Africa Sokoni eyes brick & mortar stores to further reach

Africa Sokoni eyes brick & mortar stores to further reach
Ebrima Fatty, C.E.O. Africa Sokoni.

In Summary

  • Africa Sokoni follows in the steps of its competitor Jumia who likewise setup the 'touch and feel' stores to bridge the gap between brick & mortar outlets and e-commerce.
  • The physical outlets by e-commerce platforms are viewed as a means to rally in masses into online transactions through close consumer engagement which tackles challenges to web-based trade by cultivating trust among players.
  • Kenya has 2.6 million online shoppers, a rather wanting figure when compared to  the 42.2 million internet subscriptions.

Online e-commerce operator Africa Sokoni has disclosed plans to set up a physical presence in a move to deepen the firm’s reach to prospective customers.

The Afrocentric company which set up shop 12 months ago in the country is looking to facilitate the transition of consumers from the traditional brick and mortar chain to fully-fledged online trading.

“The touch and feel stores will foster the acceptability of web based transactions as they allow customers to test the authenticity of products. Tomorrow, these customers won’t have to go to the stores again and can order for products online having established a rapport through the physical stores,” Africa Sokoni Chief Executive Officer Ebrima Fatty said during a news conference on Wednesday.

The move points to the increasing need for online platforms to set up physical locations to allow for closer consumer engagement. It also follows in the footsteps of competing Jumia, another e-commerce platform which setup physical stores in late 2017 for its travel segment in a bid to acquire a slice of the offline market.

Despite a surge in the number of online shoppers in the country, e-commerce lags behind increased internet usage with the office of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) quoting online shoppers at 2.6 million at the end of 2017 against internet subscriptions which peaked at 42 million according to the latest sector statistics by the regulator, the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).

Industry players however, remain upbeat about the online trading potential backed by strong evidence in research at both the national and global level. According to a study co-piloted by the CA in collaboration with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the Kenyan e-commerce space is valued at Sh6.8 billion with 27 percent of all firms opting to dispatch their goods and services online.

However, E-commerce in Kenya faces challenges which range from slow acceptance  among consumers to the lack of proper regulation before the realization of its full potential.

For Africa Sokoni, this transformation will go beyond simply the legislation of sector regulations.

“What the government needs to do in addition to regulation is to provide an enabling environment for e-commerce models to flourish. The right encouragement will see Africa live up to its e-commerce potential,” Ebrima Fatty added.

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