Kenya’s online shopping comes full circle


Holiday shopping isn’t what it used to be and after this year, it will never be the same in Kenya.

A recent report by Marketing Research firm, AC Nielsen, indicated an evolution in Kenya’s retail industry, reporting a slow shift from brick-and-mortar (shopping as we know it) retail, to e-commerce, where people buy things online and pay using mobile money or cash and get items delivered to them.

The indications all pointed to this as a growing trend, however, if we are to go by the events of last Friday (November 28th), then they tell a different story.

Kenya’s online shopping culture has come full circle, and now it is not a matter of if, but when the inevitable is going to happen – when Kenyans will forgo offline Christmas shopping for online.

Once again Kenyans have taken to a new culture, Black Friday, like ducks to water.

An old American concept that is only on it’s second round in Kenya.

And while in the US it has been making headlines this year as a result of dropping numbers of shoppers in offline stores due to more people preferring to shop online, in Kenya,e-commerce made history.

Kilimall, one of Kenya’s online shopping malls, stood out for me with the fun they brought into online shopping.

To understand this I had a chat with Kilimall’s Marketing Manager, Mungai Charles, who said they were stunned by the overwhelming response they received from Kenyans that far superseded their expectations.

“We had a very creative and efficient marketing campaign dubbed ‘Deals Noma Sana’ running from Monday the 23rd to Thursday the 26th of November and at 12am (midnight) on Friday when the deals began, we noticed a sharp spike in the number of people on our Website, which only kept surging until 11:59pm when the deals were supposed to come to a close,” he said.

“With record breaking sale orders bettering our first record-breaking campaign called ‘Double 11’, a concept borrowed from Asia E-commerce giant Alibaba just two weeks prior, and with only about one and a half years in the market, this was a reveling moment for us,” he continued.

“It is now clear that the age-old holiday tradition of heading out to shopping malls with family and friends is now equally matched in the new tradition of looking online for holiday savings opportunities,” noted Mr. Mungai.

He continued to say that Kilimall would be working towards bringing the best shopping deals, experience and after sales support to Kenyans, which he said was one of the key successes highlighted by their customers.

The marketing manager further stated that the online shop intends to lead innovating thinking in the field of e-commerce, noting that among their key innovative ideas were bringing the concept of Flash Sales to Kenya and most recently the uniquely new group Bargaining, social gaming concept dubbed TuBargain, derived from Swahili of ‘Let’s Bargain’.

“All these are highly successful models in the Orient,”Mungai noted.

“For Flash Sales we have made a deliberate effort to be very honest and tell our Kenyan shoppers the number of items available for every given flash sale deal and not to use this to lure Kenyans with the perception that there’s enough to go around for everyone. It is a First Check Out – First get basis. So it is not enough for you to just click “Buy” and add it to your shopping cart, you have to check it out immediately, otherwise there will be someone elsewhere clicking it away faster than you,” he explained.

He opined that the future of e-commerce in Kenya is bright, adding that there is more to be done in the platform.

“If we are to go by what we observed during Black Friday, both on our platform and other platforms in Kenya, then I would say that perhaps it is we, e-commerce platforms, that are not delivering at the level that Kenyans demand is,”remarked Mr. Mungai.

He added that the market’s potential is too big that they cannot factor competition at this stage.

“We have only just scratched the surface despite the growing number of players,” he said.

At the end of my conversation,Charles mentioned that Kilimall is planning a surprise for Kenyans this Christmas season.

“Christmas for us Kenyans is normally all about family and friends.On our ‘Krisi Ibambe’ na Kilimall campaign from December the 14th to the 18th you could enjoy discounts from 50 percent off,” he promised. “So come and share in the fun, Krisi Ibambe na Kilimall.”

He added that the company has activated their delivery partnership with Posta EMS & G4S in a bid to make the process easy for their customers.



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