The sale of goods or services between businesses, utilizing any of the various online or electronic channels, referred to as B2B e-commerce, is on a steady rise in Nigeria. This rise, both in volume of transactions and number of operators, is prompted by the success recorded by the B2C e-commerce operations, especially during the covid-19 quarter in-place (lockdown) period. Just as in the B2C, the B2B e-commerce hinges its operations on digital processes to deliver on its promises to the other players in the e-commerce value chain.
The B2B e-commerce platforms deploy digital solutions in its operations to streamline their processes in order to achieve improved efficiency as well as an improved business experiences for the retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and distributors on their platforms.
While all platforms develop their digital solutions in their operations according to their needs and capabilities, B2B e-commerce players like Alerzo have distinguished themselves as leaders in the digitalization arena. Their digitization process, relying on superior data quality – collection and structuring – has enabled them achieve a level of automation in their operations in Nigeria. For instance, retailers on Alerzo’s platform can order products via the internet, short messaging service (SMS), voice and WhatsApp and have such products deliver them to their stores in less than four hours.
Additionally, Alerzo’s digital app, Alerzoshop, allows the retailers on its platform to buy their products at cheaper rates, enjoy huge discounts and have their orders delivered to them at no extra cost. The app has taken the Nigerian retailer to a whole new world of opportunities with a lifeline of numerous mouth-watering incentives. It also helps these retailers in inventory management, guaranteed product quality and time savings.
B2B e-commerce players also boost the profitability of retailers. One of the ways they do this is by taking the burden of logistics off the retailers on their platform. While retailers who are not on the platform pay the logistics costs of hiring a ‘carrier’, paying market exit fees, and getting public transport to carry their goods to their stores, Alerzo for example delivers the orders to the informal retailers on its platform at no cost.
Also, the company recently launched the Alerzopay – its cashless payment and lending platform – to provide informal retailers with working capital to keep their stores running and to drive financial inclusion. Additionally, the company advances POS terminals that run on the Alerzopay platform at no cost to interested retailers who want to act as agents.
Digitization of customer data such as order history and order status can substantially increase the customer’s satisfaction. Through digitization of orders, the B2B e-commerce platforms have made it possible to keep the customer in the know as to when his or her order will arrive.
Alerzo and its peers have gone along to digitize products information, customer order, stock to generate new insights for the manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and their businesses. Such in-depth analysis of data can unlock a huge potential for businesses that make use of them. These digital products also help manufacturers and distributors get feedback on consumer perception, product preferences etc.
Alerzo and other frontline B2B e-commerce platforms are also empowering manufacturers, distributors and retailers by digitising the value chain and enabling efficient factory-to-retail distribution for food and consumer goods companies. They facilitate faster and quicker inventory movement for FMCG companies to help bridge possible disruptions in the supply chain.
The rise of B2B e-commerce in Nigeria is going to gather momentum in the coming years, given the ease that comes with increased digitization of operations of the platforms as well as the increasing number of other players – manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers – that are coming on board the sector.