Online Shopping (E-commerce) in Ghana is both growing and changing at a high rate. Even as it continues to grow exponentially around the world, its adoption in Ghana is also on the rise.
Several elements influence the degree to which online businesses are successful in a country like Ghana. They include Internet availability; speed and penetration, payment platforms and solutions, electronic commerce software, delivery and logistics management, addressing systems, favorable regulatory frameworks, and a whole lot more.
Online shopping is a form of electronic commerce that allows consumers to directly buy goods and services from a seller over the internet using a web browser or a mobile app. Consumers find a product of interest by visiting the website of the retailer directly or by searching among alternative vendors using a shopping search engine like Fofoofo Market, which displays the same product’s availability and pricing from different e-retailers.
As of 2020, customers can shop online using a range of different computers and devices, including desktop computers, laptops, tablet computers and smart phones. Online customers must have access to the Internet and a valid method of payment in order to complete a transaction when it comes to online shopping.
Generally, higher levels of education and personal income correspond to more favourable perceptions of shopping online. Increased exposure to technology also increases the possibility of developing favourable attitudes towards new shopping channels.
Online shopping is now ingrained in our day-to-day activities, but snapping up whatever you want with the flick of a mouse was not always so commonplace.
The first ever electronic commerce website in Ghana was founded by eshopafrica which was owned by a lovely English woman called Cordelia Salter-Nour in 1999, with the website launching officially in February of 2001. For the past few decades, due to the interplay of a number of factors, the world of business has experienced tremendous changes all over the world, creating a new business environment on the internet.
These factors include globalization, Information Communication Technology, mass customization, empowered customers, disintermediation and deregulation. The new economy, with its new technologies, has resulted in the explosion of the internet serving as a business medium for many countries across the world, even Ghana.
Whiles its development in Ghana was held back for some time by relatively low internet and banking penetration, as well as difficulties in delivery which was as a result of unclear addressing systems and informal housing, e-commerce is starting to take-off. In addition, heavy traffic and sometimes crowded malls make shopping from home attractive to many. Both internet and smartphone penetration have increased considerably in recent years, broadening the market for e-commerce services.
There were 14.76 million internet users in Ghana as of January 2020.The number of internet users in Ghana increased by one million, which is a 7.5% increase between 2019 and 2020. The number of mobile connections has also increased by 2.1% which is approximately eight hundred and twenty-five thousand (825000) between 2019 and 2020.
These have all contributed to the exponential growth of online businesses and other e-commercial platforms in Ghana and also given rise to more entrepreneurs taking to internet-based businesses and launching additional e-commerce offerings, especially as logistical factor, such as the road networks, are expected to improve over the medium to long term.
Online buying and selling have become important parts of the lives of many people living in Ghana these days. The development of the Internet and its unlimited worldwide impact were the basis to outreach entrepreneurship to the new spheres like most African Countries including Ghana. E-commerce allows companies and various businesses to sell without the necessity to set-up brick-and-mortar stores. Online shopping can be an excellent resource for those looking to expand their purchasing options and save money. Online stores are highly competitive with other stores, which drives prices down. Price-comparison websites make deal hunting easier and you can find the online stores with the best reputations by reading reviews submitted by other online customers.
Virtual shops allow people to shop from the comfort of their homes without the pressure of a salesperson, and online marketplaces provide a new and more convenient venue for the exchange of virtually all types of goods. Besides being able to shop from the comfort of your home, many online stores offer low or no shipping charges and free ship-to-store options.
This reduces the amount of money spent on the entire purchase and hence prices of items purchased online tend to be lower than the prices of the same items in various brick-and-mortar stores.
Most online stores sell products at low prices because of the lack of money spent on overhead. Local stores have operating costs like rent, water, heat and air that is figured, at least partially, into the mark-up of the products. By shopping online, most people are able to save money spent on purchasing gas or fuel every single time they want to visit the nearest local store or shopping mall.
Comparison sites like Fofoofomarket.com show a wide range of products and prices before you make a final decision so you can make the most of your budget.
Unlike local stores which are not always open on a 24/7 basis, online shopping platforms are available every single day and people are able to buy and sell their products and services easily especially when there is an emergency.
A good instance is when most local stores had to close during the observance of lockdown measures in most countries, Ghana inclusive. Before the coronavirus pandemic, relying on the internet for shopping had not been so ingrained in our day-to-day lives. As the pandemic persists, most people have relied on eCommerce to get things to their doors, contact-free and fast.
These things range from essentials to not-so-quiet essentials, from groceries, books, beauty supplies, inflatable children’s pools and many others. Online shopping has been so beneficial to the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus as well in so many ways.
Social distancing measures can easily be observed since people do not have to go to local stores and shopping malls to make purchases for various products and more so, they can purchase various services online. There is no physical contact with preferable items until the full purchase has been made and has been delivered to ones doorstep.
Also, there is no stress in purchasing products in case one needs to quarantine when he or she begins to see signs of the virus or is recovering. By using online payment methods, people hardly get into contact with physical cash like currency notes and coins when making transactions over online services or on online marketing platforms.
Online shopping comes with so many benefits but has a few disadvantages. Sometimes a deal that looks great falls short of what is being advertised. Getting in touch with customer service can be challenging in many cases, and you may be limited to emails and chat.
Problem-solving face-to-face with local stores employees is often faster and more satisfying. Contacting the next level of management is also easier at local stores than most online stores and even marketing platforms, which is why many Ghanaians have made up their minds to shop online with Fofoofo Market.
Also, most people are unable to physically inspect or try on items being considered for purchase, but now that is no longer an issue since it helps curb the transmission of the coronavirus from person to person by touch.
One loses the power to negotiate price and payment terms that may exist in local stores when it comes to online stores since the prices always fixed.
Getting a good deal is still the most important thing for online shoppers with Covid-19 safety precautions as the second priority. Fofoofo Market has a wide range of negotiable products and services which allows many online customers to spend within their budget.
Online shopping has ramped up since the pandemic hit – and surveys show many people intend to carry on these habits rather than go back to shops. And people are still poised to keep shopping online, even as shops open their doors again.
With such a shift in purchasing behaviour, it may not even be that physical retail does not satisfy the recreational consumer any longer, but rather that there is simply no room for the act of browsing in the post Covid-19 era.
There are touchless temperature checks, mandatory wearing of masks and hand sanitizer stations as well as conspicuous cleaning conducted during opening hours.
Though cheery signs in shop windows say, ’Welcome Back’ and ‘We Missed You!’, there is no forgetting we are still in the midst of a global pandemic.
With the Covid-19 crisis, the radar of customers for hygiene and safety are eminently more acute than they have ever been before.
Touchless temperature checks are among the new standard procedures customers must adjust to in order to return to their favorite shops.
Shoppers, meanwhile, have moved online at a record pace, ordering groceries and cleaning products like sanitizers to their front door – a habit most are expected to keep up after the pandemic.
As more and more people become accustomed to buying what they need and selling from the comfort of their homes, the purpose of streets lined with fast-fashion behemoths, charity shops and sporting-goods chains will likely need to evolve, changing the shape of cities along with it.