YNaija Analysis: 5 things ‘Made In Aba’ must do

On Monday, Sam Hart, an SSA to the Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, announced that MadeInAba.com.ng will go live on October 1. Many of us are old enough to remember when ‘Aba Made’ was used as an insult, but going by the reactions to his tweet, all this is about to change.

It is just as well, too. The Ariaria market is one of the largest in West Africa, but has for long seemed cut off from certain demographics in Nigeria. Putting their work online can broaden their popularity. Here are a few things that, if they get right, can open new markets for the industrious city.

Do a few things very well: There is no point trying to do everything. Simply being known as the go-to place for shoes and leather work in the country is enough for a start. If people know that they can get great shoes, belts, leather chairs and similar products from Aba significantly cheaper than they would elsewhere, they will make that association a permanent one.

Keep your promises: One reason people shy away from patronising e-commerce websites is the gap between what you see on a website and what eventually gets to you. If you promise A and deliver B, that trust is broken and goodwill is lost. Establishing a reputation for delivering on promises is priceless.

Don’t compromise on customer service: Far too many businesses in Nigeria have big ambitions without the customer service to match. In a time when word of mouth passes faster than ever, a few bad experiences tweeted by those who patronise Made In Aba initially is enough to turn people off, or at least make them hesitate before making a purchase. Attending to and resolving customer issues in a prompt manner is all-important.

Speed: It shouldn’t take a week or more for goods to be delivered like it happens on other e-commerce sites – which shall remain unnamed – with regularity. These products don’t come from Planet Mars. One of things that will make Made In Aba popular is that it should be more convenient to order something from there than to just enter a car and go get it yourself. Convenience is very important.

Pay attention to branding: Look and feel of the website, product photos, logos, and so on. This is a world ruled by images. The more attractive your website and product photos are; the more people are likely to come back. Beauty is also just more profitable in the end, full stop.

Coming as it does in an era of ‘Buy Naija to Grow the Naira’, Made In Aba has its foot in the door at least, but once it goes live, it needs to deliver. The patriotic fervour it will excite will not last very long, if it does not deliver on its promise. Here is hoping it does.

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