Discusses distribution network from how products enter to final destination, including reliability of distribution systems, distribution centers, ports, etc.
ECommerce is growing in Ghana. As elsewhere, the pandemic accelerated the adoption of eCommerce and delivery services. This includes the online purchase of restaurant and other takeout food, as well as the online purchase of consumer goods (beauty and health), clothes, and electronics.
Ghana has approximately 15 million internet users who are buying online every day. Leading local eCommerce platforms include Hubtel, Jumia, Plendify, Jiji, as well as Uber Eats and Bolt Food. Ghanaian customers also order goods from Amazon for delivery to U.S. locations that then use discount express couriers to ship goods to Ghana more cost effectively.
ECommerce in Ghana is supported by the robust, relatively affordable mobile data access provided by telecom operators MTN, AirtelTIGO, Glo, and Vodafone. (Additionally, T-Mobile plans with Simple Global offer unlimited free data and text as well as voice for a per minute fee with no roaming charges in Ghana). There are approximately 40 million mobile phone connections and six million active social media users. Many of these are young people between the ages of 16 and 35. About 79 percent of users online have a smart phone, and they spend an average of three hours online daily.
According to Hootsuite, social media ads, followed by television, are the top way consumers discover new brands in Ghana. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, in rank order, are the primary social media channels that local companies use to drive customers to company websites or to linked Shopify accounts.
B2B Sales: B2B eCommerce sales of industrial inputs or advanced machinery, for example, is underdeveloped in Ghana. Customers still purchase these goods primarily based on word-of-mouth or recommendations from professional contacts. Alibaba and AliExpress are used by some local companies, but concerns about scams on these platforms remain. U.S. companies that can employ effective search engine optimization so that their equipment or products can be found in Ghana may gain the attention of B2B buyers. (Some foreign competitors maintain dedicated sites with “Ghana” in the title for this purpose.) Further, Ghana is a very price sensitive market. Sites that can calculate shipping charges to Ghana will also help local companies to understand the full cost of the transaction, facilitating the sale. WhatsApp is a primary mode of communication. Providing WhatsApp or other free communication channels on websites so that Ghanaian buyers can ask questions about product specifications, for example, could be helpful to get an edge, as well.
In terms of digital payments, some local banks do offer classic credit cards to their clients, including Mastercard and Visa. However, mobile money and debit payments such as those offered by Emergent, TechHustle, Vodafone, and MTN, are more widely used by consumers. As a result, eCommerce payment platforms should allow for a wide range of payment options beyond just major credit cards. (PayPal is not an option in Ghana.) Recognizing that intra-Africa trade is likely to expand in the future, U.S. and local companies are starting to develop multi-market/intra-African eCommerce and payments platforms such as Mastercard’s DPO Store.
Policy and technology challenges: For eCommerce to be solidified, Ghana needs to develop a consumer protection framework that sets out the responsibilities of both buyers and sellers. Key challenges include last mile delivery and the verification of digital identities.