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COVID-19: Driving the adoption of online commerce by offline businesses for a profitable growth




The fact that Coronavirus has put the world on tailspin cannot be overemphasized. Every facet of life is affected. An event that has dictated the pace of the world for weeks will definitely leave its mark on time.  It is an open secret that the post-COVID-19 world will not be what it used to be. The crisis will end and we will return to a period of growth. A lot of things will likely change as a result of this pandemic. Going forward, the catchphrase present in every conversation is after this pandemic; what will be the new normal.

As the world considers how it can return from the torment inflicted by the virus, integral aspects of human activity that will be redefined are business, commerce and customer behaviour. These aspects will be greatly impacted by new trends.

Post Covid-19 era will likely be a period of boom for e-commerce globally and on the African continent, as more small and medium scale businesses will move online. Lockdown and restrictions during the pandemic have brought new customers onboard the e-commerce train. As guidelines became stricter, consumers stayed home and did their shopping online and some will most likely keep the trend going. In Africa, e-commerce platforms like Jumia, Konga, Jiji are likely to record more orders and patronage.

For instance, Jumia’s 2020 Q1 report indicates that the company thrived during the pandemic and is optimistic of a positive post Covid era as its losses begin to shrink. Big brands like Coca-cola and Reckitt Benkiser are already being proactive with strategic alliances for their products on e-commerce platforms like Jumia.  Global social media network, Facebook is also activating plans to leverage the post covid e-commerce boom by launching a shopping window for MSMEs on its platform.

Another trend that the pandemic will impose on business and customers will be the hygiene culture. Economic activities have been impeded for weeks globally and it appears COVID-19 won’t disappear. Governments around the world are gradually easing restrictions to revive economic activities. This implies that the world will have to learn how to live with the virus. Hence, one aspect of life customers will be more observant of is hygiene. Customers were concerned about cleanliness before and will be more concerned about it. Post pandemic, consumers will want to know that when they enter a store, for example, they are in a clean and safe environment; they will want a place where they can wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.

The implication of this is that businesses that prioritize hygiene measures and integrate sanitation with operations will gain customers’ trust and patronage. “The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in the first quarter of 2020 brought about a complex combination of health, economic and operational challenges. Our first priority was to help our employees, consumers and communities stay safe. On the operational side, we took prompt action to ensure business continuity and adjust our logistics to meet high standards of safety and hygiene,” said Jumia’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeremy Hodara. Initiatives like the Jumia Contactless Delivery service will gain more ground as well.

Also, mobile commerce culture will receive a boost post-COVID-19. According to Statista, mobile commerce is expected to account for 72.9% of all e-commerce by 2021. The numbers will definitely increase in the post Covid era as more customers become comfortable with the new options available on their smartphones.  In Africa, online retail platforms have been promoting the process. JumiaPay which is the fintech product of Africa’s leading e-commerce platform offers smart, convenient and secure ways for customers to pay for orders, do airtime top-up and pay your utility bills. The product also affords sellers on the platform more flexibility in getting their settlements and enables them to transfer money from their JumiaPay wallet to their bank account whenever they want.

From all indications, Covid-19 will leave behind a new business order and customer behaviour which will be driven by digital processes. Businesses that align their strategy to this new normal will thrive and leverage the window of growth opportunities opened up by the pandemic.


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