Online shopping in Kenya is on an upward trend due to its convenience and time-saving. Generally, online shopping, which is also known as e-commerce, is a method of trading goods and services via the internet. There are over 21 million online shoppers in Africa. A number that is even projected to continue it’s upward trend according to reports released by the United Nations Conference on Trade And Development (UNCTAD).
Kenya has also not been left behind on this trend. In fact, with 2.61 million shoppers, Kenya ranks third on the list of countries with the most online shoppers in Africa. Nigeria and South Africa come in first and second respectively.
Since 2014 the number of online shoppers in Africa has risen by 18% annually as compared to the global annual average rise of 12%. The UNCTAD report further indicates that the three top countries ( Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya) accounted for almost half of the e-commerce shoppers.
If you factor in population, the script is flipped and a different story is told all together. Nigeria has a population of 190 million. Four million online shoppers only represent 2.1% of their population. If you do the same math for South Africa ( 56.72 million people) and Kenya ( population of 49.7 million) you will find that the percentage of population per taking in online shopping is 5.16 and 5.25 respectively. This shows that based on number of online shoppers and population, Kenya has the highest absorption rate of the three top countries.
Factors promoting online shopping in Kenya
Mobile and internet penetration
According to the mobile report 2018 by Jumia, mobile subscriptions in Kenya reached 41 million with mobile penetration of the adult population at 90.4%. There are over 21 million smartphone users in Kenya. This penetration can be attributed to the availability of cheap smartphones from Asia. The high number of smartphone users form the backbone of online shopping in Kenya.
Ease of payment
Ever since M-PESA was introduced over a decade ago, money transfer in Kenya has completely transformed. It provides a safe, convenient and traceable method of transferring money. Fast forward to 2018, it is now global. To make things even better, international money transfer platforms like PayPal, Payoneer and Skrill are accessible in Kenya. With a diverse range of payment options, Kenyans can shop even in global e-commerce sites like Alibaba and amazon.
Mpesa and ease of use of other mobile and traditional money platforms has also seen more customers turn to the online shopping in Kenya.
Local online shops even offer the option of cash on delivery.
Variety and convenience
When shopping in physical retail outlets, buyers may sometimes be forced to settle for the products that are only available on their shelves. The beauty of online shopping is the ability to browse through multiple stores on your phone. Chances are you will even be spoilt for choice. After you finish shopping there’s no need to queue, all your goods will be delivered to you. Sometimes even at your door step.
Challenges of online shopping
For online shoppers to be safe, measures have to be taken to improve cybersecurity and the overall user experience. If the servers hosting the e-commerce shop are hacked, sensitive client information may compromised and used to steal their money. When shopping online, it is always better to use the bigger platforms as they are more likely to have put in place more stringent security protocols.
You can’t test products before they are delivered
For products like electronics, testing may not be a big issue. Shoes and clothes are however another story. You might pick out the perfect sneakers only to find that they are a size smaller or sometimes even not the quality they had appeared to be.
All online shops promise fast and reliable delivery. Some are notorious for doing the exact opposite. It is better not to wait till things are needed in haste to start shopping online. But if need be, make sure to check the platform reviews and customer sentiments.
Online shopping in Kenya is a retail disruptor. Even traditional supermarkets are embracing it. It allows access to a greater number of clients who also enjoy a wider variety of products. Online shopping sometimes enables buyers to access quality products at very low prices during sales. As more and more people continue to acquire smart phones and easier access to the internet, the upward trend of online shopping in Kenya will also continue.