Without a doubt, the important elements that would likely increase e-commerce adoption in Nigeria include better internet infrastructure, rising purchasing power, and a tech-savvy youth population. Advanced technology tools and techniques would certainly aid e-commerce companies in building a strong tech portfolio in order to achieve a competitive edge. From a practical standpoint, understanding the effects of new technology in the e-commerce sector is very crucial, and to taste success in the hyper-competitive world of electronic commerce, it is essential to stay ahead of the curve. Today, I make an attempt to examine the disruptive emerging technologies and trends that will likely revolutionize the online shopping experience in Africa.

Emerging technologies are technical innovations that are currently in development but are anticipated to have a substantial impact on the economy and society within the next five years. Machine learning, nanotechnology, AI, mixed reality, and quantum mechanics, are a few of them. While some of these technologies are applicable to specific industries, the impact of others transcends business verticals.

These days, there are too many offers vying for the customer’s attention, and studies show that these customers highly appreciate businesses that provide them with a high degree of personalization and customization as opposed to those that treat them as part of a generic general mass. Implementing AI tools to create a personalized shopping experience for customers is no newcomer to the eCommerce space; the technology empowers e-commerce businesses to use cookies as well as big data techniques and queries to analyze customers’ profiles, historical purchase data, and product browsing history to optimize a tailored shopping experience via pop-ups and embedded advertising. Research shows that this is best done by leveraging multiple touchpoints and mediums, boosting cart size and user experience greatly.

Conversely, the recently released WhatsApp Business API has revealed incredible use-cases for eCommerce and SMEs, with start-ups like Verloop rolling out marketplace solutions that enable customers to complete their shopping from start to finish within the WhatsApp chat environment and allows payment gateway integrations at checkout as well as product listing with images and the “add to cart” function—this marks the emergence of the conversational commerce concept. This release is tipped to have a disruptive effect on e-Trade in Africa due to the wide adoption of chat-app’s within the region.

Although with its cons, the 1-click checkout feature, a tactic that has been trademarked and used by Amazon for many years, has proven to reduce order churn rates by providing a convenient order placing alternative to the “add to cart” button and eliminating repeat processes in the customer journey —the customer can proceed directly to checkout. Several embedded finance innovations have latched on to this breakthrough, with fintech like Klarna and Affirm nesting 1-click Buy-Now-Pay-Later options within the feature. Bolt CheckoutOS, Ourpass, and KlashaCheckout are interesting 1-click checkout solutions to look out for.

Today, AR and VR technologies are among the most in-demand B2C and B2B eCommerce website features, and an increasing number of online store owners are luring customers with these tools. AR, VR, and Mixed Reality (MR) technologies are all ready to provide customers with an immersive purchasing experience that ranges from digitally trying on and customizing garments like jerseys to seeing the same goods in other colours. Thanks to augmented reality technology, the quality and design of a product can be completely verified by consumers before they decide to buy it. Practically speaking, this benefits consumers while also lowering the order return rates.

A new digital age with the metaverse began in 2021 after Mark Zuckerberg chose to rebrand the Facebook group to Meta. The prospects presented by this 3D internet universe are limitless to a market where e-commerce is steadily increasing in market share. The idea behind the metaverse is to use non-fungible tokens (NFT), social commerce, augmented reality, and virtual reality to push the bounds of the physical world until the real and virtual worlds finally merge. The metaverse is currently only accessible to consumers through computers, augmented reality glasses, or virtual reality headsets. Users are recreated as mannequin-like figures (also known as avatars) on the digital platform, where they may explore virtual stores, attend concerts, have coffee with friends, and ride bikes in parks.

While omnichannel commerce is gradually starting to take hold, brands are sizing up the metaverse as the new frontier. Coca-Cola, Hyundai and Gucci are some of the early brands to make a transition into “the verse”— a concept predicted to be widely adopted by the growing Generation Alpha (kids ages 6 to 16 today).

Blockchain innovation, which was originally planned fundamentally for crypto-currency exchanges (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and so on) and other digital money-related purposes—explicitly as a public exchange record. Yet, its abilities and value have tracked down an expansion possibility in the eCommerce space, enabling time-stepped exchanges into unchanging computerized records to be carefully shared, empowering everybody with admittance to see all the data inside while not being able to change the subtleties—an important inclusion for supply-chain operations. Other potential purposes of blockchain innovation in eCommerce incorporates chargeback misrepresentation security and counteraction, streamlined and sped-up card instalments, and the decentralization of boundary exchange, among numerous others.

It is also worthy to mention Walmart, who is pioneering the infusion of blockchain technology possibilities with online shopping. The mega-retailer is experimenting with blockchain technology to track drone-delivered parcels in real-time and has also filed a patent for a “Smart Package” that offers diverse information, including origin, current location, environmental conditions, and more. In this vein, several De-fi (Decentralized finance) makeovers are predicted to happen to e-commerce in the coming years with the birth of innovative B2B commerce solutions around smart contracts and smart shopping.

Finally, to address issues with inventory management and tracking, a number of solutions utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT) and RFID technologies currently exist. The Kiva Robot, which enables warehouse inventory automation and management for Amazon, has also been developed by Amazon Robotics, allowing them to shorten their order fulfilment time to less than 30 minutes.

With news of global eCommerce giant, Amazon, moving in on the Nigerian and South African market in 2023, a lot of these emerging technologies are predicted to follow the coming. The big question here is what emerging technology would have a positive economic effect on the Nigerian market, considering the fact that doing business in Nigeria defies a lot of globally relevant permutations.


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