Today various malls across Kenya would be teaming with people looking to buy this or that. Some just out for window shopping or admiring products and hoping to buy when money comes in. But the situation is starkly different, thanks to Covid-19 outbreak in Kenya, which has scared people not only from offices but from retail outlets as well.
Away from the glitzy malls and retail chains, Kenyans are turning to online shopping as part of self-quarantine ordered by the government to contain the spread of the virus. Many e-commerce companies such as Jumia have recorded an upsurge in orders since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Kenya. A good number of these people are shopping online for the first time.
The Covid-19 pandemic, while a health disaster, has presented a perfect opportunity for the e-commerce industry to make a strong case and grow. The challenge, however, is for companies in this industry to retain customers by offering quality products and excellent after-sales service like delivery and refunds in case ordered goods are rejected by customers.
In such moments, delivery has to be on time and product selection precise as the end-game is to minimize movement and interaction. It is also good that delivery agents are being trained to observe social distancing and other precautions.
Also with more people going online to shop, retailers need to increase variety of goods including essentials to hold them captive. E-commerce is evolving and it is interesting to see daily-use products such as flour, rice, sugar and oil, being bought online. Initially, online dealers sold mostly electronics and fashion products.
Covid-19 has also opened the way for offline supermarkets to go online. Tuskys and Naivas supermarkets are promoting digital shopping and home delivery, something they treated with little interest. Digital shopping is geared at limiting numbers of people in stores but it is at the same time shaping into a business model.
At the end, with platforms like Jumia stopping the use of cash in line with Central Bank of Kenya advice, online shopping should endevour to remain digital, even on payments. Besides securing transactions, digital payments will be a major boost towards the cashless economy where transactions are cleared on mobile, internet or through cards.
Smart retailers should take full advantage of the Covid-19 crisis to not only grow their business but also contribute towards managing the situation in the name of corporate social responsibility.
A good example is Jumia, which has partnered with various manufacturers to increase the supply of essential sanitary products. It is also rolling out soaps, gloves and face masks, which will come in handy in managing the spread of the virus.
Such businesses will end up doing well and doing good. Which is good for the growth of e-commerce in Kenya.