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Online shopping comes to Nigeria

16 May 2013 - 10:19 by Mike Price

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The spread of new retail experiences to emerging nations is an intriguing process to watch and one which throws new light on the way that things work here in the UK.

This week an article in the Financial Times has examined the burgeoning market for safe shopping online which is developing in Nigeria, a major African nation with a population that exceeds 160 million.

What makes Nigeria's retail sector different from the UK is that a true bricks and mortar infrastructure, with major chains competing for customers' loyalty, never really developed.

This makes it far more appropriate for e-commerce sites to become established here, since they offer drastically increased catalogues of products when compared to the tiny independent outlets that locals would previously have to rely on for their purchases.

There are a few emerging websites offering safe shopping online to people in Nigeria, many of which emulate the retail experience offered by Amazon. This includes Konga and Jumia, both of which have only been operational for a few months and yet are receiving around a thousand orders a day.

This may not sound like a significant amount of activity, but for a nation that has only just begun to offer widespread internet access to its emerging middle classes, it is definitely impressive.

The power of e-commerce to make headway in developing nations has become apparent in a number of cases. In China, for example, there are many successful urban areas in which inhabitants leave gleaming new shopping malls empty and instead choose to shop online, because this is more convenient and there is no older retail habit to break.

The UK may currently be one of the world's most e-commerce aware nations, but it could soon be overtaken by Nigeria and other international contemporaries.