By Ayomide Oriade
In every sphere of human endeavor, the year 2020 alone has served up events and happenings that would have conveniently filled for three or four years combined. On a global scale, Covid-19 brought economic activities to a halt for weeks. Even the strongest economies of the world are not left out.
The emerging post covid era is proving to be survival of the fittest. The effect on businesses has been dire, especially for SMEs. Many small businesses could not survive the lockdown. Those who managed to scale through are still picking up the pieces. Consumers are also feeling the brunt. Many people lost their jobs to the pandemic, while many have had their income slashed by employers as part of cost-cutting measures.
Consequently, customers have become more frugal. There’s very little to go around, everyone wants the best deal on all spending, every kobo saved is like a new earning. Hence, essentials take priority on customers’ shopping list; and this is not helping matters for small businesses. However, smart small business owners have come to terms with the present realities and are aware that the best way to have a share of customers’ pockets is to offer them an avenue to spend less for more. They leverage platforms, big shopping events and campaigns to reach more customers and in turn make more sales. One of such effective platforms is the Black Friday sales which has become a global phenomenon.
Globally, Black Friday is known as the biggest shopping event of the year. The actual origin was from the 1950’s when Philadelphia law enforcement officers used the term to describe the chaos that ensued when suburban shoppers and tourists flooded the city on the day after Thanksgiving. In turn, the city was turned into a traffic nightmare for just that day which made the name stick. Some call it the unofficial Christmas, as it has been reserved for the month of November. Over time, Black Friday has evolved to become the day when retailers delight their customers with some of the best mouth-watering discounts on products and sellers smile to the bank with sales proceeds. For instance, in 2019, popular Chinese retailer Alibaba (AliExpress) recorded $38.37 billion in gross merchandise volume and 1.29 billion in delivery orders at the end of its Black Friday sales.
On the home front, it is a period when ecommerce platforms such as Jumia, Konga and the likes partners with global brands and SMEs to thrill customers with products at discounted prices. It is also an avenue for most small businesses to close the revenue gap created by the COVID-19 lockdown. “The Black Friday campaign has been a success year-on-year. As it has always been, this year’s campaign will focus on providing support for MSMEs, seeing that it’s been a rather tough year for a lot of businesses.
“This will be a great opportunity to recoup sales that may have run low due to the lockdown brought on by the global pandemic. We know customers are always on the lookout for the best deals and as such, there will be a significant increase in inventory across all product categories, flash sales on top SKUs. So It is also an avenue to give back to consumers by offering them amazing and cost saving deals,” said Jumia Nigeria CEO, Massimiliano Spalazzi during the Jumia Sellers Conference held recently. According to him, Jumia in partnership with thousands of sellers and brands on its platform will offer consumers a wide assortment of products ranging from groceries, electronics, home items; and special deals such as flash sales and treasure hunts.
Black Friday in Nigeria has a track record of being an assembly of brands and products. In 2018, there were more than 10,000 small businesses on the Jumia platform for Black Friday. In 2019 this figure increased to more than 12,000 with over 10 million products on sale. There were also commensurate figures of sales.
For once, we’ve had a year in which everyone had the same problem. We were all restricted; we were all scared of a common enemy, we were being forced to take the same preventive measures, everyone has had their income affected in one way or the other, and we can all agree that we can’t wait for the year to roll out. But be that as it may, the coming Black Friday is an ample opportunity for the SME community to cover some lost grounds on sales and for customers to buy more for less by taking advantage of best deals in the remaining weeks of the year. Don’t be left out.