Is Fargoshopping the e-commerce game changer in Kenya?

Written by
  • 4 years ago
  • Posted: August 22, 2014 at 1:11 pm

There are two days I really long for – the day there will be zero need to visit a bank (banks should cease to be physical – and this is a topic for another day), and the day I can do an actual household shopping from the comfort of my home. I am really tired of going to the supermarkets and worse queuing in the slowest moving queues to pay for the shopping.

I once heard a story about shopping in Western world. According to the story, there are some Western supermarkets (they are called malls or something?) that have online shopping portals that allow customers to virtually shop as if playing a video game using their mice. The virtual shopping experience is designed such that one directs his virtual self from one shelf to the next, pick items from the shelves, stock them in the trolley, drive the trolley to the teller, the virtual teller does what they normally do, and the payment is completed using a credit card, or if it were Kenya, PesaPal or M-PESA.

I haven’t come across such a scenario online, but what I have seen are lists of items that can be bought, put in a cart, and paid for using credit or debit cards. But these are still missing in Kenya. Just the other day I was wondering loud why the big names in the supermarket sub-sector such as Nakumatt, Tuskys, Naivas, and Uchumi do not have online shopping portals. Is it an issue with delivery? I don’t think so.

Right now if you go to most of these supermarkets and buy highly valued items like furniture or electronics and spend a given minimum on them, then the delivery is promised – free if you stay within a given radius from the supermarket, or for a fee for every extra kilometer away from the predetermined free zone.

So why can’t these supermarkets put up an online shopping portal where one is required to shop online but delivery will be done for those who spend a certain minimum?

But again guys like jumia.co.ke, rupu.co.ke, yum.co.ke and now fargoshopping.co.ke. are challenging such a model. These e-commerce portals are promising to deliver any items bought from their sites – and fargoshopping is venturing into the market with an entirely new model. Although e-commerce platforms such as jumia.co.ke largely sell their own merchandise, fargoshopping is coming into the market as a bridge between e-commerce and online market place (for the differences between online market place and e-commerce platforms, read Top players in Kenya’s Online Businesses Part 1 and Top players in Kenya’s Online Businesses Part 2).

Instead of just allowing the listing of own merchandise, Fargoshopping is also in competition with online market places like OLX, Pigiame and others. This is because just as OLX and Pigiame are encouraging sellers (individuals, businesses or corporates) to list their items on sale on OLX or Pigiame, Fargoshopping is encouraging businesses and corporates to list their items on sale on fargoshopping.co.ke, and again just as OLX and Pigiame, for free.

Content is the king

If you can remember, I had written an article encouraging OLX to start running more and more ads encouraging Kenyans to “buy it” rather than “sell it”. Read – OLX Kenya should also promote buy-it slogan. Then I had a chance to interact with OLX team during their Second BAKE OLX Experience that was held at Nailab. In that function, OLX gave a detailed comment on why it is hard to promote “buy it slogan”, have millions of Kenyans flood the site, but find no items to buy. This is in line with a comment posted on the “OLX Kenya should also promote buy-it slogan” article, which stated:

Have you realized that it’s a content game. Content is king in any classifieds business. So, say OLX promotes the buy it slogan instead of sell it…what will these buyers go to buy on OLX if there is no one selling stuff?Promoting the sell it slogan as you call it ensures that there is always content on the site and not just content but FRESH content. That way anyone looking to buy something is always assured of finding it.

And this is where an online market place website such as OLX has a serious mileage over e-commerce platforms. Strict e-commerce businesses will only major on selling own products and service, and this raises the question, “how often can one generate own fresh content?”.

Fargoshopping seems to have seen this and decided to well, allow the businesses interested in availing their contents online to list such items, for free, at Fargoshopping.co.ke then let Fargoshopping deal with the rest.

The delivery question

In my examination of online businesses in Kenya, I outlined two challenges facing the e-commerce industry and the second one dealt with supply and delivery chains. For one to be successful in this sector, one must invest in ensuring constant supply of items (remember content is king) and also put in a lean but efficient delivery network. Someone in Wajir or Turkana buys a product, are you able to deliver the same to him within the shortest time possible without incurring outrageous costs?

And this is where Fargoshopping has another advantage over e-commerce competitors. Guys like OLX and Pigiame do not want to involve themselves in the nightmare of delivery since they only link up the buyer and the seller. It is up to the buyer and seller to agree on how they will get the goods delivered. But Fargoshopping, after allowing you to list your items on their site, takes the delivery hustle and promises to deliver to the buyer’s door. In their website, they promise free delivery within Kenya. The delivery is done by the Fargo Courier, a renowned logistic and transport brand in the country.

fargoshopping

 

Warehousing nightmare

Yes you want to venture into e-commerce. You have sorted the supply chain problem and even partnered with a courier company to sort the delivery issues. But how do you deal with warehousing? After all your fresh content must be stored somewhere – and still you don’t have the millions to the billions of shilling to set up a proper warehouse. So you decide to list your items on Fargoshopping – for free.

Your listing generate more and more enquiries that now require you to have a warehouse somewhere, but as you start to have a stressful day, you realize that Fargoshopping, apart from offering you the free listing and promising to do the delivery for you, also wants to store your merchandise in their own warehouses – well, not for free this time but I think for a “worth it” fee.

Back to supermarkets

Let me now talk to the big supermarkets – the Tuskys and Nakumatt and Uchumi and Naivas – when will you guys open up your own portals for our online shopping experience like the big supermarkets elsewhere in the world? Or why don’t you just open up e-shops at Fargoshopping?

You guys won’t need to worry about delivery, if that’s what has been keeping you away from the online world. And you already have sorted both the supply and warehousing problems. I truly would like to be in a position where I can do my shopping from the comfort of my office, pay for the goods via M-PESA, and someone like Fargo Courier brings the goods to my home. I hate walking up and down the supermarkets’ walkways looking for items or even asking your attendants where to get this or that – and I hate lining up, and it always happen to be the slowest moving queue, to pay for my shopping.

Yes, you may put a minimum amount to be spent for online shopping, be it 5K or something to prevent guys from buying a 50 cent sweet and expect free delivery.

Why Fargoshopping is a game changer

Fargoshopping seem to have started just the other day judging by the ranking it has on Alexa.com. As per the time of writing this article, the site was ranked at position 7,081,910 globally and not ranked in Kenya. Compared to the strongest players that are ranked at position 50,216 and 49 in Kenya for Jumia.co.ke and 65,433 globally and 91 in Kenya for Rupu.co.ke, then they still have a long way to go.

But the fact that Fargoshopping has an already well established delivery network, proper warehousing facilities, and now that it allows other businesses to list their merchandise on the site, then this is the e-commerce platform that can truly change the shopping experience for Kenyans.

AND, if Fargoshopping can bring the big supermarkets into their portal and find out how to efficiently and effectively enable the hundreds of thousands of Kenyans who do their monthly or weekly shopping from the supermarkets to shop from home or office, then they shall have forever changed the shopping experience in Kenyans.

What is your opinion on the topic?
Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Analytics Ltd
---
Odipo Riaga is a Technology Blogger interested in emerging tech such as VR and AR, AI, Life Extension, Exponential Biotech, Immortality, Cyborgs and many others.
Odipo Riaga on FacebookOdipo Riaga on LinkedinOdipo Riaga on Twitter
Article Categories:
OPINION · STARTUPS

Comments