Business-to-business (B2B), also called B-to-B, is a form of transaction between businesses, such as one involving a manufacturer and wholesaler, or a wholesaler and a retailer. Business-to-business stands in contrast to business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-government (B2G) transactions.
While B2B ecommerce has reached amazing heights in Europe, Asia and America, Africa has only begun to show impressive catching up moves, which when studied is nothing short of spectacular and promising of a bright future for the ecommerce ecosystem.
Known for the presence of vast opportunities, African domiciled businesses must overcome challenges around infrastructure, logistics and financial inclusion to sustain the stride.
Demand and supply side dynamics
On the demand side, consumers are shifting to online commerce as mobile connectivity increases. Covid-19 has accelerated that trend and increased interest in contactless transactions.
More than 30 per cent of consumers surveyed in Nigeria and Kenya said they are shopping online more frequently amid the pandemic. In South Africa, where e-commerce sales were forecast to more than double in 2020, 64 per cent of consumers made their first online grocery purchase and 53 percent bought goods from an online pharmacy for the first time.
On the supply side, we are seeing the emergence of technologically enabled business ecosystems—linked through digitally based platforms that make it easier for them to collaborate dynamically with other enterprises and remove much of the friction involved in joint ventures and other cross-boundary collaborations.
A wave of innovation
Across the continent, there is considerable innovation taking place at the private and public level.
Sokowatch, which has a network of over 16,000 shops and kiosks across nine cities in East Africa, reported a surge in new shop partners after they offered tech-enabled same-day deliveries. In Nigeria, agritech company FarmCrowdy launched an e-commerce platform that enables users to buy fresh foods directly from farmers. The platform processed 3,000 orders in the first 90 days.
Cellulant, is another Pan-African Fintech company that powers a digital payments platform for businesses and their consumers. The company uses technology to connect people and their resources, making it easier to do business across Africa.
Today, Cellulant has an office presence in 18 African countries with a payments platform connecting thousands of businesses with 154 payment options across 35 countries. The platform powers payments for 220M consumers on a single inclusive network allowing for interoperability across Africa.
Fuel management and payment solutions specialists Payment24 recently launched a new module in their comprehensive solutions suite, bringing contactless, cardless and secure fuel payments to market.
The FastLane system uses cameras and artificial intelligence to detect a vehicle’s registration number, make, model, colour and type as it drives into the refuelling station. This data is sent to the Payment24 cloud, and if the vehicle is registered in the system, refuelling could be pre-authorised or a push notification can be sent to the FastLane companion app for driver verification and authorisation. The pump will release the fuel allocation and payment will be deducted automatically, with a receipt sent via the app.
Since its launch in 2019, Kwik Delivery has firmly established itself as an enabler of digital transformation for merchants in Nigeria, creating strong value-added SaaS services critical to the deployment and growth of e-commerce. Kwik Delivery is the trading name of Africa Delivery Technologies SAS and the Kwik Delivery mobile app is available on iOS and Android.
Kwik Delivery has kept moving the goal post with recent strings of new developments rolling out every now and then – from constant system upgrades to setting a new industry standard with its cutting-edge free e-commerce plugins – and it seems to get only better; the leading delivery platform has just been made bigger, better isothermal delivery bags available to its bike delivery partners across Lagos.
Notably as well, some central banks of West African States, have implemented measures to cut the transaction costs of electronic payments, while the adoption of the pan-African payment and settlement system as part of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a major step towards the integration of digital financial services.
However, at the regulatory level, much needs to be done. Currently, only 20 of 54 African nations have enacted online consumer protection and data management laws,17 while there is also an urgent need for policies to enable cross-border commerce. Some nations are discussing taxation of mobile money users, which could limit their growth.
Problems like these account for the fact that e-commerce sales still represent just 1 per cent of all sales in Africa, compared with almost a quarter in China. While the pandemic triggered social changes that favour e-commerce, businesses still require much higher levels of mainstream consumer adoption and retention to build viable businesses.