to the market to buy stuff? I bet not. You probably learnt from your mistake and soldiered on. So, has millions of Nigerians who have faced one form of misfortune or another while shopping offline. Be it entering a one-chance-bus, or getting conned by 419ers in a cab, or falling victim to pick-pockets, or being deceived by a trader into buying a fake product, we accepted the misfortune and continued shopping in the same local markets.
Yet, when such misfortune occurs online, it is often too much for us bear. We use it as an excuse never to shop online again and we tell the story each time anyone around us expresses interest in shopping online. Why do Nigerians hold online shopping to a higher standard? Why is it so easy for Nigerians to soldier on after an offline shopping misfortune but find it too hard to bear when it occurs online?
We Dont Shop Online because it is New to us
This has made me to conclude that the real reason why Nigerians do not shop online is not because of the risks, but because it has been wired into our consciousness that shopping offline is the only (or natural) way to shop. Visiting the market or supermarket to shop has always been the way we have shopped.
So, no matter the amount of risk we face while shopping at physical locations, we still go back because it is a necessity. It is either we shop offline or we die. We have accepted the risks as necessary to our survival. Shopping at a physical location is so hard-wired into our system that we now do it without thinking about the risks.
On the other hand, we complain so much about online shopping, because we are not used to it. We still see it as a luxury and we think we can do without it. So, although online shopping is safer than going to a physical location to shop our bias against it has not allowed it to thrive.
This is why players in the ecommerce industry should focus on making online shopping a culture rather than holding on to the old cliche believes on why Nigerians don’t shop online like poverty and poor infrastructure. Those reasons though valid do not carry weight anywhere near what can be achieved by making online shopping an acceptable way to shop for Nigerians. Once people get used to something, they ignore the risks and see it as part of their daily lives.
Think only the rich shop online? With as low as 100 Naira, you can buy airtime online at quickteller. You can also order food online at Jumia Food. If you are ready for general online shopping head to Jumia or Konga, they are Nigeria’s leading online retailers.