Safaricom ventures into online retail with Masoko

Safaricom ventures into online retail with Masoko
Pedestrians walk past a mobile phone care centre operated by Kenyan's telecom operator Safaricom in the central business district of Kenya's capital Nairobi, May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Telecom operator Safaricom has finally launched its e-commerce platform Masoko as it seeks to grow its presence in the retail sector.

The teleco has already signed up 200 vendors offering 20,000 different products ranging from electronics, mobile phones to everyday household goods.

As it makes its foray, Safaricom faces strong competition from the likes of Kilimall, OLX and Jumia which already has over 5,000 vendors registered on its platform with plans for expansion.

Safaricom strategy director Joseph Ogutu said despite the competition, Kenya’s e-commerce market remains virtually untapped with Safaricom keen to fill in the blanks left by its rivals.

“Masoko hopes to unlock the untapped e-commerce market in Kenya by connecting consumers, merchants and vendors to each other using a powerful online portal,” Mr Ogutu said.

Safaricom is banking on its vast data bank on consumer behavior patterns to push its Masoko platform.

Mr Ogutu said Masoko will look to sign up small vendors in a bid to grow their businesses by providing a countrywide market for their goods.

“By leveraging the strength and reach of our network, our customer base, and a number of partnerships with vendors, we hope to create a solution that can power the next phase of growth for the Kenyan economy,” he said.

Safaricom has partnered with Fargo courier service and other leading logistics companies to make sure deliveries are done within the shortest time possible.

Retailers are increasingly growing their online presence in a bid to reach a changing customer demographic who are also looking for delivery of purchased goods.

Globally, Masoko will compete with the likes of Alibaba and Amazon.

The Masoko platform will give Safaricom a new revenue base as it builds on its data and mobile money services to venture into new businesses.

In its half year performance, revenue from data stood at Sh17.5 billion while M-Pesa generated Sh30.5 billion.

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