Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Online shopping in Kenya; coming of age?

Kenyans always catch up with the world at least technologically. A few Kenyans that is. There is still a hoard of people who would think the word Yahoo is a contortion of the word taboo.

Believe the hype though Facebook is everywhere. At least my grandmother heard that one of my cousins was taking a stab at another on Facebook. I am sure she does not understand why it was worse on facebook. My point first is to let you know that inequality in Kenya is real. And that does not mean between the rich and the poor, it is between the technologically advanced and the technologically deficient. Not to say that i cannot access my data needs in my shags, i often do. Infact i suspect if i ever lived there, that is all i would ever do. But the truth is the people in my village just don't know about all this hype.

Online shopping in Nairobi is growing. It all started with Facebook and their business pages.Suddenly there are so many invites to like pages of businesses and events. There are business which owe their business to facebook. But why not, in this day of expensive goodwill to set up shop and the business permits, setting up shop online maybe the online way out for our young ones. And i guess that's is what all these all M-Vitus (as M would call them are all about). Trying to connect the Kenyan consumer and supplier.

I am a huge fan of baby stuff as with all other mums so the only one i can share are those i have used to shop for my toddler. My experience with Biashara has been less than satisfying so i ventured online to see the stuff plus there is little time to shop physically.

1. Totally Toto This is one of the well run online stores. They cater mainly for the younger ones (0-12months). Their quality is top notch.

2. Totspot I have shopped in this store many times as they cater for the older ones more than the younger ones. Delivery is efficient, the clothes are longlasting

3. Enzi Chic I have shopped here once and their clothes are lovely. I just doubt if there are really from Burberry and OshKosh. That dress costs at least $ 135 dollars but would cost Ksh. 1, 500 here. The math just does not add up. The clothes last though.

4.Smart Baby Kenya  The owners runs it from the apartment that she lives in. She lived in the US (obviously), in Kenya letting strangers into your house is not easy. The clothes are beautiful.

5. Kenya Business online I only have one advice to offer. Sort out the websites by the Industry. For example i am only interested in Furniture, baby clothes, African wear. Their business are sorted A-Z which can make it tedious for someone looking for a specific solution. However the initial followers like www.cake.co.ke probably benefited too much from Google's advertising. You can check this one for delivery of fresh vegetables http://freshandmore.kbo.co.ke/
6. Strawberry Store This is like a franchise of IKEA and mainly sells household goods.

Enter the world of wannabe Groupon

Anyone on twitter and facebook has seen some agressive marketing by Rupu and Zetu. They offer deals to customer, sometimes they claim 50% off. With all honesty i have bought those deals a couple of times and these are my comments;

1. Shops running deals are often not too enthusiastic to offer the services and/or are too tired to do so within the time stipulated. Once my friend bought me a deal on Zetu http://www.zetu.co.ke/nairobi/ksh850-53-discount-professional-manicure-and-swedi .

I planned on having the services at the end of the period. So I got there on a saturday afternoon there very enthusiastic about the Swedish massage.I had been talking to this girl the whole week and she was fine with me redeeming the deal on that date.

 Upon my arrival at New York Salon at Yaya, Nairobi and asking to redeem the deal,  i was told that the lady who was running the deal had left to be married and would not be coming back until 3 months later. I told them, the deal was not run by the lady but by the New York Salon and if i was not wrong i was at the New York Salon. Needless to say i only left after they had perfomed their end of the bargain.I promised myself to shun away deals by the New York Salon.

2. I am not sure they investigate the capacity of the outfit running the deals to provide the services. The deals are used by up and coming business to gain some competitive advantage over well established businesses. Not a bad thing but make sure that the company can meet their end of the bargain. Recently i bought another one from Rupu. Karembo Designs was offering the deal. Needless to say. I am still waiting for the delivery.

I am very skeptical about taking another deal.

That said online stores are going to grow in Kenya. Thankfully though, most of the times you pay on delivery. I would be skeptical of paying before viewing the goods.

That said i wish that Nakumatt, Uchumi, Tuskys and all major shopping outlets could follow suit! Nakumatt though has announced on its website that online shopping could be coming soon.

Online payment systems

In Kenya, i only know two online payment systems

1. Pesapal Kenya which is run by the Verviant Group. Pesapal is established running payments systems like www.ticketsasa.com and is used by the likes of Nairobi Securities Exchange to sell data and Networking in Heels Events owned by Violette Wambua to sell tickets. It incorporates Paypal, MPESA and Airtel money, Yu cash, Equity Bank. Check their website www.pesapal.com


2. Ipay is owned by Intrepid which offers web design and hosting services. It uses M-PESA, Airtel Money, yuCash, VISA, Master Card and Kenswitch. I am not so sure of the uptake of this one.

There is obviously a growing market for online services and services providers of internet security, payment systems better take note.