By Tolu Aiyegbusi
Unarguably, many people are now living a world where information is at fingertips in which they can book a ride, order food and plan an entire holiday, using an internet connected phone or device.
Technology changes the way people live completely in all activities, including business transactions with a massive impact on seller-buyer relationship.
For instance, more business transactions are online unlike before and it is possible to start a small business with an online presence so as to reach the outer world.
Goods and services were, hitherto, bought by walking into a store close by but with digital transformation and technological devices, buying things online from any part of the world has become easier.
Presently, there is a rise in online business transactions where consumers can access whatever they are looking for across the country and get the goods delivered.
Online shops, ranging from Jumia, Konga, Dealdey and Slot to Kaymu, are changing many customers’ shopping habits brought about by technological advancements.
Because the online shops deal in all articles such as cloths, jewelry, kitchen utensils, sports equipment, electronics, even cars, among others by this innovation, the link between a buyer and the market is stronger.
Online supermarkets, stores, retail outlets have also found confidence in online advertisement as they pay for other websites or social media they choose so that internet users can patronise them.
WhatsApp application, for instance, has become popular interactive platform, particularly to facilitate effective communication on buying, payments and delivery of goods.
This innovation notwithstanding, Mrs Maimuna Barde, Information and Technology expert advises that it is important for sellers to display their store brand and products and allow customers to access the products online with a simplified process.
Barde, the founder of Keyhub, a computer training start-up Abuja, advises further that excellent customer service is very fundamental to establishing online business.
“Display your store brand online and allow your customers order for your products with a simplified checkout process,’’ she explains.
However, in spite of the rise in online shopping, many people still depend on foot traffic and having a brick-and-mortar presence.
This category of people expresses reservations about online shopping, observing that they may not be satisfied shopping online without physical feeling of a product they desire before buying.
For instance, Miss Damilola Shittu, a resident of Abuja, expresses concern about online fraud that may be associated with some websites.
“Not falling for scammers online and security of goods-in-transit security is another concern but with more advancements in technology, goods can be monitored online and by communicating with the seller,’’ she said.
Similarly, Mr John Ogah, a resident of Abuja, says his challenge with online market is the lack of trust in online payments.
He states that there ought to be arrangement for online businesses to come up with safe alternatives of payment by customers.
“Where financial information is disclosed in cases of pay before delivery, there may be a risk of security breach, which is my fear.
“Online business owners should invest in security measures such as encryption to minimise this risk, boost consumer trust and mitigate potential damage to their reputations,’’ he observes.
Another online shopper, Mrs Mohammed Sadiya, who claims she has been shopping online for more than eight years, says buying approach of Nigerians is still more physical than virtual.
She, nonetheless, insists that she has no time to go about on foot as long as what she orders online can be supplied.
“I carefully look at specifications, depending on what I want to buy so that what I order for is what I get.
“I also usually watch out for reviews on products and promptness in delivery I want, especially in pay before delivery orders; and I usually shop with trusted online stores.
“I buy almost everything I need online, even bulk-buying, in this time and age, who has the time to be moving from one place to the other,’’ she says.
Irrespective of the public opinions on online sales, Mrs Ade Sade, the founder of second-hand kids wear online platform — buyokrikakids — notes that more people have access in more ways than ever before to online markets.
She observes that the introduction of rating systems for online outlets has helped in boosting buyer’s trust to make buying and selling on these online platforms safer.
She, however, advises buyers to use only well-rated sellers while shopping and take into consideration the location of the store and where they are resident.
Sade observes further that online market is still evolving and fragile to some people, especially to those that use cellular phones to do online shopping.
“Things will definitely change in10-year’s time because as more people have access to internet and come online, more people will embrace the innovation of buying and selling online,’’ she observes.