Nigeria’s Retailers are Using WhatsApp to Reach More Buyers and Navigate Inflation

  • Nigerian retailers are turning to WhatsApp as a cost-effective and accessible way to promote their businesses and reach potential customers beyond their localities.
  • Inflation in Nigeria has caused small businesses to struggle, and retailers are using WhatsApp to adapt and overcome challenges by leveraging its features for marketing and sales.
  • Examples of successful businesses, such as computer sales and book selling, illustrate how WhatsApp has enabled them to make sales to customers all over Nigeria, showcasing the potential of technology to drive business growth in the face of economic challenges.

Whatsapp is a social media platform accessible to users all over the world. It is currently the most popular, with over 2 billion monthly users. Perhaps its popularity is tied to its ease of use and easy access for anyone using a smartphone.

In emerging markets like Nigeria, Whatsapp is becoming more than just a messenger for chatting with friends and family. Many businesses now use it to promote their offers and reach more customers.

Inflation is killing small businesses.

According to Nigeria’s Bureau for Statistics, the country’s inflation has risen from 21.34 percent in December 2022 to 21.82 percent as of February 2023. Even more disturbing is the fact that the number has increased slowly from 9.01% in 2015.

Small businesses have borne the brunt of this inflation, with many of them getting pushed to the brink. The increasing cost of production makes it difficult for them to thrive, and many have closed down as a result.

Those that will survive the hardship have to adapt, and that’s what some retail traders are doing. As inflation causes prices to surge, there are not many Nigerians that can afford anything, ranging from food to recreation.

As a result, retailers can no longer rely on customers in their localities buying from them. They are therefore exploring new ways to reach potential customers beyond their physical locations.

The most popular and affordable way to do this now is through the use of WhatsApp. The app, popularly known for keeping in touch with friends, is now a viable marketing option through which traders can make more sales.

By uploading pictures of their merchandise, they can reach their friends and friends of friends who use the app. That way, they can reach hundreds of potential buyers without knowing them personally.

WhatsApp is helping businesses thrive.

In Nigeria, there is no restriction on who can use WhatsApp to reach customers. Anyone selling anything can use the app to promote their business. This includes those selling books, shoes, and clothes, as well as computers and computer accessories.

Emeka has been using WhatsApp to promote his computer sales business for six years now. For him, the app has helped him to sell goods worth millions of naira during this time.

“Even today, I made three sales online,” he said.

Of course, some of the buyers don’t live in Jos, where Emeka is based. They only learned about his business and made a purchase through WhatsApp.

Ola, a book seller in Abuja, has also benefited immensely from the use of Whatsapp. He has been using the app to promote his business for three years and has made a lot of sales, just like Emeka.

“Some of the people don’t even know in which part of Nigeria I live. The business is strictly on Whatsapp,” Ola said. For Ola, the customer just needs to show interest, indicate which books they like, and pay. He then ships the book(s) to any part of the country.

These are just a few examples of small business owners using WhatsApp to sell. Indeed, hardship in Africa’s most populous country is pushing citizens to explore technology to their advantage.

Main Photo: Lagos, Nigeria By Baragew - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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