They may be platforms for idle chat for some people but others have embraced social media as a useful business aid.
Many young entrepreneurs in Ghana these days sell household items, hand-woven baskets, hair pieces, bags, shoes, wigs, clothes and a variety of other items but not in conventional bricks-and-mortar shops.
They are doing brisk business on Facebook, Pinterest, WhatsApp and Instagram. Digital technology is the new reality and they are taking advantage of it.
“I tried to find a shop for the clothes I design and sew but the rent was too expensive. I tried putting the clothes in my car and taking them to offices but it also meant driving regularly all over Accra,” said clothes designer, Adwoa Jackson.
“I realised selling through social media entailed less stress and also allowed me access to many people at a time so I now do business on WhatsApp and Instagram.”
A female civil servant, who used to leave her office before official closing time to sell a variety of cosmetics, said she now stayed at post but still managed to sell her wares.
“Social media has offered a whole lot of opportunities. It took me only two days to master my way around social media. Now I leave the office only when I should to avoid getting myself into trouble,” she pointed out.
Retailers on social media usually render service to customers through dispatch riders and get paid on delivery of the products.
All kinds of food, including mashed kenkey, are available on social media. Clients only need to alert the retailer about the type of food they want, as well as where and when it should be delivered.
That convenience factor is one of the main reasons why social media retailers are so well-patronised these days. They manage to get items to customers wherever they are.
“Sometimes you have to go to the mall or the market and roam for what you want. With the social media retailers, you see all the things they have at a glance and choose what you want for it to be delivered at your doorstep.
“Sometimes their prices are also a little cheaper than what you find on the market. It is just a way of enticing more,” says Efia Akese, who patronises social media retailers regularly.
Another reason for the increasing patronage of the new age retailers is that some of them stock exclusive items.
“I know a lady whose range of water bottles are different from all others. They offer designs available only through them. When you buy party favours from them also, you realise how different they are from what you see all the time,” Efia said.
Ms Euphemia Adomako-Gyimah is one of the partners of souvenirs.gh, an outfit that sells household items and party souvenirs through social media.
According to her, shop owners demanding two or three-year advance payments are too steep for young entrepreuners.
All the same, she feels the combination of a conventional shop and social media for business is an effective mix.
“If a client wants something worth GH¢35 and delivery costs GH¢30, what’s the point in delivering to that client? to cut down the delivery cost, my two other partners, Mrs Hannah Nyarko and Miss Caroline Tekyi-Mensah, also have the products so depending on the location of the buyer, then any of us can contact the dispatch. I guess if you want to sell more, you have to combine the two systems’’, Euphemia said.
Though some shoppers realise the retail business is fast changing to reflect contemporary reality, they do not want to miss the physical thrill of going out to shop so they still prefer to go to the mall or market for their needs.