Online shopping companies promise a digital business boom
Digital commerce remains relatively low in Kenya despite enhanced internet connectivity and high uptake of mobile payment services. Increased numbers and preference by the youths to access information on mobile phones has opened a window for investors in the retail industry such as supermarkets, newspaper and book publishers as well as hospitality players like fast food outlets to leverage on technology.
Interestingly, online shopping firms have ventured into ecommerce investment. Notable firms that have built online trading sites are Kilimall, N-Soko, OLX, Rupu and Jumia, among others. Recently Kilimall, a platform that hosts other businesses that want to go online, entered the online market in Kenya. With a target of supporting 100,000 businesses across the East Africa, Kilimall aspires to revolutionize e-commerce in Kenya.
A case study from the operators shows that over 150 large and small merchants have opened shop with Kilimall site. Alongside wider market advantage for the vendors, the firm is undertaking seminars on ecommerce to bolster internet knowledge.
Last year, the company announced ambitious plans to introduce delivery by drones, which will transform online shopping. The firm assures reliable, low-cost delivery services and system to enable consumers return unwanted or defective items.
“We are optimistic that online commerce in Kenya will transform Kenya’s economy. Digitization is the talk of the day and so is online shopping in Kenya,” says Mr Kariuki Maina (pictured, above), the marketing director at Kilimall.
The Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) estimates the value of e-commerce in Kenya at Ksh4.3 billion compared to South Africa’s Ksh54 billion while in Egypt and Morocco it is about Ksh17 billion and Ksh9.6 billion respectively. Improved internet connectivity increased the number of users to 13.1 million by December last year from 1.7 million users during the same period in 2007. With this trend, Kenya is on the receiving end for ecommerce boom.
CA identifies inadequate cyber security systems as a key factor affecting ecommerce in Kenya. To address this, Mr Kariuki says Kilimall system allows merchants to verify the identity of their customers and manage potential fraudulent usage. Several initiatives have been taken by entrepreneurs, changing the online business landscape in Kenya in recent years. More players are still coming on board using social media site likes Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp.