Escrow Kenya has launched a free-for-all online marketplace targeting small business owners looking to give their businesses more visibility online. The platform offers small business owners the ability to set up fully customized online stores within minutes, with the option of receiving payments through the company’s Lipa Na Escrow solution. The marketplace is free of charge.
“To help small business owners bring their businesses online, we have today launched a free marketplace for anyone looking to give their online business more visibility. The platform allows anyone to open a free online store within minutes. There are no setup fees, and we will never charge a commission. The platform is free for all, for life,” said Mr Robert Kamaru, Founder and CEO of Escrow Kenya.
“The marketplace comes with an optional Lipa Na Escrow integration to help your business sell with ease when trust issues come in the way. This is 100% optional. You do not have to receive your payments through Lipa Na Escrow,” he added.
The Escrow Kenya Marketplace is available on the Web Address www.escrow.ke. It gives relief to any small business owner who cannot afford to build or maintain their own e-commerce website. The platform provides a space for traders to quickly set up their space and add products with images, descriptions, and prices – the same way they would on their own independent e-commerce website.
The online store also includes social sharing buttons and a review section to help drive traffic to the business. Mr. Kamaru explained, “Customers can view your shop and inventory, contact details, find your location on a map, or write you a review to help boost your profile. The marketplace is connected to our social media pages and Google Merchant Account so that your products are automatically published and discoverable on Facebook Shops and surfaces across Google.”
The launch comes when the country is grappling with the economic effects of partial lockdowns and restrictions imposed by government institutions in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Most SMEs lack resources to absorb losses even in the short term, unlike their larger business counterparts.
A BFA Global survey, a finance and technology data research company, found out that most businesses in Kenya can only remain afloat for 6.5 weeks if they lost half of their revenue. According to the survey, up to 52% of the country’s businesses have already reported significant revenue losses.
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With travel restrictions, curfews, and social distancing measures, Escrow Kenya’s online marketplace platform offers a lifeline to SME owners, especially for businesses heavily reliant on walk-in customers in their brick and mortar stores.
With increasing cases of cyber fraud, many buyers avoid online shopping so as not to get cheated out of their hard-earned money.
According to a report by Hubspot, there are 22.86 million internet users in Kenya today, which is 3.2 million, equivalent to a 16% increase from 2019 with a penetration of 43% of the country’s population. The report also found out that there were an additional 1.0 million social media users between April 2019 and January 2020, totaling 8.80 million social media users in Kenya this year.
Given that many Kenyan consumers use social media to research brands and their products before making a purchase, businesses have to utilize digital platforms for commerce to meet customer demands.
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However, with online selling comes the issue of trust, especially when making payments. With increasing cases of cyber fraud, many buyers avoid online shopping so as not to get cheated out of their hard-earned money. On the other hand, online sellers are also reluctant to offer pay of delivery options to avoid getting conned.
The Lipa Na Escrow payment option provided on the marketplace plays a vital and protective role in the buying and selling process by holding onto a payment until the transaction is complete, thus bridging the trust gap between the buyer and the seller.
Through the security that Lipa Na Escrow provides, buyers can conveniently shop for products on the Escrow Kenya marketplace, safely make payments but only complete the transaction once they have received their orders. Sellers are also assured of payments when making a delivery.