By Olaseni Durojaiye
The advent of social media which has, over time facilitated human desire to share our lives with others, also led to the evolution of electronic commerce, more commonly known as E-commerce.
Ever since the late 1970’s when the demonstration of the first online shopping system was done by Michael Aldrich, this form of trade that has condensed time and space has continued to grow in leaps and bounds.
Facilitated by the internet and drawing on technologies such as electronic funds transfer, online transaction processing, and supply chain management, amongst others, the trend has also caught on in Nigeria with increased internet penetration.
Whereas big players have emerged in the E-Commerce space in Nigeria, even leading to the creation of niche platforms, a key segment that has been overlooked until now is another evolving niche – Social E-Commerce.
Enter SWAG Marketplace, which has just been released on Mobile App, by Paragon Media Limited. Created by Marketing Communications expert, Charles Odibo, who has led the Public Relations and brand transformation of three banks – Standard Trust Bank (now UBA); Platinum/Bank PHB (now Keystone); and Fidelity Bank, he shares insights about SWAG Marketplace, which is also complemented by a fast-growing social network, SWAG.NG.
According to him, the SWAG platform consists of the social media, with online media for news, social interaction, and user contributions that facilitate buying and selling. The businesses on the e-commerce app, SWAG Marketplace, are embedded in a huge and fast-growing community thus giving the businesses huge market exposure. Moreover, the e-commerce sub-set is on Mobile App, thereby enhancing accessibility round the clock.
The concept of social E-commerce enables shoppers, members of a social community, to get advice from trusted individuals, find goods and services and then purchase them because the social networks that spread this advice have been found to validate purchase decisions and increase customer’s trust. Overall, a social e-commerce platform, which SWAG is pioneering in our clime encourages and facilitates engagement with brands; and provides information that users need not only for immediate purchase decisions, but to research and compare products.
SWAG Marketplace Mobile App, which has been released on Google play store for all android devices, offers the hottest deals in female fashion and accessories. The promoters of this trending social e-commerce platform recognize that social e-commerce, since its advent has had the greatest impact on the fashion industry.
Social media has played a huge role in promoting fashion brands, thereby facilitating sales. With SWAG Marketplace on mobile app, users can receive up to date style tips and fashion trends. Also, shop owners uploaded on SWAG can connect with shoppers at the point of purchase by giving them tips, recommendations, and offers, which can result in stronger customer loyalty.
SWAG Marketplace also thrives on the platform of a growing strong social community, which would be beneficial for forward-looking companies to develop partnerships with so that members of SWAG can engage with their products and narratives can also be woven around their services.
Mr. Odibo explains why it matters most: “As an interactive forum, if a business is identified with a strong community, what it does is that its customers are made to feel they are part of a special group, which reinforces their support for the brand and fuels resistance to rival brands.”
Speaking further, he shed more light on the primary factors that are fueling the growth of online communities like SWAG and why brands should tap into them.
According to Mr. Odibo, people participate in online communities for a variety of reasons – to find emotional support and encouragement; to explore ways to contribute to a common good; and to cultivate interests and skills, amongst others.
A community like swag exists to serve the people in it who are more often interested in the social links that they derive. Giving members of this community their own market place to buy and sell, is like having the world on their phones.
This, he believes is the business linkage for a forward-looking brand. A brand that associates with or identifies with a strong community will build loyalty, not necessarily by pushing or driving sales transactions but by helping members of the community meet their needs.
A brand can therefore, build fierce customer loyalty by seeking to understand the individual and social needs of members of a community and doing everything possible to support and engage them.
The key elements and features of a social commerce are embedded in SWAG, namely, content, community, commerce, connection, conversation, social proof, and authority.
Freshly-launched SWAG (community and marketplace) is a growing community of people who share similar or complementary values, likes and beliefs and are therefore more committed because they feel acceptance. What is therefore trending on SWAG is that groups tend to follow the same trends such that when one member introduces an idea or a product, it is accepted more readily to the benefit of the businesses uploaded on the marketplace app. Conversations are becoming markets.
SWAG is also programmed to accept social feedback and to show proof of transactions that are trending on the platform because this will create trust. This will be supported with user reviews of products to validate the quality of products on sale.
Social content will also continue to be central in driving the growth of social commerce because it helps to engage with customers and bring them back to the site, especially when they are meaningful and informative.
As an evolving industry, experts continue to identify the trends that will largely shape social commerce, which Mr. Odibo assures that SWAG will take cognizance of to deepen their knowledge of the market.
So, what does the future hold for SWAG? Mr. Odibo goes philosophical: : “I’d like to answer this question by painting a picture of my understanding of what those who will take the future should be doing today because swag is an enabler.
“Every brand, every product, every business, big or small, has to re-adapt to the future because from time to time the future is becoming or pointing the brand in different direction from the past. It doesn’t happen every day, but maybe every decade or so. For instance, if you look at a person’s pictures taken over a two-year time, you will not see much change, but if you look at a person’s pictures over a 10-year interval, you will see how the person has changed.
“This happens to brands, so brands have to re-adjust not to the past, but for the future. No brand wants to be a copy of yesterday, but to be a jumping point for tomorrow. The nation’s demographics show that the future is the youth. Nigerians between 16 and 35 years account for 40% of our population. 70% of our population is under 35 years.
“How do we appeal to them today and serve them with the tools that will shape our tomorrow? How can we enable them to make their dreams come true? Swag is an authentic route to the future that we seek.”