Black Friday season has come to an end. While a lot of analysts expected fewer people to take part in this year’s Black Friday deal hunt due to the financial restraints occasioned by the pandemic, it didn’t deter big stores and gadget producers like Amazon, Jumia, Oraimo, OPPO, PS etc from serving tempting Black Friday deals to the public.
But away from these big eCommerce players, small and micro businesses venturing into the social media marketplace also latched on to the essence of the season to offer discounts on their wares and commodities. This is especially true for social media vendors who have caught the Black Friday fever and have literally painted social media with their deals.
According to Statista, Nigeria’s eCommerce sector is expected to rake in a revenue of $4.9 billion by the end of 2020. Projected at a 48% rise Year-on-Year, this means the sector made a revenue of about $2.5 billion in 2019 (approximately N875 billion).
In the same year (2019), the top 10 eCommerce companies in Nigeria earned a combined $505.5 million (N176.9 billion). Thus, if the ten biggest eCommerce companies in Nigeria could manage less than N200 billion of N875 billion raked in by the sector in 2019, that leaves more than N600 billion revenue, an overwhelming majority, being raked in by the multitude of smaller players.
There are more than 37 million MSME’s in Nigeria per the Ministry of Trade and you can trust that a significant amount of them are selling their businesses online and on social media. Thus, it isn’t hard to see that together, the informal online vendors make up a substantial part of that sector. Alone they might be small and insignificant, but together they would quickly overwhelm the bigger players.
While their Black Friday announcements may not have been as fanciful and as loud as the more illustrious and bigger eCommerce competitors, they definitely did pack some punch. But how hard did they really hit? How did social media vendors fair with Black Friday Deals?
I spoke with Damilola, Founder of DeeShoeGirl and a social media vendor who offered as much as 30% discount on her bespoke handmade footwear. For her, the Black Friday sales went well enough.
“I’d say people really responded. I gave out 30% discount on selected items. I posted some of my products then ask my customers to select more than one items to get the discount.”Damilola, Founder DeeShoeGirl
Offering Black Friday Deals used to be the prerogative of the big eCommerce players and as such is a relatively recent experience for social media vendors. Just like Damilola, 2020 was the first Black Friday involvement for many of them. Of course, a lot of it could be attributed to the very slow year occasioned by the pandemic and the rush by businesses and organisations to make sales before the year runs out.
One could argue that this negates the essence of Black Friday which is supposed to be when stores mainly give out commodities that have spent too much shelve time in their stores. While the big guys like Jumia and Konga could afford this kind of giveaways, there’s only so much that social media vendors can afford to give away.
They, however, scale this hurdle by offering discounts when buyers purchase more than one item, as against single items. But even then, there’s still some loss to be incurred. What then is the satisfaction for social media vendors? For Damilola, it comes down to the joy of selling more products, attracting more people to her platform and of course, boosting her client base and improving her prospects for future sales.
“First, I get to sell more products,” Damilola tells me. “For instance, if someone is to buy only one pair of shoes, because of the discount, they get to buy more. Secondly, I get new customers. People that patronized me because of the sales tend to patronize again when they see my new designs.”
The challenges social media vendors face during the Black Friday sales appear to be pretty much the same problems that come with eCommerce; getting products ready on time and the problem of delivery. The only difference is they have more customers breathing down their necks than before, all thanks to the influx which offering discounts always bring.
And because their businesses basically revolve around social media, vendors find themselves courting social media call outs without even knowing it. This could be very bad for business and it is what forces them to want to deliver on time or provide acceptable reasons why they couldn’t.
“Customers can be impatient. They wanted their footwear as quickly as possible even after communicating the process to them. I was able to meet up with delivery even though I had to work for more hours. Next time, I’d try as must as possible to ensure they are aware that production might take a little longer than usual because of the ongoing sales.
The 2020 Black Friday may not be the most engaging in terms of participation and sales, but it certainly has been a watershed especially for social media vendors. Many of them are already looking forward to next year with hopes that correcting the little mistakes of this year would put them in a good position to make future ones a resounding success.
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