In the battle for Nigeria’s e-commerce, the latest weapon seems to be the eponymous packaged webshop. Like I suggested a year ago, the real GNBO would be helping Nigeria’s small businesses sell their goods online. The ecosystem seems to have risen to the challenge.
If you throw a rock today, you’re going to hit someone or something that’s working on a “platform that will help small businesses sell their goods”. Shoppi.ng, Shopistry, 500Shops, Traclist and Konga Mall just to mention a few. Even Mastercard wants in on the action.
Unfortunately, many of these are focusing on sorting out e-shops and payments but ignoring the biggest issue in e-commerce - logistics. The assumption seems to be that they’ll outsource logistics to some other player and charge customers for delivery to cover those costs.
I can’t even explain how wooly-headed this concept is. Logistics is the heart and soul of e-commerce and Nigeria doesn’t have the requisite infrastructure to make outsourcing a sensible proposition. I suspect that the costs associated with outsourcing logistics will eventually sink players facing vertically-integrated e-commerce players.
Furthermore, small businesses don’t avoid e-commerce simply because they can’t make websites or the costs of integrating payments. Those problems have been solved some time ago. They avoid e-commerce because delivering goods across Lagos (let’s not even talk of across the country) can be a pain in the bum (Ask anyone who’s ever tried to receive goods that they bought from a small online shop). Furthermore, I’m not sure there’s any courier company who will handle cash on delivery on your behalf; and COD is a major driver of e-commerce in Nigeria.
In the end, if you’re going to help small businesses do e-commerce, you have to help them do ALL of e-commerce; not just the parts that are comfortable for you.
So allow me to make another prediction in the vein of our Lord’s at the last supper.
The e-commerce player that integrates logistics into their offering will win this battle.
And the people said “amen”.