Amazon is the behemoth of e-commerce in the western world, selling anything and almost everything to millions of people across the globe. But crucially, Amazon goes a step further and has created a ‘Marketplace’. A place where other ‘sellers’ can be found.
These days also, keeping an active online presence for an SME is now a cardinal rule that if adhered to, guarantees high visibility and increased business.
I had always wondered if this model for ‘Visibility and Growth’ focused on SME’s including those not selling merchandise, could be replicated in a country like Nigeria, and the nearest this has come to be, is the following 4 web portals which would undoubtedly help your business grow.
Yaw of Wazobia FM brought Vconnect to my attention while I listened to a phone in program, proclaiming in his distinct ‘pidgin English’ that Vconnect is the biggest local search engine in Nigeria and that they are giving away free Tablets to whoever gets the correct addresses of the businesses listed on the site, businesses he has chosen for the day . So began my journey into Nigerian E-commerce Web portals.
Registration entails simply filling a registration form that contains all your basic information including contact details, your products and services. Next you claim your online business profile which is your own online space. It’s a good idea to monitor and regularly update your details.
It is a no brainer not to be on this platform, although after waiting in vain for a reply from GTbank, and deciding to peruse their site on my own I discovered a first of its kind as I do not think there is any other bank here in Nigeria or abroad that has this dynamic platform aimed specifically at SME’s.
The SME MarketHub proclaims to ‘not only offer the resources you need to grow your business, but also provides the tools to trade online and gain visibility within the global marketplace’. And it says on the site it’s free to sign up. A registered SME gets a personalized online store front, online payment gateway, inventory management tools, messaging service etc.
This was beginning to look too good to be true so I dug into the fine print, and found a ‘comma’ there, buried in the Merchant Agreement;
“The Merchant shall pay a non- refundable annual Platform Membership Fee (“PlatformFee”) of N10,000.00 ( ten thousand Naira only). The Platform Fee shall be subject to periodic review at the sole discretion of GTBank”.
Merchant being you the SME, so you have to determine what N10,000 means to you.
Not wanting to be the last it appears First bank has hastily cobbled up a community for SME’s as well, because as at the time of writing the website is sparse and returns a coming soon message on most links. Providing loans to small businesses seems to be a huge part of its purpose when it finally rolls out.
This is recent initiative from Konga. The online retail site is inviting merchants to come and sell practically anything on their platform. There is no sign up fee, and a currently running promo promises that commissions will not kick in until October 2014.
As technology becomes mainstream in Nigeria, even more innovative services will spring up that enable small and medium enterprises to do, be and achieve more, using the power of the internet.
Another version of this post first appeared here.