Let’s kill Payment-on-Delivery (POD) in Nigeria

As I sat quietly at Etisalat’s headquarters reception lobby waiting to be ushered into Mr. Dakolo’s (pseudo name) office, I busied myself with watching CNN news and catching up on some technical tit-bits. In-between laughs and giggles, a man walked into the reception, looking rather stressed up probably because of the hot sun of Lagos. Immediately, as he walked into the air-conditioned lobby, one could see relief written all over his sweaty face. He walked to the receptionist, and after mumbling some words to the receptionist; she asked him to join the waiting poll. He is wearing the uniform of an online marketing company, so you can almost be certain he is here to deliver a parcel.

In no time, a young man looking so fresh emerged from the overly secured staff door by the lobby and walked towards this delivery guy. They exchanged pleasantries while the delivery guy brought out his package. We couldn’t resist the temptation of taking a peep at what the young man had ordered. The brand on the nylon shows the order is from Jumia. He couldn’t even wait to see what his order looks like before hurriedly ripping the nylon open, and what we saw appearing beneath the cover was a nice looking pair of shoes. I never expected anything less anyway. You needed no one to tell you he has good taste.

As soon as he flipped the shoe to check for the size, a frown appeared on his face, and then bitter complains followed because he had ordered something bigger than what Jumia delivered. I quickly switched my attention to know how this would be resolved. You know, as a Lagos boy you need to be able to deliver the narratives with enough pepper and salt.

After so much talk, the guy left the shoe with the delivery guy and walked back into his office with the delivery guy feeling so disappointed and dejected. I felt the delivery guy’s pain while putting myself in the buyer’s shoe, I couldn’t but approve of his reaction. You can agree with me that this Mr. Fresh choose “POD” payment option and that empowered him not to give away his money and freedom.

I remember the last Yakata of Konga when my brother bought some fashion items. He paid for the items trusting the Konga platform, but apparently, the merchant (not Konga) he bought from, delivered substandard materials and bigger sizes. He managed to get back some money on some of the items, but he had to resort to fate on large chunks of the items. With this and so many other reasons, I now see why without blinking an eye, people opt for the POD payment option.

Pay on delivery is a topic generating so much concern among sellers and eCommerce players. In fact, several fora have been organized to talk about it. My perspective about this topic might be slightly different but I feel the death of POD might happen sooner than we think if we collectively make this happen. Killing POD is not just a person’s thing, we are all in this together; payment gateways for buyers and sellers. Below are the ways I feel we can finally get POD out of our system…I am sure someone is laughing at me. I get, even if we can’t kill POD, let’s create a less attractive option.

Instant Refund

Getting back ones money has become the biggest issue in Nigeria’s payment terrain. Here is what it looks like; you find a product you like on an ecommerce website. You add your desired item to cart, go through the process of buying, then you make your payment online. The process is always so less stressful except if your internet connection is slow. The real issue starts from the start up process. Sometimes you have to wait for more than 3 days for your item to be delivered and when eventually it is delivered, you may find out it is in a total mess. Imagine if I want to return this item. Hold the thought there; let me give you another scenario.

Imagine you have ordered for some items, instantly paid for them, and now you are waiting to take delivery of your item, and suddenly you realise that you have not gotten a call after the second day and you become so angry for tying down your money. If it were in the open market or Balogun market where you have the opportunity to go get this thing yourself, would you cancel your order? If you cancel this order what happens thereafter?

I am not sure you want to know what happens. If you care to know, this is it. You will use your hard-earned airtime to call the commerce company for several years (sorry, it sounds too long but sometimes it is close…Lol) and then you keep going round in circles. If the cost of the item you bought is not so much, you would prefer to leave it with them than pushing further. If they really want to refund you, you will get a call asking for your account number, and then a bank transfer because they can’t pay directly into the card. I know you know the stories of bank transfers too in Nigeria. It can get so frustrating. This is how we lose every believer in the online payment every day.

I agree that this problem is not just with eCommerce companies, but he payment gateway is always the culprit. It is easy to collect money for merchants but so hard to refund their customers. At the conception of online payment gateways in Nigeria, securing the card owners against fraud over-shadowed the refund feature. Now that we have built a most, secure institution in Nigeria, why did we forget to create an escape route in the event of an emergency?

This is a superb feature of KongaPay, which makes it a unique platform, and I am sure Konga must have seen this problem from the huge data they have gathered from their eCommerce platform over time. It just makes sense they solve it using this fantastic feature. We need all other payment gateway players to follow suit. More customers would enjoy so much convenience paying online if they know they get a refund instantly. Please pay into my account direct “abeg” or drop it where I can get the value for my money instantly.

Same day Delivery

The biggest of all cancellations in eCommerce orders are due to delayed orders. I was so impressed to see Konga.com introduce same day delivery for some items, followed by Yudala. I am sure if you ask them they would say they are glad they did. Funny enough, you pay a premium to get your item delivered to you on the same day on Konga.com. I am sure I won’t mind paying for such item immediately and know my fate same day. If it doesn’t work for me I will ask for a refund instantly (no time, no chill!).

However, I don’t know who has ever paid for a digital item on delivery before. We can argue that this is not the same as physical goods but we can both agree they go through similar processes. Any digital good you pay for and you don’t get instantly is probably a scam because it is readily available. With great support, assurance of getting your item same day and if you don’t like it, get an instant refund, customers would have so much confidence in paying.

Wallet System (Escrow)

Escrow works every time. It is an assurance that my money has not gotten to the other side and I am left at the mercy of some dude. You remember that little caveat on an Igbo man’s receipt that says money is not refundable. You don’t want to walk into such a trap. I am not being discriminatory, but I find it a more peculiar trait among Igbo traders, which I fell for many times when I was much younger.

Escrow would have saved so much in a country like Nigeria where everyone looks like a scammer. Things have gotten so much better now, and I can tell you only a fraction of card owners still transact business online.

I remember in 2011 when I needed to make some payment on a particular website and needed PayPal so dearly. I tried reaching out to everyone I knew but to no avail. My best option was to search online, find someone or a company who could do this for me. I goggled for help and got relevant results from Nairaland. I called the dude and he asked me to transfer over a 100k to him. I was not so confident with the deal but because I didn’t even have any guarantees coupled with the Nigerian factor, I did not trust the arrangement.

After much ado, I finally sent him 70% of the money with an agreement to pay the balance when he delivers on his promise. Your guess is as good as mine. He didn’t keep his own part of the deal and my money went down the drain. I called him severally, sent messages to an email address I got that pointed to him after much of some FBI stunts online. It is disheartening that I had to part with so much money then. I could have killed someone if it were in this Change era.

My happiness would have known no bounds if there was somewhere I could have paid this person’s money into, and be at liberty to release it to him when I am satisfied with his service. It is sad I lost my money and my heart in that ugly process. We need a game changer in the payment space that can look into this and protect the buyers and sellers. It is sad that as at today, no platform exists that does this.

Build a brand to trust

A friend introduced me to ASOS late 2014. From my first experience to the very last time (when the rise in pounds stopped me) I shopped on the website and it was awesome all the way. I had a particular experience, which Nigeria ecommerce players cannot match and I would say ASOS is an excellent brand. This is not cheap advert but we need to give honour to whom it is due. On this occasion, I bought quite a number of items from them and it took almost forever for the order to get to Nigeria. After I have waited for over 2 months and couldn’t bear it again, I sent them an email that my items have not been delivered. They did their investigation and realised I was right, the next thing they did was to ship another item. That is good service and reputation.

Platforms in Nigeria need to form the habit of delivering great service. Customers are kings and you must treat them as such. The testimony of a satisfied customer goes a long way. Ecommerce sites, priortise the orders of the paying customers, give them incentives, give them bonuses, take a percentage off their total order. Payment gateways, share your revenue with your customers so that you can encourage more customers to use your platform. Build a formidable team together and let’s change the story.

Make POD expensive

When I mean make POD expensive, I am not just referring to putting additional cost to it, though it can also mean so. I mean, let users see it as not a good enough option. There are different ways we can achieve this:

1. Give preferential treatments to customers that pay, and state this boldly on your eCommerce websites.

2. Give coupons to customers that make complete payments three consecutive times.

3. Discount the overall cost for people paying online.

4. Occasionally celebrate your customers on your websites and social channels.

5. Have an intelligent system that check users that choose POD cancellation rate, and after cancelling three times, provide only payment online option for them. Let them earn the points to have POD as an option again.

If you think paying on delivery is a cultural issue, don’t forget we created the environment for it, we can re-work this. The real customers are customers that pay for what they want. It is expensive delivering goods not been paid for and a breach of trust to deny anyone their right after paying for items. We can only record an achievement if no one cares who takes the credit, and this requires collective effort.

We can fix it.

Like what you read? Give Akinyele Olubodun a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.