Opinion

Why are Nigerian Instagram sellers afraid of return policy?

By Rasheed Opeyemi

Instagram is unarguably one of the platforms where lots of Nigerian sellers and buyers transact despite it being a photo-sharing app.

A lot of Nigerian influencers are comfortable with entertaining their fans without requesting anything in return because they are sure brands and sellers will surely knock at their door for sponsored posts or promotions.

However, as much as this platform offers widening opportunities for sellers without the need for a website, most stories of What I Ordered vs What I Got, emanated here.

A quick clarification, even though the headline of this article questions if these sellers are afraid of return policy, they indeed have one.

It is not unusual to find sellers on Instagram stating on their bio, No Refund. The question is, why are these sellers scared of customers returning their acclaimed high-quality products?

Why no refund when you can state conditions that qualify buyers for one. Do they have something to hide? Or just a normal trend amidst these sellers.

In a survey conducted by Jeugmark, an online store where buyers can purchase handmade products made by Nigerian youths, more than 40 per cent of respondents said they were scared of buying anything online because of the fear of “item not as described”.

The survey question asked; “Which of these are you scared of, shopping online in Nigeria?” They were given four options thus:

  • Item not as described
  • Delivery cost
  • Card fraud
  • A & B

According to Jeugmark, 794 internet users responded to the survey. Out of the 794, 40.3 per cent chose A (Item not as described); 9.6 per cent chose B (Delivery Cost); 23.9 per cent picked C (Card Fraud); while 26.2 per cent chose D (Item not as described & Delivery Cost).

Deducing from the survey, the dishonesty of some sellers have haemorrhaged the trust and confidence of online shoppers in Nigeria.

In a follow-up survey, where internet users were asked which they prefer: Shopping on social media Vs Shopping on reputable websites, the respondents prefer the latter.

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Of the internet users who responded to the poll, 64.4 per cent claimed they trust shopping on websites than social media platforms like Instagram. While 21 per cent said they are most comfortable shopping on social media platforms.

The reason for this is not far fetched. In a follow-up survey conducted by the marketplace, Nigerian internet users revealed they are most scared of receiving an item different from the one advertised by a seller. This discouraged most of these potential buyers from buying anything online.

Instagram sellers could have tapped into this kind of market by giving assurance with a promise of a refund.

However, during a conversation with some of these sellers, they raised reasonable points.

A crochet seller noted she doesn’t operate a refund policy because of some dishonest buyers who just want to return an item for the sake of it, even when there is no error with the delivery.

Another said she is a small business owner and did not have enough cash to bankroll making orders without the buyers paying first.

As much as these sellers have valid points for their decisions, it is also important to note that Nigerians are still warming up to the idea of internet shopping.

To tackle the menace of buyers returning orders for no justifiable reason, it can be recommended that these Instagram sellers make use of websites they can redirect their customers. Such a website could then act as an escrow in the sense that the marketplace receives payment from the seller and release it immediately after the buyer confirms receipt of order and satisfaction.

**Rasheed Opeyemi is an e-commerce content writer who is based in Lagos.

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