Online sales in Ghana have taken a new turn for growth in recent times. It continues to increase as the online market grows exponentially with arrival of new online markets and traditional retail and trading platform going digital and acquiring online presence. But how is your business taking advantage of this trend to grow? How are businesses taking advantage of e-commerce and its attendant revenue possibilities? 

For over two decades online retailing has been in existence. In 1994, Amazon a giant in online retailing was founded. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce sales have more than doubled since 2007, but as of the first quarter of 2016, they only comprise 7.7 percent of total retail sales. This figure is way below for the Ghanaian case. Although there are influxes of online retail platforms, the traditional brick and mortar space engaging in offline trading rakes in a chunk of the business revenue. Most businesses in Ghana are still being transacted offline. The industry is at its embryonic phase in Ghana. 

These small businesses in Ghana have a great deal of potential to enter and capture some enormous amount of revenues in the e-commerce space. With smartphone sales on the ascendancy in Ghana, it is only right and proper that small businesses position themselves to benefit from this burgeoning space of retail. One other advantage is the very low barrier to entry for businesses. Businesses are finding ways to enter the online space and make money at little or no cost compared to the traditional floor space-renting or hiring or even putting up from scratch with enough human resource, with its attending huge financial burden. In the future, small businesses must find ways to go digital (online) and profit from its enormous benefits. That needs a whole new shift in mindset and strategy for disruption (a total shift in the way of doing things backed by technology). Which businesses are disrupting to become the Ubers (Uber-changed the way we pick taxis around the world through an app, recently launched in Accra) and Airbnb (Airbnb is an online marketplace that enables people to list, find, then rent vacation homes for a processing fee. It has over 1,500,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 191 countries.)

These online retailers are giving brick and mortar businesses a good run for their money in the online retailing business in Ghana; Tonaton,Jumia,Jovago,OLX,Jumia,Ahwenepa among others.  But whether you remain a brick and mortar business or already in the digital (online) space using online as an additional source for revenue, these three (3) pointers may increase your online sales and boost your business’ growth. 

1. Give online exclusives: what can be achieved here is for the brick and mortar business wanting to grow the online business giving some sweet deals for customers/clients who do online-only transactions. For the small business selling let’s say spare parts, it can be decided that, only those who buy spare parts online will receive some discount. This will drive more online sales and transaction. The business can also offer rewards promo; in a bid to increase traffic to their online stores, certain online shops would offer free delivery services to specific geographic locations. Such incentives would entice existing customers to switch from offline transactions to online transaction. Loyalty cards can be introduced where a certain amount transacted online will earn them some sweet rewards. 

2. Always provide outstanding products and excellent customer service: the options available to the customers are limitless in this day and age of online retailing. What they are buying from your online store is also available sometimes at discounted rates at the other stores. What distinguishes you from the pack is the outstanding service you offer. The age-old mantra, the customer is king still holds true in online customer service. Listen, listen and listen to your customers. If possible connect to them emotionally; it works better for increased and repeated sales on your online store. 

The face-to-face interaction is curtailed online so being responsive to customers concerns is a sure bet to get them coming back to your platform. If customers are satisfied they leave good reviews which go a long way to tell others about the business in a positive light, the reverse is true. A dissatisfied customer will take to social media (facebook, twitter, Whatsapp) and express that dissatisfaction to a community of prospective customers running into millions which might go to affect sales and traffic on your online shop. The bad customer experience gets noticed and broadcasted at the speed of light than the good customer experience so strive to leave an excellent lasting customer experience with your customers.

3. Shopping on your online platform should be made easy:  We are leaving in a digital world or fast approaching it but many are not inclined to its workings and will at the least opportunity avoid the stress and hustle in using it. Simple navigation and search tools make it user friendly for customers. Online shops that offer simple navigation and easy searches gain much traffic and sales. In as much as you would want your online shop to be unique, making it simple and easy to use should be your focus. 

There are overwhelming advantages to be gained from taking your business online. From increased revenues to traffic, the success of your online store cannot be downplayed with a carefully planned and executed online retail strategy. The traditional brick and mortar retailing is still king over here in Ghana, but the surge in smartphones and appreciation of digital technology in Ghana makes online retail the next Big King. 


Author: Paa Swanzy-Essuman ||