How e-Commerce Can Leverage Computer Vision Technology To Boost Sector – NCC


The rapid adoption of Computer Vision Technology (CVT) has revolutionized business operations and transformed e-commerce by improving efficiency in a variety of ways.
CVT is the process of using algorithms and artificial intelligence to process visual data from images or videos.

In the retail sector, for instance, CVT enables automated product categorization, visual search, object recognition, and even virtual try-on experiences. It‘s leveraged for tasks like inventory management, customer analytics, automated checkout, and enhancing the overall shopping experience.

According to a study titled: “Exploratory Study on the Application of Computer Vision Technology for E-Commerce Sector Growth In Nigeria,” published by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the use of computer vision in retail operations can lower operational costs, increase inventory management accuracy, improve consumer interaction, ultimately boost sales and has a significant and intriguing potential to transform the retail environment as technology develops and becomes more affordable.

However, to fully realize the potential of computer vision in Nigerian e-commerce, there is a need to address the challenges associated with infrastructure, talent, and funding, the study averred.
The study used a total of 108 participants for the quantitative data collected, which included e-commerce companies like Jumia,, OLX, Flutterwave, Payporte, and, Interswitch, Opay, Palmpay, Moniepoint, Paystack, Shopify, and their customers. This diverse sample was chosen to capture a wide range of perspectives and experiences related to the application of computer vision technology in the e-commerce sector

The study also gathered data from users of e-commerce services across major Nigerian cities such as Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Ibadan, Abeokuta, and Port Harcourt to mention but a few. A total of about 363 respondents completed the survey instruments.

The findings of the study showed that 60 percent of respondents are currently using Computer Vision in their operations and an additional 35 percent indicate that they are very likely to integrate it. On the perception of computer vision‘s impact on the e-commerce sector, about 57.4 percent agreed that CVT can enhance the e-commerce sector in Nigeria.

On the benefits of computer vision in E-commerce, 44.4 percent said CVT will enhance customer experience, even as the study disclosed that the success of Amazon‘s recommendation system, which led to a 30 percent sales increase, is a testament to this potential.
However, 40 percent of the businesses surveyed are not familiar with AI and its applications for business growth.

Challenges in adopting computer vision
The primary challenge as identified by the study is the lack of technical expertise, even as the study added that for successful adoption, there‘s a need for skilled professionals.

According to the study, “the size of required data sets was highlighted as the biggest limitation in computer vision, receiving 42.3 percent of votes. High costs (at 20.4 percent) were indicated as the second biggest limitation.”

The study highlighted poor data quality as a challenge, as CVT relies on large and diverse datasets of labeled and annotated images to train and test the algorithms. “However, collecting and curating such datasets can be challenging in Nigeria, where there may be a lack of data sources, data standards, and data protection regulations. Furthermore, the datasets may not reflect the local context, culture, and diversity of Nigeria, leading to biased and inaccurate computer vision models.

“In response to the growing prevalence of computer vision applications, ensuring a qualified workforce to translate ideas into reality is crucial. While the number of artificial intelligence professionals globally is in the hundreds of thousands, the burgeoning demand for roles in this field exceeds millions, highlighting a significant skills gap. This gap has been exacerbated by the widespread accessibility of AI and deep learning, motivating both established corporations and startups to venture into the domain,” It stated.

To address this issue, the study advised that enhancing resources for digital, technical, and mathematical education is key, adding that, “Notably, industry leaders like Amazon and Google are investing on a global scale to enlarge their talent pool. Additionally, businesses can concentrate on retraining and upskilling their existing employees to bridge the skills divide effectively.”

Inadequate hardware is also a challenge, as the study explained that CVT requires high-resolution cameras, sensors, and other devices to capture and process images effectively. “However, these hardware components can be costly and difficult to install and maintain in some areas of Nigeria, especially in rural and remote regions. Moreover, the availability and reliability of electricity and internet connectivity can also affect the performance of computer vision systems,” it stated.

On ethical concerns, the study averred that CVT presents ethical concerns encompassing privacy, consent, accountability, and fairness. Instances include the potential infringement on individuals‘ and groups‘ rights and freedoms in Nigeria through systems like surveillance, facial recognition, or biometric identification; Moreover, these technologies can manifest bias or discrimination, disproportionately affecting specific segments of the population, including women, minorities, and people with disabilities, it stated.

It also highlighted the fact that CVT is an emerging field in Nigeria, but it‘s relatively new, leading to limited awareness and comprehension of its advantages and possible uses among the general public and prospective users. “Additionally, there is a scarcity of proficient professionals capable of creating, implementing, and overseeing computer vision systems in the country. Hence, there‘s a pressing requirement for increased education, training, and skill development in computer vision technology across Nigeria,” the study revealed.

The adoption of computer vision, with 60 percent of e-commerce businesses already utilizing it and an additional 35 percent indicating that they are very likely to integrate it, underscores the need for a cohesive national direction, the study stated, while recommending that there is a need for government to develop a comprehensive strategy.

“The government can provide a clear roadmap for the sector, emphasizing the potential economic uplift, job opportunities, and global competitiveness. This proactive approach will ensure that the nation remains at the cutting edge of this technological wave, harnessing its full potential for the e-commerce landscape,” it added.
Given that 40 percent of the businesses surveyed are not familiar with AI and its applications for business growth, there‘s a clear gap in digital literacy, the study stated, while calling on the government to invest in and promote digital literacy programs, especially focusing on emerging technologies like AI.

The appetite for innovation is evident, with businesses interested in channeling their resources into R&D for computer vision, the study stated, “offering incentives such as tax breaks or grants, the government can further fuel this drive, accelerating advancements in the field. Such a move will not only spur businesses to push technological boundaries but also position the country as a hub for computer vision innovation in e-commerce.”

It also called for a review and update of data privacy regulations, adding that, “As businesses adopt AI, concerns about data privacy and security will inevitably arise. The government should proactively review and update data privacy regulations to ensure that they are in line with the latest technological advancements. This will not only protect consumers but also provide businesses with clear guidelines on how to handle data responsibly.”

The power of collective effort cannot be understated, even as the study averred that “By fostering platforms where e-commerce entities can converge to discuss computer vision projects, share insights, and tackle shared challenges, the government can catalyze the formulation of standardized practices and a unified vision. Such collaborative endeavors can streamline the sector‘s approach to computer vision, maximizing its benefits.”

The bedrock of effective computer vision implementation is robust digital infrastructure, as the study suggested the need to channel investments into bolstering this infrastructure. “The government can ensure businesses have the requisite resources at their disposal, optimizing the impact of computer vision technologies on e-commerce,” it added.


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