Despite the challenges at its inception, many would agree that much progress has been made in the Nigerian e-commerce industry. The current reality is that there’s been major developments to what has been achieved over the past ten years. Current data suggests that more and more people are now onboarding the e-commerce train for their daily needs. The hardest sceptics are beginning to have a taste of what online shopping entails.
There is clear evidence of an upward shift in e-commerce momentum in the country. Currently, urban cities are becoming a beehive of e-commerce activities, with most small businesses now showcasing their wares online. Likewise, several logistics brands are springing up to meet the delivery demands of sellers and consumers. The sight of delivery vans and bikes are now common in major Nigerian cities such as Lagos, Rivers and Abuja. Also, one can begin to say the same for rural towns, which have recently seen an influx of e-commerce activities, especially through Jumia's JForce team, designated pickup stations and logistic partner services. With this, more items are now being delivered to remote areas in the country.
The trend is also reflected in the customer service experience on these platforms. Being the market leader, Jumia gets most customer traction; this is evident in testimonials from customers such as Blessing Zena, who resides in Benin, Edo State, "I've actually been shopping with Jumia for like six years. I shop on Jumia because I always get what I order. I bought a gown online on Jumia, and I wore it to church. People liked the gown and thought it was very fine. So they asked me to order the same gown for them, which I did. And when it came, they all liked their gowns," said Blessing.
More important is the improvement in service delivery by key industry role players. The early days of online shopping were fraught with complaints: Late delivery of orders, wrong items and payment glitches were prevalent at the time. Though these issues are still being experienced at intervals, it is fair to say that online platforms have put in the effort to reduce such occurrences.
And in cases where this happens, measures have been put in place for a speedy refund process. These efforts are also being appreciated by consumers. "When there's any mixup like if I order a shirt that is not my size, I can return it, and they will not reject it. They will do something about it. And if I pay and maybe what I ordered is out of stock, they always refund my money. I don't have to stress myself before I get my money," Blessing said.
E-commerce brands are also improving their own service delivery and consumer experience capabilities, this is evident with their pick-up stations. A consumer is able to walk in and pick their item with a station nearby. This initiative brings service closer to consumers and ultimately results in positive returns for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Though the e-commerce industry still has a lot to improve on, the work being put in by the major industry players such as Jumia gives hope of a good future for e-commerce services in Nigeria.