Obinna Ekezie at Card Expo 2016

Why do people attend conferences?

Is it just to grab the next selfie to post on social media space or simply hobnob with a top business leader? Maybe not exactly.

But one thing is sure: conferences are meant to hand down key takeaways to participants – either by way of inspiring insights, proven business secrets or just networking with industry leaders.  Simply put, conferences are platforms for seamless knowledge exchange, experience sharing, mentoring and agenda setting.

Recently, some of the biggest players in the African ecommerce space gathered for the #CardExpo Africa 2016. So, why not grab some ice cold refreshment while I take you through some of the top insights from this summit?

#1. Tourism is the Next Big Thing

It is easier to become successful running a travel company today than floating an oil chain. This shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Now, come to think of it. Global oil glut has turned many oil-rich nations to beggars. The figures are not smiling either for oil firms. Yet, tourism is raking in a whopping 9.8% to the global GDP and has become the biggest employer of labour.  In 1990, only 17.4 million international tourists came to Africa. But that figure has quadrupled in less than 15 years to 65.3 million. Massive, you‘d say.

Elsewhere in South Africa, an entire economy breathes and prospers on tourism. Ranked 48th in the world and leading the way in Africa, the country is telling the entire continent why the focus must be shifted to building critical infrastructure that foster in-bound tourism and investments.

My take: if you are nursing a start-up idea today, online travel is a key sector you may need to consider. In case you are not sure of how massive your results can be, consider how Wakanow has changed the game in Africa in just eight years.

#2. Convenience is the New Normal

If there is anyone who understands and has succeeded pretty well with this insight, it sure would be the GMD/CEO of Africa’s leading online travel portal Wakanow, Mr. Obinna Ekezie. Take it or leave it, today’s consumers want business solutions that are convenient. And that is one nut Wakanow has cracked so well.

Customers want to search, choose, buy and pay for a product without having to meet some woman behind the counter. Nobody really has that luxury of time and patience these days. Create responsive platforms. Create convenient payment systems. Think mobile, and reach your customers on the go. After all, mobile penetration is expected to grow 20-fold in Africa within the next five years.

#3. Customers are not just the king, they need attention

Time and again we have been told that customer is king. That is a pretty boring cliché. Truth is today’s customers just don’t want to be recognized as kings, they want to be pampered with all the attention in the world they possibly can get.

To make it big in today’s ecommerce space, you require a round-the-clock customer management system manned by trained professionals. Train and retrain the staff who interfaces with your customers. Never forget that today it takes just 140 characters or less to ruin your company’s perception. So, customers’ needs and complaints need to be addressed very quickly before they degenerate into social media war. You don’t want that.

#4. Only the paranoid survive

The African ecommerce space is a bloody battlefield. While the old folks in the game are trying to gain a foothold of market share, many new players are emerging by the day – from the choked aisles of Lagos to the bursting corners of Johannesburg. Yet, many ecommerce start-ups have been swept aside – and many will still fail.

In today’s ecommerce space, nothing is guaranteed, except a steady disruption in markets. So, never assume you are invincible. Be your own trend-watcher. Follow the fast-changing consumer culture. Keep tab on your competitors. Be conversant with tech culture as it unfolds.

Don’t be told!


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