How e-commerce and digital platforms have changed the game for businesses through the pandemic

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Karabo Nkolanyane

THE world is evolving, and with Covid-19, all of us (developing countries) were forced to change and adapt. So did most businesses. Local demand and consumption have changed, just as has the market influence.

The pandemic has changed how we work, changed consumer’s shopping habits, causing the e-commerce to ramp up and driving greater use of remote payments.

As a result, most small businesses had to close shop and work remotely, exploring the handyman/location-based service platforms. These are portals that link individuals who are looking for service providers to carry out odd jobs or link professionals who are seeking to offer such jobs to customers.

How they work

Most of these platforms have the same workflow and features. According to Mohamed Natheem (2020), customers log in to the app/platforms by providing necessary information, following by adding their exact location as prompted by the app.

The customer will then select the type of services needed, the date and time of service. Then the app will display the accurate or estimated fare for such services, while also showing professionals in that field. If the said customer is satisfied with the pricing, he or she can proceed to further requesting the service.

Because of these platforms, some customers do not even necessarily have to meet with service provider for services to be delivered as all communication and payments are done digitally, offering convenience to both business owners and their customers.

Most of the Basotho population is familiar with and has been making payments digitally, though only a few know of handyman/location-based service platforms, with one of the platforms being ‘Uber’ from the United States, operating in multiple countries among them South Africa.

Due to the lack of such platforms in Lesotho, most people rely on social media to get service providers to help them with their needs, while service providers post their jobs or products on these platforms. Both these parties contact each other on the very same social media platforms and exchange contact details or even sometimes make agreements through such platforms. This may look and sound easy and time efficient, but the downside of making such deals on social media is that both the service provider and the potential customer are more likely to get untrustworthy people or expose themselves to danger, as such people are not verified.

Most of the Basotho population may be late majority or even laggards, but most of the small and informal businesses have started engaging in e-commerce, as they sell on the likes of Facebook and Instagram. This brings hope that with time, all will have joined in and signed their businesses on location-based platforms to ease shopping and make payments seamless.

Additional information from Natheem, M 2020, 5 Best on -demand handyman Apps of 2021, https://libguides.scu.edu.au/harvard/websites

Karabo Nkolanyane is the Marketing Officer at Chaperone Ltd. Views expressed in this article are her own.

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