Aside from the various trends discussed in my last piece, there are many others which have happened since the arrival if COVID-19 and its constraints.
They most important lesson to note as industry players, and those hoping to get in, is that e-commerce is a demand-led industry wherein customers push service providers to keep changing models so as to better serve them.
As we noted last time, the online shopping basket here in Ghana is growing bigger. Every day, you have new categories being introduced online to cater for demand from particular customers.
One advantage that the COVID-19 situation has brought to the e-commerce industry is the spotlight it has shone on our activities. It has projected the essence of what we do. In fact, the lockdown highlighted the benefits customers can get from buying online instead of spending a lot time going to market centres.
Today, even the older generations within our societies have embraced online buying. For the younger folks, it is the way shopping should be done in this age. What an opportunity this gives to existing and potential e-commerce companies.
Entering the online retail space has also become easier. The COVID-19 situation gave opportunities for traditional business owners to create some sort of online store-front to cater for necessities of the time. A simple WhatsApp status post is enough today to get online with your business. I know a caterer who is getting orders for cakes via Whatsapp status updates.
So, can a waakye seller on a street near you also integrate some online activity into her business? She can simply get a Facebook account or page and post image of her stand and exhibit her contact on the page. People in offices can call and make orders to have their meals delivered. She can decide to receive payment before or after delivery.
The Ghana Facebook space has seen various new entrants posting and boosting posts to get customers. As an industry player, some posts do not meet the basic standards for successful ad execution, but they are running and attracting healthy comments which can be good leads for conversion.
Ask online marketing experts and they will criticise the various adverts currently running online. The inability to meet high standards should not deter anyone from boosting posts online. We all learned how to ‘boost right’ with time.
This also brings great consultancy opportunities for social media marketing experts and enthusiasts, who can help many traditional business owners to do it right online.
Another phenomenon that happened was the increased demand for delivery services. During the lockdown, especially, ‘okada’ riders were hired by traditional business owners to do deliveries. These men became deliverymen overnight, as business owners tried to fulfil orders during the lockdown
They indeed helped many small food-joint operators to meet the high demand for home delivery of meals. If we can nurture the new customers online and sustain the online integrations we have made during this time, we will leapfrog many e-commerce transformational phases.
As mentioned above, there is an increase in the number of online activities and transactions since COVID-19. More people are moving online; and as is typical of every community, the growing Ghanaian online community will begin to attract fraudsters – acting as both sellers and buyers.
Some serious regulatory actions are now needed to sanitise the ecosystem and sustain the new consumer confidence in the sector. If this is not done, we are likely to face same challenges as we have with mobile money; and this can discourage participation in the e-commerce space.
The time is ripe for everyone who wants to win to bring his/her business partly or fully online to also enjoy the dividends of the current phenomenon.