B2B e-commerce solving logistics challenges associated with Nigeria’s informal retail sector

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Worth over $100 billion, the Nigerian retail market is one of the most vibrant sectors of the Nigerian economy. There’s hardly a Nigerian street without a retailer. Such is the importance of these businesses to everyday life in the country. As common as their services are, retail ventures in Nigeria are not for the faint hearted. Their day-to-day business life is full of challenges. From uncertain market prices to transportation hazards, a Nigerian retailer faces it all in the quest for survival. 

One of the major challenges facing these sets of people is the restocking and transportation of their wares. Business-to-business e-commerce platforms are bridging the shopping gap by bringing retailers online and linking them to manufacturers. The infrastructure deficits make transportation of goods after purchase more difficult. Many retailers incur losses in this process; either on damaged goods or high transportation charges. 

Innovative B2B platforms identify this infrastructure deficit, and deploy their  technology to change the delivery landscape for informal retailers in the country. Due to limited infrastructure, informal retailers have to go to great lengths to obtain inventory. Distance to market, opportunity costs, dangers of travel, inadequate transport for purchased goods all impact informal retailers. Emerging technology trends are creating an environment where informal retailers no longer have to deal with these issues, thus changing the landscape for them one step at a time. 

“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% of our retailers reducing their 2 – 4 times a week restock trips to zero,” said Alerzo Limited CEO, Adewale Opaleye. 

This crucial sector of the economy is dominated by women who combine household  roles with their business. Linking them up directly with manufacturers via the internet opens up more hours for family and other business activities. It also eliminates the goods transportation risk associated with loading and handling during the offloading process. With B2B e-commerce platforms providing logistics solutions, retailers are assured of quality and safe delivery. 

Interestingly, the various industry players offer delivery services with different incentives to make their platforms preferred shopping options for retailers. Notably, Alerzo, a leader in the B2B e-commerce space offers free delivery for retailers stocking on their platform. Another industry player, TradeDepot, also offers free delivery for those who meet their required inventory value. This also saves them transportation costs and increases profit margins. 

As more retailers embrace the online inventory channels, the delivery infrastructure of B2B e-commerce platforms might be key in filling a major infrastructure gap in the economy, just like the delivery network of B2C platforms is doing with third party service delivery for SMEs. 

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