West Africa: An emerging e-commerce market
An increasing number of online retailers springing up across West Africa as rates of internet usage rise, particularly amongst mobile phone users, necessitating smart new e-commerce marketing strategies.
Online shopping is still in its relative infancy in emerging markets like West Africa, but as a result they offer the potential for huge levels of growth according to DHL Express's head of marketing Sumesh Rahavendra.
"Although global e-retailer Amazon celebrated its 20th anniversary in July, e-commerce companies in Africa are only now beginning to mark and/or accelerate their presence in the marketplace," he said.
It has also grown by recognising the realities of the region it operates in, allowing a variety of payment option such as cash on delivery, which is important due to the fact that many people in West Africa do not have bank accounts, much less credit cards.
Mark Essien of the Nigerian hotel booking operation Hotels.ng says the e-commerce market has only reached a tenth of its potential.
"Commerce is more convenient online and the e-commerce stores are capitalising on this shift in behaviour," he told PCWorld.com. "The people who set themselves up now and position themselves well are poised to capture all the growth as it happens over the next five years."
The proportion of Africa's GDP made up by online commerce is still small currently, but could grow to more than 5 or 6 per cent over the next 10 years, equalling the developed economies of Sweden and the UK according to a McKinsey & Co. report.
"However, if the Internet achieves the same kind of scale and impact as the spread of mobile phones in Africa, iGDP could account for as much as 10 percent, or $300 billion, of total GDP, while producing a leap forward in economic and social development," the report said.