VConnect’s expansion to buoy Nigeria’s e-commerce sector
The advent and rapid penetration of the internet in Nigeria has given rise to several economic opportunities. Owing to its population, Nigeria has the largest internet market in Africa dwarfing its closest contenders; Egypt, South Africa, Kenya and Morocco.
Internet penetration in Nigeria is estimated to be over 38% and is still expected to rise. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says the number of internet users in the country increased to 83,362,814 as at February 2015. There are over 138 million mobile connections in Nigeria.
A few years ago, Nigeria embraced e-commerce. Many other developing African countries have embraced the digital revolution and are increasingly using the Internet to purchase goods and services in diverse markets. Nigeria’s e-commerce market has a potential worth of $13 billion with about 300,000 online orders currently being made on a daily basis. The country’s increasing population and the growth of internet and smartphone penetration have been a catalyst for the rapid evolution of the sector.
According to online researcher, emarketer, while e-commerce across the rest of the world is growing at 16.8 per cent, Africa’s e-commerce space is growing at a rate of 25.8 per cent – making it the fastest growing in the world. Nigeria’s e-commerce market is developing rapidly, with an estimated growth rate of 25 percent annually.
The vast opportunities in the Nigerian e-commerce industry have seen the emergence of several e-commerce players looking to make a mark in the industry. One of such companies making laudable inroads in the e-commerce sector is VConnect.com, an online start-up featured on Forbes as one of the hottest start-ups in Africa.
Founded in 2010, the company is renowned for revolutionizing the information services industry in Nigeria with its provision of accurate information about various products, services and companies in Nigeria. With over 950,000 businesses listed on its website, VConnect is Nigeria’s largest online business directory and local search engine.
In line with its objectives to provide Nigerians with excellent online services, the company recently expanded its services to include a deals site, Deals.vconnect.com which offers millions of buyers various goods and services at unbelievable discount prices. Deals.vconnect.com is a business deals site on VConnect’s platform which boasts of an easier, faster, and better way to have access to various discounted goods and services with no hassle. The site also provides a much needed platform for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises to showcase their products and services to millions of buyers.
This expansion puts the company as one to watch out for in the thriving online commerce industry. The expansion also heralded a new and more exciting rebranding exercise that saw the company change its logo and brand colours to orange which reflects its vision to continuously provide Nigerians excellent online services.
Part of the company’s vision is to empower SME’s in Nigeria by providing them with innovative online marketplace solutions to aid long-term growth.
At a recent one-day forum in Lagos tagged ‘EMPOWER’ organized by VConnect for select business owners, General Manager, VConnect Nigeria, Mr. Deepankar Rustagi stressed that there was a need for businesses especially SME’s to leverage e-commerce solutions to grow and improve their business outputs. Deepankar pointed out that technology allows SMEs to increase their productivity and have access to markets which they wouldn’t have had without putting their business on the Internet.
Mr. Deepankar also stated that VConnect’s long term vision is to connect buyers and suppliers; providing convenience to buyers and growth to suppliers while boosting the Nigerian economy. He also stressed that businesses can leverage the VConnect marketplace platform to increase visibility and sales. He says, “Our marketplace platform is designed to enable businesses to gain more visibility and sell to a wider range of audience by unleashing their online marketing potential what sets VConnect apart is our relationship with our suppliers and the fact that we’re a pure marketplace empowering local businesses, and not competing with them”.
While stressing VConnect’s readiness to support SMEs in the country with ICT solutions to grow their business, Mr. Deepankar urged businesses to embrace the integration of ICT into their business models by leveraging e-commerce and e-marketing solutions to stimulate growth.
He said, “Local businesses are our major stakeholders. To grow these businesses in line with the VConnect vision, we need to empower them with the correct tools. The VConnect ‘EMPOWER’ initiative focuses on creating an interactive environment for us to communicate with young businesses together and provide them with beneficial information”.
“Our strategy is not only for sales of products but also for the companies or manufacturers to be known for further networking. We designed this platform not only for digital marketing purposes but also for physical market interaction as this is where the future lies. Through our multi-pronged strategy, we hope to proliferate ICT adoption and meaningfully enhance the operations of our local SMEs,”
Commenting on the increase of mobile penetration in Nigeria and Africa Mr. Deepankar says, “We believe that mobile penetration is the key to the growth of e-commerce. As more people have access to the internet, more people will be able to shop online”.