Have you ever been swindled, cheated or taken advantage of when shopping online in Nigeria? If you have not I’m sure you know someone – a family or friend this has happened to directly or indirectly.
And I must say it’s a horrifying experience.
This did not happen to me directly because I’ve never loved shopping online only until now but it happened to my mum many years ago when online malls in Nigeria just began to make a wave and I still remember everything about that day.
From the troubles of getting something else in place of the product, we ordered to having to call customer care for a refund to the outburst of anger that consumed me.
I remember it all vividly.
This first painful experience made me learn and grow fast when it comes to shopping online in Lagos, Nigeria. Some of these safe tips I learned from my tech friends, some on the internet and some I learned personally after using e-commerce platforms for a while.
These tips have worked for me that is why I’m bold to share them today with you guys to just make sure you also are able to protect yourself online especially keeping your money safe whilst you’re shopping online in Nigeria.
Why Shop Online In Nigeria?
Well, asides from the advantage of being able to order or buy from the comfort of your home or office, there are other benefits of shopping online in Nigeria which are:
How many hours do you usually spend on the road on a normal day if need to buy something (a product or groceries).
You spend 1 hour moving from your house to the mall, you spend another 30 minutes queuing to pay for what you bought and spend another hour on your way back home.
That’s a total of 2 hours 30 minutes. This could even be worse depending on the location.
Where you stay might even be much more far from the mall. Shopping online saves you all these. It gives you the ability to just shop on an e-commerce store and focus more on other important things and the goods get delivered to your doorstep.
I don’t know how it is in other parts of Nigeria but we Lagosians don’t joke with stress at all so we always look for anything or any option that will save us stress – because we spend averagely 2 hours every day in traffic.
So instead of stressing yourself with the Lagos traffic you can rather just order and get it delivered to you.
All in One Store
Another benefit of shopping online is the ability order or buy everything you need online and get them to be delivered to you.
A good example is when you need to buy clothing and accessories for your friend’s wedding. Instead of going to different malls or shops in Nigeria for the suits, shoes, watches and cufflinks and at the end of the day not getting the exact product you want, you can just shop online.
There are so many benefits of shopping online. These are the benefits I know due to personal experience. Your own benefit can be similar to mine of different in some ways.
How to Shop Online Safely in Nigeria
For us to understand this better I’ll be giving some scenarios to explain the points well.
1. Check Online Mall URL
It is easy to be enticed by what you see on a product ad Instagram and facebook then get easily ignorant about doing the right thing. It happens to us often. In fact, it still happened to me last week.
I saw a product I had been looking for a long time through an ad on facebook and instantly I click the ads and was directed to the website to purchase the product. I was about looking at how I could pay before it donned on me that I have not checked this particular mall URL.
For those of us who don’t know, URL means “Uniform Resource Locator”. It’s that bunch of letters that form a certain word or phrase with a .com .net or .org
So when I checked the URL and detected that the URL looked tricky not straight forward, I closed the online mall website.
For example, if you see a website that has a funny URL like justshop.nopt.ji
You should be wary of it.
Truth is most website like that are usually made by scammers to get your debit card details and once you put in your card details, they will burgle your account and take all your money.
Another thing you should also watch out for is if the website has a locked padlock sign next to it’s URL. If it doesn’t have that sign if a locked padlock, it shows the website is not safe for you to put in your data (like your name, email, phone number, and lastly debit card details)
Please be watchful!
2. Check Social Proof
Another way you can also ensure your safety when shopping online in Nigeria is to check for social proof of the online mall you’re about to buy from.
This is making sure that at least few people also know this online mall and can tell you a little bit about them – especially if the online mall is a foreign mall.
Ask people (your friends) that usually shop online about this online mall and their reputation.
Are they eCommerce store that takes longer days to deliver your goods? Or they are online mall that have the reputation of always delivering the wrong product and just want to push it in your face.
You need to really know all these so can know how to deal with them. This is what I do with a particular online mall in Nigeria (I don’t want to mention name).
I don’t pay immediately when I buy from them. I wait until the goods delivered to my doorstep and I’m sure they really brought what I ordered for.
This is my advice to you.
Create a league of friends that you know are regular online shoppers and make them your go-to guard anytime you want to shop online in Nigeria.
3. Pay on Delivery
I always prefer this option especially if I’m buying expensive goods online and I want to be safe by all means. If the particular eCommerce store doesn’t accept this option I rather go to retail shops around to buy instead.
I learned this from a friend of mine who was duped of over #450,000 for a camera he bought from an online mall from God knows where. He claimed this online mall he bought the camera from was an online mall in Nigeria but no one among us seems to have heard about this mall in question.
After making our serious finding and tracing this online mall in question we discovered it was located in another continent and it was a scammer website. From then till now my friend has not been able to deal with his loss.
So I think this is another option you should consider if you really want to shop online safely in Nigeria except you’re very sure they’ll sure deliver or don’t bring you the wrong goods.
Another story that happened many years ago that I still remember vividly was when my mum bought some products on one of these popular online malls in Nigeria. She ordered for an Android tablet and a power bank of a specific brand and they brought her a different product – What I call substandard product.
Although, this online mall later gave us all we wanted after so many complain. Their bad customer service on the first day I knew them spoilt the relationship I was about to build with them.
As we usually say in Nigeria “first impression counts”.
4. Create a Shopping Card
This is another tip that will save you a million naira that I got this tip from a tech advisor when he shared with me the story of how his friend current account worth millions of naira was cleared in one night.
What basically happened was he used his main account master card to shop on a mall online not knowing that the mall was a scammer website and the maniacs cleared his account.
My friend told me that if that friend of his had created a separate debit card for shopping probably this won’t have happened to him or his loss wouldn’t be as much as that.
Creating a shopping debit card saves you from exposing your card details online to the wrong people – scammers. Even if the details fall into the wrong hand you can be sure it’s only the shopping cash inside that account will be carted away not all your savings.
And when the shopping card is empty you can always refund money into it before shopping.
5. Never Share Your BVN
Finally, your BVN is a very delicate number.
It is like the master key to your house that can open all rooms in your house. The moment you let it get into wrong hands you account can be emptied in 24 hours if you’re lucky with traces and if you’re unlucky without traces.
So you have to be careful who you share it with. Not even anyone in your family should have any idea of what the first 4 numbers of your BVN except maybe your wife.
Avoid any malls that ask for the BVN your bank accounts. As far as I’m concerned they are all frauds.
As regards shopping on social media, do not share your card details with any retailer trying to sell to you. The best way to keep your money safe is to ensure that the goods are delivered to your doorstep first before you pay.
So many online social media retailers have also formed the habit of bringing the wrong product or subsidized products to buyers’ doorstep. And I have witnessed so many call-outs on twitter because of these – buyers asking for a refund of their money.
You don’t want to be in this position – trust me so you just have to be careful and sensitive with your money.
6. Never Do All Shopping Once
This tip might not really save you money but it can sure save you many stresses.
Even if you have any shopping to do at once maybe due to the urgency, never do all that shopping in one day on the same online shopping mall because all the products might not come in one day – the day you need the products except of cause it is a black Friday and you want to make good use of the opportunity.
I know life can be very tough with us trying to do so many things at once and still getting our needs but let’s plan to get all we need and buy them when we are least desperate has as this will always help to make right decisions in buying and also help us stay far from the disappointments of these online malls
The most important tip here as regards shopping online safely in Nigeria is that we should not get too familiar with buying on online platforms. The online platform should only serve as an avenue to be of help once in a while.
Get up and experience what it is like shopping in real malls and not within the 4 corners of your computer or phone.
Shopping online is an advantage and should not be abused.