6 ways E-commerce Platforms In Africa Can Benefit From Artificial Intelligence (AI)


Africa has one of the most digitally connected populations on the planet, with 400 million internet users, and that’s the reason e-commerce platforms generate more revenue.

The e-commerce businesses in Africa continue to grow with an estimated $25 billion annual transactions. Not only does it provide limitless wealth, it is also deeply competitive. Online retailers now must be on the edge to stay relevant.

The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) has made competing in this crowded marketplace possible — even for small e-commerce businesses and indeed, 5G is definitely going to revolutionize the internet as we know it. 

E-Commerce business in Africa can take advantage of AI through;

1. Data mining/Social listening

The social media provides information on what customers are asking for, it helps us to gain insight into trend, keyword search, rankings and consequently help us strategize. Data mining is key, but third party protection is needed to guard against theft. This data can then be condensed into actionable feedback to improve the customer experience and the brand’s reach.

2. Predictive marketing

Predictive marketing is a marketing technique that involves using data analytics to determine which marketing strategies and actions have the highest probability of succeeding.

There are tools like Weka, KNIME, and MatLab that can be used to analyse consumer data and optimize eCommerce sites to provide targeted marketing.

Each consumer sees what they want to see — how they want to see it — and when they want to see it. The more customer data gathered, the better the optimization will be for that customer. This is achieved with the aid of artificial intelligence.

3. Product personalization

With so many companies and products vying for attention, consumers gravitate towards those sites that are personalized to them. 

Personalization is taking over how we buy.

By utilizing information on customers that is widely available through their online presence, businesses can provide personalised ads, make relevant recommendations, and craft specific content for them.

This would not be possible without the power of AI to sift through the data.

4. Customer service

By next year (2020), 80% of all customer interactions will be handled by AI. This is because Chatbots are fast becoming an indispensable tool in customer service as a replacement to call centres, they are significantly cheaper and more efficient.

Chatbots can be integrated into shopping carts, online support, and order processes. 

When it comes to a chatbot. Mark Zuckerberg said in 2018 at an F8 Conference;

“Facebook has seen good momentum for messenger business with more than 300,000 business bots and 8 billion messages exchanged between them and users.”

He went ahead and cited an example of United Bank for Africa’s Leo. A chatbot that “enables customers to make use of their social media accounts to carry out key banking transactions.”

“People are now spending more time in messaging apps than in social media and that is a huge turning point. Messaging apps are the platforms of the future and bots will be how their users access all sorts of services.” 

— Peter Rojas, Entrepreneur in Residence at Betaworks

So whether you are in a shopping mood, hungry or planning a trip, you can use the Jumia Bot. The experience is just like you are talking with a Jumia customer service agent.

Nuru, a chatbot to “meet the needs of people in Kenya and Ghana.” This includes “searching for seasonal jobs”, calculating “current market prices” as well as “daily tips on how to live a healthier life”.

South African-based BotsZa also has two bots Keirabot & Haziebot. The company says that it provides solutions in hotel reservations, flight booking, e-commerce, banking, finance, and insurance, as well as customer care services.

In Uganda, a group of entrepreneurs developed Panya. The chatbot worked for both Facebook messenger and Telegram. It allowed one to “order an Uber, search for jobs, do their shopping” as well as “receive the news”.

5. Allows businesses to be localised

No matter where an e-commerce business is based, mining location-based intelligence from customer data allows them to appear local.

By offering location-based offers, location-specific advertising, and predicting locational trends, local customers can raise the efforts of businesses in their own towns.

This extra level of personalization significantly impacts the utility of a site for users by prioritizing offerings that appear unique to their area.

6. Efficient data analysis

No human team has the capacity or time to accurately and thoroughly record, analyze, and digest the volume of data available from potential customers all over the world. E-commerce businesses that rely on user-driven feedback are falling behind those that use AI to gather and use information.