The leading online ecommerce platform operating in Africa, Jumia, had a successful IPO on the New York bourse recently raising USD 196 million. The platform is the most successful on the continent. Launched 7 years ago, it entered into an unexplored territory which has a more challenging internet infrastructure compared to the rest of the world. This risky venture paid off and the platform now enjoys more than 4 million customers in 14 countries.
One of Jumia’s biggest markets is Kenya, ranked among the most vibrant and technologically innovative places in the world. Jumia is not the only online shopping platform in the country, and as it stands, it has to keep innovating to stay relevant and keep its competition at bay. There are platforms such as Kilimall, myBIGorder, Avechi, Shopit, among others. Some of the online shops are specific in products such as phones, computers, cars, clothes, and food. They include Phoneplace, Phones Stores, MyShopKe, Cheki, Mamamikes, Dappermonkey, Rafubooks, Rugano, among others.
Trusting online shopping Kenya
One of the biggest challenges when Jumia launched was gaining the trust of the virtual shopper. Many buyers in Kenya wanted to see before buying anything, which is just natural and a universal norm. When the pioneering online shops launched, the market trends were driven largely by millennials. Gaining trust among them depended mostly on word of mouth from friends and relatives who had ‘taken risk’ and bought something online. Then came the generation Z which knows nothing but using tech to solve all their problems, from preordering the newest fancy phone to quick orders for lunch or supper.
Instant feedback on social media has also played a huge role in influencing buyers. Many of the niche sellers such as those dealing with foods or books have found avenues on Twitter and Facebook which have driven online sales to new level highs. For instance, Kenyan author Kinyanjui Kombani started distributing his latest book Of Pawns and Players through his twitter handle. Before long the books were sold out, but logistics must have seemed a challenge to him. Rafubooks saw the opportunity and took over the challenge. The book sold out three times within two months and is still one of the most talked about books online. It is evident that many Kenyans are finding it easier to order books from a verified online store rather than walk from bookshop to bookshop and end up not finding the product.
The ease and affordability of finding specific products online is a huge motivator for online shoppers in Kenya. In fact, most of the sellers offer the option of payment on delivery which makes the buyer trust them even more.
Delivery solutions for online shoppers in Kenya
Just a few years back, delivery was a big challenge for most sellers. There were limited courier services which most of the time required the buyer to pick their product at a specific location. This has changed with the advent of courier and tax apps. Sellers are collaborating with taxi companies and courier services for to-door and to-office delivery for everything from food to gadgets. Instead of one being called to go collect a parcel at a Kenya Posta station or at a G4S office, the rider only calls to inquire the exact point of delivery. Competition among delivery service providers has challenged them to be more efficient, innovative and trustworthy all for the benefit of the customer. Nowadays if you want anything in Kenya, just Google or tweet about it and it shall find you. Delivery app Glovo is charging as little as KES 50 and a max of KES 100 for delivery within Nairobi.
However, the ride has not been easy for some. Rupu and Mimi had to close shop after tumultuous ventures.
Mobile and internet payment solutions
Kenya is renowned for its MPESA mobile money transfer service across the world. The integration of this, and other mobile money and internet money transfer services has made it quite easy to shop from any part for the country. Mobile money services are now integrated with services such as Paypal, Wave, WorldRemit, and banks, enabling one to complete a transaction with just a phone.
Google ranking for some online shopping sites in Kenya
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*Rank as of May 7, 2019