Lagos, the commercial hub of Nigeria. This is where everything commerce takes root. Lagos is home to one of the busiest seaports in the whole West Africa. With an estimated population size of about 21million people, this city with many suburbs,housing many residences and businesses, surely is a business nerve-centre. It is for this reason and more that the emergence of e-commerce and online shopping in Nigeria had to take off from this prominent city.
What exactly is online shopping? You don’t have to be a college genius to figure this one out too. It means to carry out purchase of goods and services over the internet. The negotiations are made over the internet, and the money may or may not be paid until the said item or service is delivered to your door step. There are a number of websites which deal strictly with shopping online, some are local, while some are international. Konga, Jumia, OLX, Kaymu, Efritin.com are quite popular when it comes to this trade. You find pictures of items after items being uploaded on different websites. Electronics, beauty products, cars, clothes, fashion accessories, the list is quite endless too.
When did it all begin? Now this is really the question you know. We cannot place an exact date on it; then again, an exact date isn’t nearly as relevant as an exact trend. The online shopping trend experienced a significant boost with a corresponding boost in the number of internet users in Lagos first, then Nigeria as a whole. Prior to that, it was quite skeletal. The number of internet users in Nigeria was a mere 200,000 in year 2000. This number more than double by year 2012 to 57 million internet users. This about coincided with the advent of a viable online shopping market. Also the proposed “cashless policy” by the Central Bank of Nigeria acted as a catalyst to set in motion what is probably one of the biggest commercial innovation of the last decade or so. Right now people all over Nigeria have the luxury of ordering for virtually any item on sale on the internet; and watching that item come to them irrespective of their location. We are talking about jewelries, cars, electronics, medical supplies, groceries etc.; surely this is a breakthrough revolution worth involving in.
Online shopping comes with so many advantages, some of which we would see in this article.
Undoubtedly, this is what many online shoppers crave the most. You avoid a number of inconveniencing hassles when you shop online. You get to avoid traffic, avoid the press of the crowd at shopping malls, you don’t get to deal with annoying sales attendants; just to mention but a few. There’s also the part where you don’t have to travel abroad or across the country to get quality items, you just look them over the internet, order, and they can come to you.
VARIETY: When they say “variety is the spice of life,” they probably never considering online shopping. Guess what though? There are fewer ways that illustrates this than online shopping. I mean you have so many options at your disposal all at once. You can shop for clothes, cars, electronics, houses, used items, all at the same time. You have the option of comparing prices from countless buyers all at the same time. There’s also the choice of comparing different brands and their features with what suits you. What about choosing whether to shop locally or internationally? Or should we talk about the various payment options at your disposal? It’s just a thrill all the way.
A RETAILERS DREAM: All this while you probably thought it was all about the consumer. Not so, the retail gets a great deal out of online shopping too.
- They don’t have to deal with the security risks related with cash transactions.
- They have a global market outreach to display their products to.
- They can avoid the extra cost associated with renting a shop and advertising its location, if they choose to.
Alright then! We’ve seen that online shopping is a joy to engage in, but what’s the catch here? What are the cons associated with shopping online? Not many hopefully.
INTERNET PROMINENCE: True, the number of internet users in Nigeria has experienced a remarkable boost, however, compared to countries like United States of America, and the United Kingdom, we still have a distance to cover. According to a survey, the internet accounts for a meager 0.8 percent of our overall GDP. Furthermore, the internet penetration percentage in Nigeria stands at 32, which is quite low compared to UK,87 and US, 81. This means that many Nigerians still prefer to shop offline.
INTERNET UNCERTAINTIES: Due to the lapses prevalent over the internet, which include financial fraud and service deficiencies, shopping online tends to harbor some amount of risk due to uncertainties. Customers with fraudulent identities could take advantage of security lapses available to defraud a seller. Online transaction requires that internet service be efficient. When network connections experience fluctuations, transactions fail. This can be really frustrating for both buyers and sellers alike.
ASSOCIATED RISKS: Of course there are associated risks involved. The item may turn out to be defective on arrival. There may be delays in arriving. The customer may damage the item and try to cover it up in order to get a refund, or the seller or buyer may turn out to be a fraud in the event of their meeting. These risks can be quite discouraging.
We cannot deny the myriad of advantages linked with online shopping; neither can we cover-up the risks. However, with a constantly changing globe tilting more and more towards globalization by means of the internet we must embrace the imminent extinction of offline shopping. Indeed, just like the “Transformers,” we are fast approaching the “age of extinction.”