E-commerce in Nigeria is not all it’s cracked up to be

Despite media reports of Nigeria’s booming e-commerce market, online sales have been a challenge for the craft beer maker Bature Brewery.

“There is not as much e-commerce [in Nigeria] as people think,” says the company’s CEO and co-founder Kevin Conroy, adding that many local shoppers are frustrated with e-commerce platforms due to frequent payment failures, out-of-stock products, and long delivery times.

“I don’t think there is a huge trust in e-commerce and most people will order by phone or by WhatsApp to our sales reps when they’re looking to buy directly … A lot of our assumptions about e-commerce taking off proved not to work out,” he notes.

Read our full interview with Kevin Conroy: Nigeria’s craft beer pioneer eyes $65m empire

In a 2021 interview with How we made it in Africa, early-stage investor and entrepreneur Olumide Soyombo said he is hesitant to invest in the e-commerce industry. “E-commerce in Nigeria is one industry I generally run away from. I know a lot of dead bodies in that industry. If you look at the size of the market, e-commerce is still very small. The core infrastructure required for e-commerce to succeed is not yet in place; transport infrastructure, delivery costs and Nigeria’s inadequate addressing system are a few of the challenges facing the industry. Trust and education about e-commerce also have a way to go,” he explained.

“On a positive note, issues with e-commerce payments have largely been solved by the likes of Paystack and Flutterwave. Once the digital natives and Generation Z have the spending power, it will be good for e-commerce. Eventually, there will be an e-commerce winner but it will take a lot of money to get that company there,” Soyombo added.

Read our full interview with Olumide Soyombo: Early Paystack backer discusses investment opportunities in African tech start-ups