Africa’s Path to “Zero-Click Ordering”

Africa’s Path to “Zero-Click Ordering”

Something interesting is happening. A new age of electronic commerce is evolving, and it is going to be exciting for African entrepreneurs. It is very possible that we can grow digital sales despite digital illiteracy in the continent. In other words, we do not need the correlation of improved digital literary rates for digital commerce to happen across rural villages.  Today, digital entrepreneurs are losing sales because most of our people are not necessarily good in online purchase.

I have a case study: buying my new book takes a very simple process, we thought. But it seems we are wrong. For some people, it is not that easy to read through a book content, click a button to add to a cart, verify the cart content, and make a payment. It was laborious!

But the process we have mirrors what Konga, Jumia and other digital companies follow. While Amazon has a one-click ordering process, the customer must have setup payment and logged in before beginning that process. So, if you do not discount those early preparations, one-click ordering by Amazon is not really one step. No one needs to be logged in to read a free blog, so the first time to pay for the book is the very first moment the person needs to create an account in this blog.

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Most of our readers are techies and geeks. But there is no doubt that Woo Commerce which we use in Tekedia to collect payment is non-optimal. Some customers prefer to handle the registration and payment manually. That is a big concern to me because if our readers – very brilliant people – are experiencing this level of friction with Woo Commerce, then there is a problem.

Interestingly, going deeper to the root cause of this issue, you will notice a factor. What happens is that naturally people do not have time to read everything on their screens. We prefer to talk. For most digital orders, following the steps will remove any problem, but you are assuming that customers will read through. Personally, I do not read all; I just click through, sometimes. So, solutions have to be built with those assumptions.

For me, the very fact that potential clients are having frictions means the system is non-optimal. It has nothing to do with the customer. The system must evolve to eliminate the friction.

I need a way that will simplify my customer’s experience. I think we need “zero-click ordering” so that anyone that wants to order will not have any single reason to wait. I see that coming from voice control or voice ordering.  Alexa has it already but that is for Amazon.

Voice ordering is getting very popular in America. Amazon is leading in that space. This is designed to help Walmart catch-up with Amazon. It will also help Google build new services in this area. Finding that leg into the e-commerce and grocery will be very strategic in its capacity to compete against Amazon in the broad technology arena. Above all, many will buy Google  Home, partly because of this deal, and that is good for Google.

For the whole world and especially the developing regions like Africa, Google has a template through Google Tez. It is the path to the next billion customers. This is a huge product that will change many things.

According to TechCrunch, Google has a product named Tez that can allow customers to make payments via audio. Period, you talk and the transaction goes through. Where are they testing it? India. It has the same demographics in terms of literacy rate as most parts of Africa. […]

I expect African developers and entrepreneurs to position themselves for this emerging opportunity. They have to find ways to build on top of Tez which will be easier since Google has provided the core elements. Yet, we also have to find ways to manage the accents and our spoken English flavor. There are many opportunities in this area and people have to get excited and begin to explore. I expect banks to begin to explore solutions in this space. Agency banking in Africa and indeed Nigeria will be anchored by voice computing. Google Tez can make that moment happen

What I Need

If you have not gotten the idea, Africa will need a solution that will enable people to make orders with minimal friction, possibly through voice (yes zero-click ordering), online. That will fix many challenges. You will make more sales when people talk than click. Because we like to talk, ordering has to move to the audio universe.

Some pizza companies have zero-click ordering via smile-to-pay where just smiling executes payment and orders a pizza via mobile devices. For others, it is just as easy as launching an app.

Zero-click ordering is as easy as it sounds. Download the app and link it to a Domino’s Pizza Profile. When the new app is opened, the saved Easy Order is automatically re-ordered without a single tap, swipe or click. Customers will see a 10-second countdown timer before the order is placed (giving consumers a chance to stop their order) and voila!

Note: Nigeria’s former minister of agriculture and now the President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, received the World Food Prize for mobilizing agriculture in Nigeria through innovation anchored on mobile technology. He redesigned Nigeria’s agriculture with mobile wallet and other elements. Yet, he executed this turnaround through text-based technologies.

Now, imagine what will happen if “voice agriculture” can be linked to some of the systems in Nigerian agriculture which Dr Adesina and his team pioneered. With voice, farmers can execute contracts through their mobiles devices and records archived in the cloud. They do this with no interference to their farming processes.

All Together

As the voice operating world evolves, voice ordering will emerge and that is going to benefit places like Africa. The one-click ordering will help many businesses improve sales because what we have today can be extremely time-wasting in the age where young people do not have time. I am asking our entrepreneurs who have experiences in voice technology to key into this area because they will have natural advantages over companies like Google through localization and differentiation by mitigating algorithmic bias arising from accent and English flavors. By thinking of commerce, over just dissemination of information, we can solve a market problem that will end up improving the wellbeing of our people.

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