Social Media and E-commerce in Africa: Creating a Market for Online Shoppers and Vendors
The emergence of e-commerce in Africa has seen online shoppers take advantage of the convenience its offers. Today, vendors can deliver goods directly to the doorsteps of shoppers. On the other hand, shoppers have the flexibility of selecting payment channels, using debit cards, or paying on delivery.
As e-commerce continues to evolve and shape business operations, placing orders online comes with several challenges. These challenges can diminish customer trust and destroy the reputation of the business. The result of this is a drastic reduction in demand and sales.
Social Media for E-commerce
E-commerce in Africa is experiencing growth in different areas. One such growth is the transition from enormous e-commerce sites to the use of social media platforms. These platforms include Facebook, Twitter, and most especially Instagram. Online vendors make use of these platforms to promote, sell, and deliver products and services to online shoppers.
The advantages of utilizing social media for e-commerce are numerous. A few of them include:
- Social media platforms require no payment to utilize them.
- Building followership on social media is relatively easier compared to making a website rank well using digital marketing.
- Interaction between online vendors and shoppers is instant.
- No formal business registration is required to become an online vendor.
- Online vendors do not necessarily need to have the product until an order is made.
- No requirement for any form of maintenance for the platforms.
Another challenge affecting the use of social media for e-commerce in Africa is trust. Sometimes, online shoppers receive a totally different order or damaged products. They even receive products that look different from what they saw on the platform. This problem is more profound with items such as confectionaries, fashion, hair extensions, utensils, electronics, etc.
These challenges are causing many online shoppers to reconsider making purchases via social media. Customers enjoy a lot of exposure these days and now compare the prices of items across the board.
Reputation Management Techniques for Online Vendors
Reputation management by online vendors is very important as it can help to build a real business from scratch. To build reputation, online vendors must do the following:
Create a relationship with prospective shoppers
Online vendors can do this by engaging in visuals such as posting a video of the products or themselves. A lot of shoppers want to relate with a person they can see so such visuals help in this regard.
Stick to your terms of order and delivery
When you should deliver a product in three days, ensure that it doesn’t exceed that period. If there are changes in the delivery date, inform the online shopper as quickly as possible. Also, there should be no hidden charges when engaging in e-commerce using social media platforms.
Conducting Due Diligence Before Making Payment
To avoid losing their monies to fraudulent vendors, shoppers are to conduct due diligence on the vendors:
- Read through the comment section of the vendors from 3 months before that date. You would either find complaints or compliments from other shoppers that patronize the vendor.
- Begin patronage with an order that doesn’t cost much to understand the vendor’s mode of operation.
- Insist on paying through an online payment platform like Paystack or Flutterwave so that you can channel complaints easily.
E-commerce has come to stay and social media is one of the best platforms to engage in e-commerce in Africa today. Both the vendors and shoppers have their roles to play to ensure customer satisfaction and protection. In the end, it is about security for both the sellers and buyers. We have enumerated a few of these measures in this post. Please, you can share some of yours with us in the comments section. Meanwhile, check SME360 for other articles regarding running a business online.
Emmanuel Otori has over 9 years of experience working with 100 start-ups and SMEs across Nigeria. He has worked on the Growth and Employment (GEM) Project of the World Bank, Consulted for businesses at the Abuja Enterprise Agency, Novustack, Splitspot and NITDA.
He is the Chief Executive Officer at Abuja Data School.