Technology has literally changed every aspect of the way people live, conduct business and never before in history has change happened so fast. At the push of a button, one can sell, buy, handle a business from a remote location once a smart device is connected to the internet.
Marketers have had to step up their traditional marketing strategies and device ways of retaining their customers while gaining more with the use of the internet through online and social media sites.
Throughout the world, online shopping has grown exponentially. Statistics reveal that in Australia, United States of America and the United Kingdom people are increasingly spending more money shopping online. A compounded growth of 10 percent increase has been forecasted for the next five years.
Developing countries like Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya are also catching up with the ‘craze’. More young and internet-savvy individuals are embracing online technology. Although the numbers are way below the global average of about 30 percent, young Africans with access to internet are becoming more familiar and proficient with online shopping.
Here in Ghana, most people, undoubtedly still prefer to go to a nearest market, a shopping mall or store to shop. The fear of being duped or paying for an item that may never be delivered is causing quite a number of people to hold back.
And of course, you cannot buy tomatoes, pepper, 'momoni', and stuff like that online… well, unless of course a genius creates a platform for that, but until then the groceries may remain in the markets.
But that doesn’t take away the increasing number of people buying online. Although there are no statistics, especially in Ghana, an interesting number of young professionals and internet-savvy individuals prefer to go online, place an order and have the convenience of having their items delivered on time and at their door.
Many retail outlets with physical stores have had to create online stores in an attempt to catch the ‘hungry’ online shoppers, while others are purely online based.
Online shops like Jumia, Dziffa.com, Zoobashop etc promise the best quality products at an affordable price and delivered to a customer’s preferred destination. All they need to do is place the order.
The increase is so apparent that one of Ghana’s largest chain retail department stores, Melcom has had to create an online platform for its shoppers.
So Myjoyonline.com spoke to some individuals to assess their views on online shopping, their experience and if it has been worthwhile.
Theresa, a graduate from the University of Ghana and currently doing her National Service patronises online shopping services. She says she could not live without shopping online. Out of the 10 people interviewed, eight admitted to shopping online.
“Even before I came to the university I shop online and when I got to the university it got worse. I just sit in my room, go on Facebook and I can buy anything I need. From clothes, bags, shoes, watches, weaves and other hair products. Most of the things I own were bought from online shops.”
Nana, a new mother said she bought almost all she needed during her pregnancy and even afterwards online.
“My baby’s clothes, anything I needed, I even bought my breast pump from an online shop and it was delivered to me at home. The good thing is that its cash on delivery, so you pay when the item is delivered. It saved me a lot, didn’t need to step out all the time.”
For Akua, her busy schedule makes it almost impossible for her to make shopping trips. “So all I do is that if I need something, I go on Facebook or any other online shopping platform and search. Once I find it, I place the order and the item is delivered to my office. It saves me a lot of time.”
“In the beginning, I didn’t trust it so it took me a while, but after a number of deliveries, I haven’t looked back. It saves me a lot of time. All I do is sit in my office and it’s delivered. I do go to the market sometimes’ but I don’t buy the things I can get online from the market. Online shopping is just it,” that’s Agnes, a banker and a mother of two.
Others who responded to private messages on Facebook had glowing testimonies as well.
So are these testimonies the reality?
Founder of Dziffa.com, Dziffa Akua responds affirmatively. Compared to two years ago, her site – which sells only high quality, authentic made in Ghana products – has seen a 70 percent increase in shoppers.
The increase in numbers is of course due to the availability of the internet and the fact that more Ghanaians have access to it, but also, more of it has to do with convenience and the fact that people have more disposable incomes.
Dziffa also believes the many people now are “choosing convenience over headache,” adding that more people simply don’t want to leave their homes, especially when they can get almost everything they need online, at the same price or sometimes cheaper.
For someone like her who rented a shop without stepping foot outside her home, she said most people just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of buying things in physical shops and at Dziffa.com, customers have a wide range of goods to choose from and everything is done by the team to ensure that they are satisfied.
As Dziffa puts it, “We sell the things we want to buy ourselves.” She is also certain that in three years time, online shopping will skyrocket.
Jumia Ghana’s Public Relations and Marketing Manager, Bennet Otoo says the market is growing and more Ghanaians are embracing online shopping.
A lack of knowledge about the beauty of e-commerce, he said kept many people away, but as people are gaining access to the internet and technological advancements, they are becoming more comfortable shopping online and Jumia.com has seen an increase in its customer base as compared to previous years.
“People are getting to know how their lives are getting as they use it,” so instead of waiting to close from work before going to the market, people are simply going online, he added.
With the widest range of products, from electronics to clothing, home appliances, gadgets, kid’s items and a number of subsidiaries under its umbrella, Jumia.com delivers to clients in Accra for free with “no muss, no fuss” and with “super convenience guaranteed”.
In three years, Bennet is certain that online shopping would have gained stronger grounds, a situation he worries will affect offline businesses.
But should customers be worried as they do these transactions online, especially in times when cyber crime is rife?
When this question was posed to managers of these online shopping platforms, they acknowledged that cyber crime or fraud could be a problem, but measures have been put in place to ensure that customers are not affected.
Dziffa said her customers have nothing to worry about because the necessary security measures have been put in place to avert any such incidences and that her site is safe.
The safety of customers details on Jumia.com is also assured. Bennet says every order goes through a checker, where the necessary security checks are made to identify any loop holes before transactions are processed.