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Top business to business (B2B) e-commerce platform, Alerzo, has called for transformation in the operations of the informal retail sector in the country. The e-commerce platform holds that serving informal retailers especially those in underserved areas and helping them engage technology will get them better positioned in running profitable businesses. Group CEO of Alerzo, Adewale Opaleye, stressed that informal employment according to the statistics from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), accounts for over 80 per cent of total employment in some economies in sub-Saharan Africa, while informal output accounts for more than 50 percent of the region’s overall official Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He also noted that aside from the informal sector making up 50 per cent of the nation’s GDP, the Nigerian food and grocery retail market had total revenues of $45.7bn in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate of 5.8 per cent between 2016 and 2020. On the importance of informal retailers to manufacturers, distributors and consumers, Opaleye said prioritising the sector and addressing the challenges therein will boost the Nigerian economy. The Alerzo boss, who reiterated the tech firm’s mission of leveraging technology to transform Nigeria’s informal retail sector, pointed out the peculiarity of some services Alerzo provides informal retailers on its platform. “On our Alerzoshop retail app, we have a vast assortment available to our customers to choose from, and we offer free delivery in all the over 13 cities we are currently operational. We change the landscape for them (retailers) through on-time delivery.‘‘For the past two years, we have delivered to informal retailers at no cost. With our delivery services, retailers save time, energy, and resources that they would have otherwise expended in restocking. These benefits have resulted in 85 percent of our retailers reducing their two to four times a week restock trips to zero,” stated Opaleye. Also through its Alerzopay PoS terminals, informal traders are empowered with an extra source of income in addition to the ease of doing business and profits they get as subscribers on the e-commerce platform. An informal retailer in Calabar, Ruth Okon, who said she finds it easy ordering goods from and getting the same delivered by Alerzo, stated: “Alerzo’s presence has helped a lot. They deliver my goods fast to my store. When I order goods for my groceries store, they get the goods delivered without wasting time. I am very happy because I find it convenient to get goods from Alerzo.” In Kano, 26 years old Shuaib who has been involved in his family business since he was 11 years old said optimising the support from Alerzo, has helped him in accessing products with ease as he plans on opening a second outlet. Similarly, Aliyu shared how knowing Alerzo saves him the stress of visiting the open market to restock.

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