Technology is redefining informal retail in Nigeria

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“It was my third time seeing the branded delivery van. I honestly thought it was one of the logistics companies as usual. Fortunately this time, I was at the shop to buy toiletries. And I heard the shop owner saying to the driver: “Ojà tí mo order fún pé” meaning (that the goods I ordered are complete.) I waited for the driver to leave so I could ask her some questions. 

“She explained how she was introduced to the company, Alerzo, which enables her to order goods and get them delivered to her shop. She quickly showed me the app through which she made the order. I was surprised as anyone who knows the women would be. I’ve seen her with her smartphone several times. My assumptions are that she uses it for calls and occasional social media visitations.

I asked if she made the order herself, she told me that at first, her son helped her to place the order and now she does it herself. I know technology is reshaping the way things are done, but I must confess that I never thought retailers in the informal market could be carried along in such a manner. Really impressive.”

The above were the words of a Lagos resident, Toyin Ajose who for the first time witnessed the new revolution in the Nigerian informal retail sector. In the last couple of years, some innovative e-commerce brands have come to the fore to bridge the digital gap in the informal retail sector. The approach is to make the process of restocking their shops easier. For many of the retailers, a trip to the market takes a whole day, while the transportation fares also eat a chunk of their profit.

Through the technology network of these business-to-business platforms, retailers are able to get inventory without a visit to physical markets.

“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 

By joining e-commerce and restocking directly from manufacturers, retailers are also able to cut costs, which provides the needed boosts for their businesses and widen their profit margins. The services of B2B shopping platforms are making informal retail easier by redefining the restocking process, thus opening up the market to more possibilities. 

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