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COVID-19: E-commerce companies cry out under weight of restrictions by Govt security operatives

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At a time when global players in the e-commerce sector have seen the peculiarities of their operations come to the fore in helping governments and people in other climes observe social distancing and stay in supply of essential items without leaving their homes, the Nigerian e-Commerce sector is instead buckling under the weight of heavy restrictions by state actors and law enforcement officials; leading to no end of frustrations for players in the sector.

 

E-commerce giants in other climes such as Amazon and Alibaba, for instance, have played important roles in the fight against COVID-19 in other parts of the world, working in concert with the government in helping people ensure social distancing through wholesome adoption of online and contact-less shopping.

 

However, investigations reveal a sorry tale of huge pains and frustrations among e-Commerce players in Nigeria, in stark contrast to what obtains elsewhere.

 

The likes of Konga and Jumia, two of the biggest operators in the Nigerian market have endured difficulties at the hands of government enforcement agents, despite being the best means of contact-less shopping that can help in curbing the spread of the virus.

 

Research shows that in a number of countries and even in Africa, e-Commerce players have been supported and encouraged by the government in the fight against COVID-19.

But here in Nigeria, the situation is different.

 

The Nigerian government and some state governors have not only failed in openly backing the operations of e-Commerce players as an essential ally in the COVID-19 crisis, but a situation where security operatives are frustrating the operations of e-commerce companies due to the ongoing lockdown and border closures has further worsened matters.

 

A source at Konga, who spoke on condition of anonymity provided some insights into the dire situation.

 

‘‘E-Commerce is a cost-intensive venture all over the world, one which relies on a number of very expensive applications which must be constantly paid for.

 

“Konga, for instance, is burning a lot of cash to keep the business going and employing thousands of Nigerians directly and indirectly.

 

“Yet, we are taking huge losses in meeting the commitments to our customers, many of whom rely on us for essential deliveries.

 

“Our merchants, who we also rely on in meeting the numerous online orders, cannot open their shops due to the lockdown.

 

“These merchants are individuals who have all being trained on essential safety procedures such as wearing masks, gloves and social distancing and, as such, pose little infection risk.

 

“In addition, we have to endure undue delays in the course of reaching the customers. For instance, a truck making essential intra-state deliveries is often delayed for a minimum of six days, thereby causing huge pains for the company and consumers,’’ he lamented.

 

‘‘Even when granted exemption letters, the situation on the streets is far from ideal. We have encountered severe delays and huge frustration as a result of the overzealous actions of some security operatives who sometimes refuse to grant access to delivery personnel or in other cases, even turn them back. The government needs to do something about this.’’

 

Also, feedback from sources at Jumia, who pleaded not to be named, paints a picture of frustrations.

 

‘‘In virtually every other country, e-Commerce is being deployed as a critical weapon in the fight against COVID-19. Consumers are encouraged to go online and leverage e-Commerce for contact-less shopping by staying at home and receiving their essential deliveries including groceries at their doorsteps.

 

“Shoppers can also pay via e-channels which obliterates the use of cash or POS. But in Nigeria, we have hardly seen any form of institutional support in this regard.

 

‘‘In fact, we have seen a situation where delivery is constantly being hampered by the harassment of our riders, vendors and delivery men on a daily basis.

 

“This happens to both intra-state and inter-state deliveries. As a result, deliveries that should take 24 hours due to the absence of traffic on the roads now stretch for days or don’t even happen at all in some cases.

 

“Also, our staff, who actually are essential service providers, equally face serious difficulties and in some cases, harassments by security operatives on their way to and from work.

 

Continuing, the source stated: ‘‘Government has a critical role to play in nipping this worrisome situation in the bud as the operations of most e-commerce companies are suffering.

 

‘Worse still, when consumers encounter undue delays for an item ordered online, they would naturally turn to offline markets, thereby worsening the risk of community transmission of the virus.’’

 

Indeed, with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic which broke out in Wuhan, China but which has since spread across the globe, virtually every country has had their national life and normal economic activities disrupted.

 

Subsequently, a number of measures have come into force in helping curb not only the spread of the dreaded virus, but also halt community transmission, which has been identified as one of the most worrisome aspects of the war against COVID-19.

 

Specifically, there is an emphasis on behavioural changes, with social distancing and improved personal hygiene emerging as essential guides.

 

Furthermore, restrictions have been placed on areas of high human concentration such as airports, schools, religious gatherings and most importantly, markets.

Consequently, e-Commerce has emerged as a ready-made channel for helping people carry out contact-less shopping, observing social distancing and the important call to stay at home, while also coping seamlessly with the shut-down of offline markets.

 

As a matter of fact, evidence abounds of how e-commerce has been leveraged to great effect in other climes and even in other African countries in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In Germany and New Zealand, two of the countries that have made the most progress with respect to curbing the COVID-19 pandemic, e-Commerce has been one of the secrets.

 

Even in other African countries such as Morocco, Ghana, Uganda – where citizens were advised in a government communique to opt for online shopping options as a means of getting essential items delivered to homes – and in Ghana – where e-Commerce was given special status and Ghanaians urged to rely more on digital channels for the delivery of food and other essentials; the situation is different.

 

In fact, same special deployment of e-Commerce in aiding the citizenry observe the essential regulations of social distancing and reducing unnecessary contact in crowded markets has been identified in China, Spain, France, the United Arab Emirates, among others.

However, in Nigeria, the situation is almost the opposite.

 

A number of Nigerians, left with little choice due to afore-mentioned challenges encountered by e-Commerce players, are increasingly relying on open-air markets – which manage to escape the subsisting ban – to shop for their essentials.

 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the country is currently battling to stop ongoing community transmission of COVID-19 as confirmed cases continue to rise by the day. Going by recent figures released on Saturday by the country’s disease-fighting agency, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Nigeria has recorded 1182 cases of COVID-19; with Lagos in particular, accounting for nearly 60 per cent of the cases.

 

Yet, e-Commerce companies, which have the capability to reach the last mile with essential deliveries, are not given free rein to operate.

 

Further buttressing the points raised above, the source at Konga called on the government to take action.

 

‘‘We expect the government and the authorities to act. E-Commerce companies in Nigeria can play a key role in the fight against COVID-19, as can be seen from the examples in other countries.

 

“The Nigerian government should provide more institutional support and some form of public backing for this budding sector as this would go a long way in not only encouraging more Nigerians to embrace the needed behavioural change central to the COVID-19 fight but would also ensure less hassles from other state actors on the highways,’’ he concluded.

 

Nigeria is currently battling hard to rein in the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic.

While there has been no formal restriction of e-commerce players, the government has equally stopped short of any form of official public pronouncement or declaration to ensure that the services of e-Commerce companies are protected and not disrupted by security agencies enforcing the lock-down.

 

In addition, the government has failed in toeing the path of other countries in leveraging e-commerce to great advantage in helping Nigerians stay in supply of essential products while complying with the lockdown.

 

 

 


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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University.

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Glo Simplifies Customers’ Access to Company’s Information

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Globacom has demystified what used to be a cumbersome task of getting company’s information from its website, a situation that had in the past, frustrated several customers from getting relevant information from company’s website.

It is now easy for companies and organizations to give their stakeholders free access to their websites through a service called Sponsored Data on the Globacom network.

Through the service, customers and other members of the public will be able to browse the website of the sponsoring company even when the members of public have no active data subscription.

Explaining the service, Globacom said companies would be able to buy data buckets and subsequently allow their existing and prospective customers or any other member of the public to access their websites, apps and other data services without having to expend their own data. The cost of access by the end-user is borne by the sponsoring companies.

Globacom in a statement disclosed that Sponsored Data service is a more targeted and effective method of inducing trial of the sponsoring company’s digital products as well as free trial and free sampling of its content.

The telecom operator said the service would give better return on investment (ROI) to the sponsoring companies, adding that it will facilitate over 70 per cent increase in customer engagement and foster incremental revenue through the engagement of new customers. The company said this service would be particularly beneficial to betting companies, IT and Technology companies, manufacturing concerns, banks, schools and others.

Globacom said staff of the sponsoring companies who are on the Glo network could also benefit from the sponsored data plans.

According to Globacom, there are various options for companies and organisations wishing to use the sponsored service as they are free to choose from sponsored data buckets ranging from 200GB to 50TB, according to their needs.

Globacom said “the plans are already available on the network and are valid for renewable 30 days.”

Globacom said it would continue to come out with solutions that would boost customer’s experience, especially at the period of CoVID-19 that has increased online activities of organisations, since most customers and staff of organisations have shifted to online activities in order to align with the new normal, brought about by COVID-19 pandemic that has negatively impacted on businesses.


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Samsung Galaxy S20 FE: Inspired by Fans for the Fans

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Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. has revealed the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition (FE), the newest member of the Galaxy S20 series. Galaxy S20 FE is a premium flagship smartphone that includes innovations Galaxy fans told us they love most, and it is also made available at an accessible price point.

COVID-19 disrupted the world as we knew it and technology is now playing a more crucial role in our lives and that is why we created Galaxy S20 FE; to deliver flagship experiences to more consumers.

Samsung took select features of the Galaxy S20 series, such as the super smooth scrolling display, an AI-powered camera, advanced chipset, hyper-fast connectivity, all day battery, expandable storage, with a streamlined premium design, in order to create the all-new Galaxy S20 FE.

“The S20 FE is an extension of the Galaxy S20 family and is the start of a new way to bring meaningful innovation to even more people to let them do the things they love with the best of Galaxy.” Says Mr. Caden Yu, the Managing Director, Samsung Electronics West Africa

All you want, to do what you love

Express the best of yourself when out on a day trip or at night catching fun with a pop of color that reflects your personal style, attitude and personality. The S20 FE comes in variant colors of Cloud Red, Cloud Lavender, Cloud Mint and Cloud Navy.

With the S20 FE, the fun never stops. The pro grade camera and 30X Space zoom help you capture memorable moments whether near or far at day time.

Plus, the night mode multi-frame and powerful performance gets you through the fun nights and the 4500mAH battery keeps you on all day with little in between time to recharge using the 15W fast charging.

And since life can be unpredictable, the Galaxy S20 FE is water and dust resistant; IP68 rated. Better yet, when accidents happens, one can rest easy knowing the 24 months warranty and Screen repair offer that comes with Pre order has got your back.

Pre order

The S20 FE is available for pre order from the 9th of October with a Wireless Bluetooth earphones, Clear Standing cover and Screen repair offer. You also get a 4 month Free Subscription on YouTube premium. Trade In Discount Offer also available from Pre order. Trade in your old phones and enjoy discount on the S20 FE

Launch

The S20 FE would be officially available in the market from the 23rd of October. Visit any of our Samsung Experience Store nationwide for an amazing and pleasurable experience.

Device Specifications

With its variants of colors, S20 FE comes with a 6GB RAM/128GB ROM, a long lasting battery of 4500mAh with 15W fast charging, a 32MP selfie camera and a 120Hz Super-Amoled display.


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MTN Revv Programme: Experts Train SMEs on Customer Experience and Data Analytics

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Experts at the latest edition of the Revv Programme masterclass have trained SME owners how to improve customer experience and maximise data analytics to scale their business growth.

 

The virtual conference themed: “Redefining customer experience through effective customer relationship management and data analytics” which was held on Wednesday, September 23, 2020.

 

Panelists at the conference included the Olubayo Adekanmbi, Chief Transformation Officer, MTN Nigeria,  Ugonwa Nwoye, Chief Customer Relations Officer, MTN Nigeria, Adenike Ogunlesi, founder and Chief Responsibility Officer, Ruff N’ Tumble,  Chairman, Fasmi CRO Group, Prof. Ndubuisi Ekekwe and Principal consultant, Niche Customer Experience Consulting Firm, Debbie Akwara.

 

Olubayo Adekanmbi, who is an astute business leader and recognised data scientist, shared insights on the customer mindset in a post-COVID economy.

 

According to him, “Even though we are in a new normal, we are still dealing with a person who has the capacity to adjust to every environment.

 

“As SMEs we have to observe the environment, learn from it and take actions accordingly”.

 

Ugonwa Nwoye brings over 25 years of management experience across industries including Oil and Gas.

 

She advised the participating SMEs to pay attention to diverse customer channels as they arise.

 

“You need to meet the customers where they are. To achieve this, a good customer database is essential. You need to know the kind of channels your customer wants to be reached.”

 

While sharing her experience as an entrepreneur of over three decades, Adenike Ogunlesi emphasized that customers want to feel good where they spend their money.

 

“The most important thing is that regardless of the technological tools you deploy today, it is all about the experiential economy which is the way you make people feel.”

 

While thanking MTN for the Revv initiative she noted, “This sort of platform allows SMEs to learn much quicker than the opportunity we got thirty years ago, well done to MTN”.

 

The Revv Programme was launched in August by MTN Nigeria as an initiative to train over 10,000 SMEs by adopting a four-pronged approach that includes masterclass sessions, support with productivity tools, access to market and advisory initiatives.

 

The programme seeks to help SMEs relearn, readjust, and retool their businesses in a post-COVID economy.

 

Since inception, over 5,000 entrepreneurs have attended the Revv masterclasses with more than thirty business leaders and industry experts across different sectors facilitating the sessions.

 

Participants at the masterclasses have been enjoined to take full advantage of the programme for a chance to join Y’ello 200, an accelerator programme by MTN Nigeria where select small business owners will access a broad range of technology and productivity support tools in addition to expert advisory.

 


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