Running informal retail store in digital age

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Operating in every nook and cranny, informal retailers are life savers in Nigeria. They are often the go-to people for everyday essentials for the majority of Nigerians. As a Nigerian, either rich, average or poor, you must have patronised them at one point or the other for a last minute purchase to meet a pressing essential need.

While these enterprises fill this crucial gap, they put in a lot for every kobo of their profit. The process of restocking their shops is not as easy as the quick dash customers make for purchases. For many of them, a trip to the market takes a whole day. The fares also eat deep into their profit. However, being an informal retailer is becoming easier with e-commerce.

With communication technology putting smartphones at the fingertips of millions of Nigerians, an informal retailer can do much more to make life and business easier and smoother. For instance, there are business-to-business e-commerce platforms linking retailers in the informal market to manufacturers. Alerzo, Omnibiz, TradeDepot to mention a few, are providing reliable links. With app download on their mobile phone, retailers can place orders. 

We are empowering retailers in the informal sector through our ecosystem of digital products, so they are equipped to run profitable and sustainable businesses.  We believe that technology has the potential to transform the way informal retailers conduct their businesses, by using it to facilitate – with just a click of a button – fast & easy access to a wide assortment of consumer products at zero delivery cost to the retailers,” said Adewale Opaleye, Alerzo Limited CEO. 

Market prices are hardly stable, hence retailers are forced to buy less than they planned on a market day. Joining e-commerce and restocking directly from manufacturers will save them such constant market inflation. These savings, in turn, provide the needed boosts for their businesses and widen their profit margins.

Some b2b platforms go as far as offering additional free delivery service to their customers. Another added advantage is that business-to-business shopping platforms are run by professionals with apt business knowledge which they can impart on informal retailers to help grow their businesses. Adopting a digital shopping network also frees up more customers/family time for these sellers, majority of whom are women who run hole keeping duties along with business.  

Running informal retail in the digital age is becoming easier, retailers only need to open their minds to more possibilities. A lot is there to benefit from digital commerce, and everything is just a click away on a smartphone. 

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