E-commerce is finally taking toll in Kenya with various service providers making necessary arrangements to have a share of the pie; however, are we seriously ready for the change? I am one of the proponents for simplified solutions that will not only put Kenya at par with the rest of the world but those which are as well aimed at making our everyday life as efficient as possible. I am a big fan of mobile based services such as Mpesa for example, they’ve achieved some accomplishment in one way or another but that doesn’t mean they’ve also solved everything that has an ‘e-commerce’ tag attached. Mobile banking is a segment Kenya has proved to excel more than anywhere in the world, everything has gone mobile in this great nation, but just how do we mitigate this development to the spirit of simplified yet efficient online shopping?
I’ve seen businesses introduce online shopping options here in Kenya, some with even online payment solutions and free drop ship services, but those I must credit are utility service providers such as Kenya Power, Nairobi water and sewerage company as well as selected supermarkets and pay TV providers that allow customers to pay using mobile phones. Clearly, they’ve realized just how much technology could be important and this shouldn’t go without mentioning the main platforms used which include; Mpesa, Airtel Money, Yu Cash and Orange Money.
There are however other online platforms that have revolutionized e-commerce system in Kenya, Customers can shop just about everything online or sell their belongings without much effort. Most of these e-commerce sites don’t integrate online payment systems; nevertheless, they are completely free, meaning both sellers and buyers are not charged a penny for using them. Globally recognized as classifieds, I must admit over time I’ve grown fond of using them and for those who are in Kenya can access great bargains on products and services or sell theirs from local classifieds completely free.
Just like mobile based banking solutions, Kenyans have come to appreciate these free online classifieds websites which allows them not only to purchase used or new products at great bargains but also sell theirs free of charge. I would have wished to see transactions completed online as well but we all know, this would potentially attract a small fee.
And now back to our big question, ‘has online shopping come of age in Kenya?’ I’d comfortably say yes. The commonly used phrase “better late than never”, doesn’t apply here, instead, ‘better early or never’ would most probably suite the occasion. Best examples of people who took their chance at the earliest possible opportunity include facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Chances of seeing a success replicate of a similar network are close to none, unless of course with several tweaks here and there, but who wants all that trouble.