We thought we were safe, or at least closer to safety when many people around the world received the covid-19 vaccines. Many of the developed countries got access to large volumes and quickly life returned to near normal. For many developing countries, the number of vaccines was negligible but a general sense of safety was restored when a couple of people took both jabs of the vaccine. In a couple of months, everyone began to live as if everything was on reset. Although masks are still being worn by the majority and many still practice the covid-19 safety protocols, many Ghanaians relaxed a bit too much and this has nearly cost us a lot. The news of a new variant of the virus struck us before we knew it. Thousands of Ghanaians are contracting it and this has forced the government to implement strict measures once again by banning social events and enforcing other policies. The general fear is that we may return to another period of restricted movements and lockdowns if the situation doesn’t improve in the coming weeks. The realization that we will only be safe when everyone is safe goes a long way to reiterate the fact that for now, we can only rely on strategies that help us prevent physical contacts and reduce the risks of contracting this deadly virus. Jumia, Africa’s leading ecommerce ecosystem examines ways in which Ghanaians should embrace ecommerce in the wake of the new delta variant.
According to UN trade and development experts UNCTAD, the e-commerce sector saw a “dramatic” rise in its share of all retail sales, from 16 per cent to 19 per cent in 2020.In addition to doing business online, many Ghanaians also rely on the internet more for news, health-related information and digital entertainment. Here are a few examples of how many Ghanaians have adapted to ecommerce in this era.
- Essential products – What happens when you really need to stay home or have limited movement because of the risk of physical contacts and infection? It was terrible and uncomfortable last year during the lockdowns and threatens to be even more serious if care is not taken. To reduce the risk of infections, many Ghanaians have switched to shopping for essential items online. Today, many Ghanaians buy their daily needs such as beverages, sanitary items, household items,home and kitchen supplies etc online. This has been emphasized by groceries becoming the topmost category where many consumers shop on online platforms such as Jumia. The regular vegetables, fruits and other grocery items are now purchased online and delivered fresh ensuring the safety of Ghanaians all over the country.
- Payments – In Ghana, cash has always been the preferred choice of payments. According to the World Bank researchers, Ghana remains a cash-based economy accounting for 98.7% of payments by volume while the main non-cash instrument continues to be cheques. However, in recent years, mobile money has gained popularity. As of January 2021, 38.9 percent of the population aged 15 years and older had a mobile money account in Ghana. The share of mobile money users increased over the previous three years. This has been highlighted by the need to utilize cashless transactions since cash is a very dangerous career of the virus. Aside mobile money, payments by debit cards specifically Visa and Mastercard have also gone up since the covid-19 virus spread in Ghana while many Ghanaians now pay their water / electricity bills as well as purchase airtime and subscribe for DSTV/GoTv through digital payment platforms like JumiaPay.
- Deliveries / Pick-up stations – Before today, almost every Ghanaian seller who needed to deliver items to consumers or even consumers who needed to pick up their items from sellers were limited by time, distance / geographical barriers and cost. The rise of covid-19 cases made the transfer of goods from sellers to consumers very difficult. With ecommerce, this challenge has been neutralized especially with the fear of movement, physical contacts and contracting the virus. Many ecommerce companies have today rolled out very robust logistics systems that allow highly trained delivery agents who observe the necessary safety protocols to make contactless deliveries to their consumers faster, conveniently and safely. Companies who also wish to deliver goods to other companies or large quantities of products to retailers also utilize ecommerce logistics platforms like Jumia Services. In addition to all of this, many pick up stations spread all over the countries make it possible for consumers to pick up their online orders from locations close to their homes. These pickups are often cheaper and pose less to no risks.
- On demand services – This arm of ecommerce is relatively new to a lot of people but has been very effective since the start of the pandemic. In a quest to stay safe, measures were put in place which included the closure of many restaurants and bars. This was a problem for many people who often visited bars for beverages and their favorite restaurants for meals. With ecommerce solutions being provided in this regard, consumers now sit in the comfort of their homes and offices ordering for their tasty local,continental and fast food meals. Affordable drinks and beverages are also available and they get delivered safely. With just a few clicks and after a few minutes, ecommerce companies such as JumiaFood are helping Ghanaians enjoy breakfast, lunch and even organizing family get-togethers. Life couldn’t be more simple and safe during such tough periods.
The evolution is not yet complete and more work needs to be done. At this moment, there is a general cry to stay safe and observe all the necessary precautions as the Delta variant begins to cause havoc in the country. Ecommerce is once again stepping forward as one of the best ways to get all the good things we need safely, affordably and conveniently. With advanced technology and innovation as well as an increase in internet and smartphone penetration, ecommerce promises to grow even bigger over the coming years.