Ecommerce in Kenya and you as the greatest challenge

Ecommerce in Kenya

There was a time Kenya was thought to be the leading country in Africa as far as ecommerce adoption is concerned. Recent reports however indicate that Nigeria is the new king followed by South Africa and Kenya comes a distant third. The reports come at a time when it is being rumoured that Nigeria is on track to take over the tech crown from Kenya to become the most tech savvy country in Africa; and given that one important metric used to measure tech savvyness of a country is ecommerce success in that country, then news that Nigeria is the new king of ecommerce cannot be good for Kenya.

But the truth is that ecommerce in Kenya is not as vibrant as one would expect. Indulge me for a moment – when you think about ecommerce in Kenya, which guys immediately come to your mind as the kings and queens of the business? OLX? Jumia? Cheki? Pigiame? Mamamikes? Rupu? How popular do you expect those guys to be on social media? They should have hundred of thousands of likes and followers? Similar to the likes and following celebrities, popular brands and favoured TV shows have, right? You’ll be surprised.

OLX Kenya – This is the default online classifieds site in Kenya, thus not a true ecommerce platform. The reason it is not an ecommerce business unit is because its sole purpose it to link buyers and sellers, then the buyer and seller can transact off-line or online depending on the arrangement between them. Still, OLX has the biggest social media appreciation having more than 700,000 Facebook likes and takes position 24 in Kenya under ranking making it the sixth most preferred local website by Kenyans. On Twitter however, OLX has a different story. After being on Twitter since May 2012, OLX has managed to gain slightly less than 4,000 followers.

Pigiame – This is the OLX competition and are operated by Ringier. They haven’t invested on media ads as heavily as OLX but their focus on “buy-it” instead of the OLX’s approach of “sell-it” (see OLX Kenya should also promote buy-it slogan) seem to be giving them an upper edge in social media interactions. Although they have only 142,000 likes on Facebook and 2000 followers on Twitter, their typical social media updates receive more engagement. – Cheki is similar to OLX but only links car sellers to buyers. When it comes to cars, Kenyans love them more than books (see text book centre below). Over 60,000 Kenyans like Facebook Page and over 2,000 follow them on Twitter. There used to be a time that reading was the gateway to quality driving. Things change. This might explain why Kenya drivers are the worst globally.

Jumia Kenya – This is the most preferred local ecommerce website in Kenya, taking position 15 in’s ranking and the third most preferred local website. But the story is very different when it comes to social media appreciation. You won’t believe this but only 6,500 Kenyans like Jumia Kenya’s Facebook Page with exactly similar number following them on Twitter.

BataKenya– is a longtime shoe manufacturer and retailer in Kenya. Their products have stood the test of time and proven to work. To market their brand, they have tried their best to popularize their brand online. They have over 71,000 likes on Facebook and over 9,000 followers on twitter.

Text Book Centre -Text Book Centre (TBC) is the biggest and most diversified book-seller in Africa.The firm supplies general books and educational materials to professionals, schools, colleges, universities, international organizations and non-government and government organizations countrywide.They only have about 8000 likes on Facebook and a mere 900 followers on twitter. You thought it was a myth that Kenyans don’t read?

Hellofood  – Hellofood is an online platform where people can easily order food online and have it delivered to them in no time at their home or in the office. They have 12,000 likes on Facebook and 1,745 followers on twitter.

FargoShopping – You were once told that Fargo Shopping was going to change the e-commerce landscape in Kenya. According to social media appreciation though, and given that is yet to recognize them in Alexa ranking algorithm, they have many many miles to go. They only have 2,100 likes on Facebook and 68 followers on Twitter. – This is another by Ringier and a direct competition to Jumia Kenya. Although not as popular by web traffic as Jumia Kenya, they have over 156,000 Facebook likes and 13.5K Twitter followers.

There you go Kenyans, you show more love to non-ecommerce platforms like OLX and Cheki that allow you to shop offline, and almost no love to pure ecommerce players like Jumia. My conclusion is that you do not like the idea of shopping online – and I mean shopping, not window shopping.

If there is one thing that’s clear, the ecommerce players have tried their best to make products and services available online. It is you and probably me that have failed to do online shopping as expected. What is the hindering you? What are you scared of? Are you scared of losing money? Is the delivery time too long? Are the savings too little? Is Internet too expensive? Is shopping via mobile phones too tedious? Is publicity by ecommerce players lacking? Or is it that we don’t have physical addresses for deliveries to be effected? Talk to us. Tell us why you still shy away from shopping online.

In the next article, we will try and discuss those hindrances one by one and show you why you must change your attitude towards ecommerce in Kenya. In the meantime I ask, do you want us to remain in the number one position as the most tech savvy country in Africa? You only need to do one thing – shop online. For instance, don’t go to the supermarkets, both Naivas and Uchumi have working online shopping portals.

Odipo Riaga1804 Posts

Film Director, Tech and Business Blogger, Chess Player, and Photographer. God is Science.


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