You probably rolled your eyes at the topic, but hey it got you here, that’s what matters. When eCommerce comes to mind many think of platforms such as OLX, Killimall, Jumia, Mall 4 Africa, VituMob just to name a few.
However, it’s important to note that eCommerce is generally business transactions over the internet. It could be a receiving or rendering goods/services as long as it’s over the internet. So congratulations to those who spam our WhatsApp pages with their second-hand dung, you’re an ecommercer.
Facts and figures
While doing research for this article, the figures were mind blowing. Why? Well first off I’m in this industry – have been running ndutahsgifts.co.ke for a while – and according to the figures I’ve only done about 0.04% penetration into the market.
According to the Communications Authority’s Sector Statistics, Internet subscriptions grew by 8.2% to 26.8 million during the quarter under review up from 24.8 million subscriptions recorded last quarter. Significantly, Google’s Consumer Barometer indicates that Kenya now has 22 million Internet users which is an increase of 4% over the last 2 years.
I know you schemed through those facts but let me put it in perspective for you, with our estimated population of 49 million it translates to 1 out of every 2 Kenyan have access to the internet be it through phone or PC (or smoke signals). Access makes them potential customers but before you quit your day job to sell livestock online, carry on to the end.
4 key factors you wouldn’t foresee
Many people think by simply starting a page on social media or third party platforms, uploading a few product images they’ve secured their place in this niche. Well you’re in for a big surprise of misery
Like any traditional business you need to keep books. I’m referring to an inventory, balance statements, invoices, delivery notes, accounts receivable… blah blah the whole lot of it.
Why you ask? Well because of tax (topic for another day) and also because you need to see if you’re making any money off your venture. Such accounts aid you in tracking progress. Invoicing and accounting apps are free and available online. I would personally recommend Wave.
“It’s not enough to be seen; put in a little more effort to make yourself pretty”
If you have read Seth Godin’s Purple Cow (2003), you know exactly why this is of significant impact. Some idiots think buying prime time on air or prime billboards will get us to purchase their products. Well, all it does is create awareness. Same thing when running ads on Instagram or Facebook. It’s not enough to be seen; put in a little more effort to make yourself pretty.
Think of it like timing that hot neighbor who leaves for work at exactly 7 am every morning, how will you catch their eye? It’s all about understanding what appeals to them? What do they need? What you can offer them? I know it sounds sexual but you get the drift.
The above image basically shows the daily struggle of engaging a Kenyan audience. Don’t get me wrong I love my clientele and any potential clients, but for people who have energy to create memes and troll on social media we sure do get lazy when it comes to online shopping.
Most online stores are straightforward; navigate through categories, select item, quantity add to cart, check out.
Most people make it to select item before calling the helpline or worse still whatsapping the image and stating they’d like to place an order. So brace yourself, brands may beam about being online shops but it comes with late night/early morning calls, dissatisfied customers who will shout to the heavens how they didn’t get what they ordered, impatient clients who want instant replies. You don’t even know half of it.
Product/service Quality Control
As your online shop grows, you may decide to get assistance and hire someone who’s better or can be trained to be better at something you do. I strongly feel like this is where the cracks begin to show. I mean look at JavaHouse quality control was easier before franchising, despite its rapid growth in locations, food isn’t as good as a few years back.
I know a lady who has built her nails parlor through social media and business is booming but when I inquired about a second branch she said she wouldn’t venture into it due to this very factor.
Aside from new team members, large quantities of product or a wider variety of services may also cause you to have a decline in the high standards in quality.
2 key lessons
E-commerce goes beyond just posting
There’s so much more to it:
- do the work put in the hours,
- understand your target market,
- know your product,
- know/train your team.
It’s quite possible the E in eCommerce is for effort. Furthermore paid ads won’t ascertain sales.
Don’t do it for the sake of it
People view this venture as a side hustle, it may be for a while but have a clear vision for what your end goal is. The sad part about the visibility the internet gives you is that competitors may take up that product or service and seek to undercut you, so keep evolving, it’s the only way to survive as a brand.
Did I leave out any key factors? Feel free to comment below or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org