TLDR: Masoko.com is no longer the e-commerce platform you know, or thought. Safaricom has ended Vendor support, and the only things you can currently get are phones from Safaricom Shop. This is like a eulogy to the platform that was, or could have become.
When was the last time you visited Masoko.com? What are the changes you’ve seen? Or rather, have you noticed things are pretty different? Well, here’s a screen-grab of the site right now:
There’s no 3rd party vendors. There’s nothing listed apart from phones, and phone accessories. It’s like an online Safaricom Shop. And if you’re wondering what happened to the online Safaricom Shop website, well, it directs you to Masoko.com.
Last year, on this exact date 8th November 2018, I sat down and wrote a post detailing things I imagined Safaricom would do differently with Masoko.com. The post was published on 9th November, titled What I dreamt Masoko by Safaricom would become. I received no serious feedback on that piece.
This year, during the Full Year Results 2019 reading, the company acknowledged that they made mistakes with Masoko, and that they’re re-working the idea afresh.
As it stands, it seems the re-work didn’t succeed. Or wasn’t approved. Or something else is going on behind the scenes. Because, as it stands the original Masoko is gone. Remember I was first to have an article on the new venture, titled 10 Things to know about Masoko. This was before the site even went live. And one of the most important things was: a. Safaricom doesn’t stock anything, and b. Merchants (anyone who wanted to sell) could sign up for free. That is all now, seemingly, gone.
In an official email (dated 5th November) to vendors notifying them of the discontinuation of the service, Safaricom has said over the last two years they’ve been challenged, and have learnt lessons.
Here’s the full email:
Two years ago we set out on a journey to open an online market place for Kenyan entrepreneurs.
During this journey we provided you with an opportunity to sell products on our platform. Together, we challenged ourselves along the way and learnt important lessons.
To build on these learnings and prepare to serve you better in the future, we are making changes on our marketplace, which will among others, see a reduction on number of products available on sale in our platform. Consequently, this is to notify you that your products are amongst those affected and therefore we will not offer your products for sale within the next 7 days.
We will reach out to you to handle any returns arising from sales made during this transition period, and share closing reconciliations on your account. Kindly raise any queries or concerns related to your account to email@example.com by 30th November, 2019.
Thank you for the partnership that we have had with you. We will keep your contacts with us and promise to get in touch should we require to increase the range of products on offer.
I had many things in mind I thought Safaricom would do with Masoko. If they thought outside the box, the story would be different. But I guess things just don’t work out well with big companies.
Masoko could slowly be joining other recent ventures from Safaricom that have failed to take off including:
- M-Pesa 1-Tap: Remember that idea? You can however still use your card to pay for parking etc.
- Bonga (Zwuup!): A complete failure from Alpha innovation team.
Recently, when celebrating their 19th birthday, Safaricom dropped the “TWAWEZA” motto which means “TOGETHER WE CAN”. I saw it as an odd move given, their previous motto “THE BETTER OPTION” had stuck for many years, and “TWAWEZA” was only here for less than three years, if I’m not wrong.
The new motto is “SIMPLE, TRANSPARENT, HONEST. FOR YOU”. Which is an oddly long, and oddly boring slogan. But with the slow imminent death of Masoko, perhaps everything now makes sense.
TWAWEZA came in when Safaricom has started defining itself as not just a Telecommunications Company, but a PLATFORM. A platform where many more things could happen. This was when Safaricom Home Fibre started, this was when Masoko came in. This was when an Alpha Innovation Team was built.
Perhaps, the re-brand to being SIMPLE, TRANSPARENT, and HONEST comes at a time when Safaricom thinks it’s better to get back to easier things that have worked? Like Voice and Data with the new non-expiring bundles? Or like M-Pesa and loans with the talk of lowering interest rates? I don’t know.