E-commerce trends in Africa

March 17, 2015

In 2015, e-commerce trend growth will continue to grow in African markets.Businesses that are allergic to adopting technology and are lagging behind on usability front will be increasingly exposed. The infant, high-growth e-commerce market is turning out to be exciting and according to latest market reports, part of the e-commerce and opportunities will abound.However, for outside entrants to African markets they shouldn’t expect copy-paste approach to be sufficient as localization is critical and is the way to go.Importance of mobile internet in high growth markets like Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, cannot be overstated. As African masses come online, desktop interface is now a mere niche and handheld tablet and mobile UIs will continue to dominate African markets. For e-commerce service providers, efficient mobile page design must be the overriding priority.In my observation,e-commerce businesses need to balance low page weights and fast load times against the need to deliver rich and relevant content to information-hungry users on the move.M-commerce has been growing strongly thanks mainly to the rapid increase in smartphone and mobile Internet users in African regions like East Africa.

Mobile chat and social media is also helping e-commerce merchants boost sales via online chat applications.More online stores targeting specific groups are popping up as merchants while physical shops are now realizing they can save costs and target key customers directly online.Main challenges for e-commerce in African markets include but not limited to unreliable delivery and fulfillment.Since digital products such as software, applications, e-books and other online services are easy to sell online, more African e-commerce businesses will be creating digital products and content specifically for local users. Local e-commerce markets are becoming more competitive.Since several international vendors have joined the African scene, local online vendors will have to up their game and provide better service. More and more people are choosing to make online and mobile payments thanks to better security as well as the ease and speed of completing transactions on the Net.

Consumers have a bigger choice of products at competitive prices and as e-commerce grows in Africa, buyers find it easier to find the perfect deal. Advance online marketing are helping merchants understand their consumers, identify the right tools to approach their target audience and save on their marketing budget while boosting sales. In Kenya and Nigeria, the Conversion Rate has been the single most important thing that merchants have been paying attention to because it shows the rate at which site visitors become buyers and same is being adopted elsewhere.For instance, if an online shop can have 20,000 visitors per day,it mean little if nobody is buying any product. Hence, the Conversion Rate number is an important tool for merchants to keep track of what’s happening.Managing the growth of an online business can be difficult, especially if sales rise quickly. If a merchant is dealing with 200-500 orders per day, managing the product, making deliveries and communicating with customers can be very taxing.For instance, in South Africa, a market where I’ve invested through several start ups, the re-targeting strategy has been focusing on approaching customers via every channel to persuade them to buy, while targeted marketing aims at specific customers for specific products.

Contador Harrison