Just like any other country in the world, Kenya is alive to the fact that no country can develop without embracing technology. Days when shopping involved walking into a store (miles always from home) to buy products are long gone. Now, this does not mean that conventional shopping is dead, only that there are options and alternatives unlike in the past when physical shopping was the only means to having products.
Today especially in advanced Countries, online shopping is the real deal. Billions of dollars are spent on online stores annually. Fortunately, Kenya has not been left behind when it comes to that. Granted, the country’s technological advancement cannot come close to what you have in the middle-income economies or the ‘first world’ economies. However, Kenya has what it takes to serve her online citizens. There are online stores with virtually all you would look for in a conventional store.
Enough of the introduction let us look at what online shopping in Kenya is all about. Now that the benefits of shopping via the internet are manifest, the post goes ahead to give a guide to online shopping in Kenya. First, it is important to understand the dynamics of online shopping in the country and how to take advantage of what is available while escaping the fraudsters who happen to be everywhere.
Classification of online shopping in Kenya
As intimated before, Kenya offers one of the best varieties in the region i.e. East and Central Africa. After all, the country is the undisputed economic powerhouse around. Away from Kenya’s bragging rights, you need to note that Kenyan online base is in excess of 16 million with at least three shopping options namely:
1. Online Stores in Kenya
Just like the popular online stores such as the Amazon and eBay, Kenyans also have good and reliable online stores. These sites are secure (in terms of preserving your personal data) and avail many payment options. They also have return policy and offer free delivery within the major cities especially Nairobi. Above all, most shops have powerful customer support, guarantee on all purchases and provide after-sale service.
If you were looking for qualities of a good online store in Kenya then the above features are what you should concentrate on. It is not always good to depend on pitched adverts on TV, Radios and on the Print Media. Instead, you should depend on word of mouth from friends, relatives and past customers’ review of the shop. While there are dozens of online shops, we will only look at a few examples to paint the nature of the Market:
Jumia is arguably the most popular online shop in Kenya. Well, almost every other online shop claims the same. Before we delve into the products by Jumia Kenya, you may want to know that the Company is part of Africa Internet Holding (a group interested in furthering the use of Internet in Africa). Why is that important to know anyway? Well, if an online company has a powerful ‘godfather’ it is deemed stable and reliable therefore. Take an example of companies like Alexa which is owned by the leading online store in the world i.e. Amazon. In other words, Jumia Kenya is reliable and is not disappearing soon.
Are you a fashionista, tech geek or just a trendy person? Well, Jumia appears to have what you need. There are gadgets, clothing and beauty products of all sorts at some of the most competitive prices in the market. This coupled with the fact that they have mobile payment and nationwide shipping makes the Jumia one of your best online shopping options. As mentioned before, you need a company (online or conventional) to be accessible. Well, it must be said that Jumia does not disappoint as it has a 24-hour customer support.
You are probably wondering how to buy your first item at Jumia? No need to vex yourself; the process is as simple as visiting jumia.co.ke, selecting your product, registering, choosing a payment option and having your products delivered. It does not matter where you are in Kenya, you phone or jacket will be delivered within 2-3days. The delivery is even faster when you are in Nairobi. Now, that is all about Jumia Kenya for now, you might want to know more from their site.
You might have seen some adverts on TV or Newspaper about Rupu. If you are yet to see any ad then know that the Rupu is the other one-stop online shop in Kenya. For starters, it is a subsidiary of the Swiss media giant Ringier AG. So, just like Jumia, Rupu is reliable and backed by reputable parent company. Online shopping in Kenya, as mentioned before, offers the shopper unmatched variety. For instance, Rupu is not restricted to Fashion and electronics but instead gives the buyers an all-under-one-roof experience.
You want to have lunch in a nice restaurant and know nothing of the prices; Rupu is the site to visit. Better still, the site offers discounts on every purchase you make. In most cases, you will get up to 30% off your purchase.
At rupu.co.ke, you will find amazing deals on Restaurants, Travel Packages, Fashion, Electronics, Leisure and Beauty products. Even items and products pertaining to home and living are available at Rupu. It is not farfetched to say that Rupu has what you need at unimaginable discounts. The customer support is also good as long as you make the contact from 8:00 am – 6:45 pm on weekdays and 9:00am – 4:00pm on Saturdays. While this is not your 24-hour online store, Rupu still has what you need during the day. They also promise free delivery for any item over 1000/- as long as you are in Nairobi. Why not visit Rupu and discover some amazing discounts on the items you want?
You must have heard of LG or are even using their products. Well, Hotpoint is LG’s and gives you a chance to buy your LG electronics at discounts from the comfort of your living room. You do not have to take a bus to town and walk into a supermarket for your home theatre anymore. Simply visit hotpoint.co.ke and choose your product for very detailed products descriptions and images. It will be freely delivered if you live within the Nairobi Metropolitan. As expected, an ISO Certified company must have a service center, reliable customer support and guarantee on every good sold. Well, LG’s Hotpoint does not disappoint at all.
A screenshot of an item listed on the Hotpoint Kenya Site
HotPoint even allows you to pay for your goods via Pesapal or Direct bank deposit whichever is more comfortable. The bank deposit is also not restricted to one entity; you have Barclays, CfC Stanbic, KCB and I&M Bank to choose from. Now, other online stores include mamamikes, shopxpress and MIMI among others.
2. Free Classifieds sites in Kenya
This is probably one of the most trending categories when it comes to online shopping in Kenya. Not only are there hundreds of products being posted on a daily basis but evidence of transactions are also there. Before you jump to the conclusion that OLX introduced free classifieds in Kenya, perish the thought, as there were many before them. The said player might have just contributed to the publicity of free online classifieds in Kenya.
How do they make money from the sites, after all, no one is starting a site without necessarily planning to gain from its activity? Well, the classifieds site gains through sponsored adverts. There are sites that also run Google, Yahoo, Infolinks, Chitika and Bing ads next to your free ads. Any purchase from the sponsored ads earns the owners some commission. So, the more visitors to a site the more chances of ad clicks and the more money they stand to make. Here are some popular free classified sites in Kenya you may want to visit:
What makes an online classifieds a success is the ability to regulate what is posted on it. A good classifieds site should also avail to the buyer ways to contact them and not just the seller. Now, that is what Adgraft does to the buyers. You are certain that what is listed on this site is available, meet the exact quality and will be delivered. Their moderators have a way of handling claims from the site users and taking punitive measures against dubious sellers.
Better still; Adgraft is not limited to online shopping in Kenya alone but covers East Africa. You can therefore use the site to promote your products across wider region. What makes Adgraft even better does not stop at the number of users on the site but the fact that you are protected as a buyer. As a Kenyan, it is highly possible that unscrupulous people will want to take advantage of your ignorance or naivety. This means even an innocent online shopper like you can land in the hands of this conmen if they are not protected.
OLX is one of the most publicized classified sites in Kenya. The Company is global with similar sites in India and the US among other countries. It appears OLX aims to a have a free classified site in every country to promote online shopping and job listing.
Most Kenyans know about and use OLX . Now, even the first timers will admit that it is one of the easiest sites to use. For starters, they have an app, which makes it easier for mobile users to navigate OLX. You simply login, use the search bar to look for what you want and contact the seller. An example would be searching for a laptop for KES 20,000. Now, from the hundreds of results, some are invalid. Invalid because some advertisers do not pull down the ads even after selling.
The best way to narrow down your search would be to choose location and only browse the most recent ads. Also, go for products with photos, contacts and detailed descriptions. Just like most classified, you contact the seller and finalize the deal on your own. You should make sure meet the seller on neutral place more so when the purchase involves lots of cash. You can never rule out conmen and criminals on OLX, can you?
3. Social Media Classified groups
Facebook and Twitter are the most popular social networks in Kenya though some smartphone users are moving to apps like WhatsApp and Viber. The online shopping stores in Kenya and the listed Free Classifieds sites are not the only options for the Kenyan online shopper. In fact, the online shopping in Kenya is very active on Facebook. Groups and pages have been started for members to post ads and for buyers to find what they want.
Only deal with people you know at a personal level or recommended to you by a trusted friend
Meet the seller in public joints. Always choose Nairobi CBD (if you are in Nairobi); just make sure you are meeting in a very public place.
Never carry cash; it is preferable that you put your money on MPESA etc. This does not just protect you from unscrupulous sellers, but also other criminals who would want to feast on your hard-earned cash.
Ask for a copy of national ID, Phone Number and Residential address of the seller. Have them put in a small contract agreement (in writing) with you. This is your only warrantee unless you are buying from a company with official receipts.
Above all, make sure your are not buying a dead item especially when it comes to phones. Test the phone or laptop and check if the specs are what the seller claimed on Facebook. This rule applies to all the categories of online shopping in Kenya!
Now here are some popular ‘Facebook Shopping Malls’:
Soko Ya Facebook – Has over 70,000 members and is open to everyone. They have some lenient admin
Soko Kuu – Has over 60,000 active members. You can join anytime, no conditions
Soko Nyeusi – Be very careful with this group as the name betrays it all. Anyway you can still find a genuine seller among the over 50,000 members
Enjoy your online shopping in Kenya and share in the benefits that comes with technology.