eCommerce in Africa urged to take advantage of mobile

By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana

The Executive Chairman of Alltel, Prince Kofi Kludjeson, has urged operators of eCommerce in Ghana and Africa as a whole to take advantage of the current trend for most Africans to turn to trading online via their mobile handsets. According to him as the middle of 2015, 200 million individuals alone were accessing the internet through mobile devices, a figure that will almost double by the year 2020.

Kludjeson, who has played a pivotal role in Ghana’s telecommunications industry and was the one-time CEO of Celltel – now Expresso, was addressing delegates of this year’s Ghana eCommerce Conference on the theme “ The Role of Mobile in Engaging Successfully with your Target Market”.

He believes that unlike advanced economies where the access of the internet is one way through a computer or tablet, many Africans rely heavily on the mobile phone as their only means of accessing online services and resources.

Providing enough evidence to buttress his point, the Executive Chairman of Alltel revealed that internet browsing via phones now stands at 40 per cent across these markets, with 51% of respondent in Ghana and 47% in Nigeria reporting that they use their phones to access the internet. South Africa and Kenya both record 40% and 34% respectively.

Driving attention to the attractiveness of the Ghanaian online market hence a breakdown of mobile phone access , Kludjeson disclosed that 54 % Ghanaians uses Facebook, 40% sends SMS, 51% Browse Internet and 37% downloads apps, and further stressed that failure on the part of businesses to fact these demographic into their business models would leave them on the disadvantage.

“Indeed, M- commerce has gained a surge in popularity in sectors such as financial services, telecommunications, services and retail, and information services. Users today can bank online, purchase goods and services, adjust their cell phone plans, pay bills, obtain directions, look up traffic, and much more all from their wireless devices. This is how engaged consumers are over wireless devices,” he said.

In order for eCommerce operators to meet their turnover targets to enable them stay in business, he said, it’s important to consider three concerns that are top-of-mind. They include being able to generate business and maintain a pipeline of orders or even attract or keep track of potential clients, managing the sale process, which includes merchandising, payment systems, point-of-sale and delivery, and aftercare through customer relationship management or customer care to ensure repeat business and even newer ones from referral channels.

He further advised that mobile devices can provide the means to reach your audience through various targeted activity. “One: the opportunity for Social Media interactions are endless. All the popular social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc) provide a credible means of engaging with the public i.e consumers through conversation, advertisements, branding images, product reveals etc. Two: SMS, an obvious mobile capability, provides another powerful means of engaging with the target market. The prevalent uses in these parts are via customer care alerts where reminders, notices and other company information are sent customer-wide, but increasingly, we see the see of advertising messages to targeted public and three: plain old Web Browsing. Of course we shouldn’t forget this premier internet application which is to source for information on the World Wide Web. As a business entity, this sort of engagement can be geared towards providing an electronic store with point-of-sale for customers to conduct their desired retail activity,” he added.

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