E-commerce; a tale of Many Colours

2015 was the year online shopping finally won a place in our lives. We looked forward to the new arrivals, watched out for discount sales and even kept vigil for Black Friday. This is not a big surprise due to the increasing accessibility to technology; especially mobile, that Africa now has. The average seventeen-year-old now has a phone that is capable of internet browsing.

The steady rise in our confidence in online shopping isn’t a surprise, considering our passion for luxury and convenience, and the millions of dollars these companies have pumped into brainwashing us. Online shopping looks just too easy; you can shop from the comfort of your home, and your goods get delivered at your doorstep. You escape the problems of traffic, hassles of going from shop to shop looking for the best deal; and of course the scourging sun beating you mercilessly. Online shopping is just perfect you would think. Before you think of starting your own Online Shopping ‘Mall’ be informed that even after 4 years, industry leaders like Jumia are yet to declare profit? I mean not a kobo of profit made!

For a customer there are many issues with these companies, how would I know if this ‘20% discount’ is actually real? Shouldn’t I see a product physically before buying? And what’s up with this delivery man who knows basically nothing about the product he came to deliver? I want to be able to compare prices, negotiate with the seller, see his body language and not just pick things up from some website. And when the product malfunctions, I want to be able to call the guy that assured me it will work well before collecting my money, not some customer care person whose answers were written down for him to memorise. Who protects me when I buy things on the internet from a faceless company!

I strongly believe these dot-com companies should be held more accountable for the shortcomings observed in their operations; issues like misleading discount offers, late deliveries and so on need proper attention to ensure that people don’t get hurt for putting their money into computers.

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