Business between Kenya and China has skyrocketed in the past few years thanks to the “go-east” slogan. The effect has seen proliferation of
cheap affordable Chinese products most of which are of substandard quality. It’s not just the Chinese that come here as expatriates that have brought with them the Chinese products, but Kenyans seeking to maximize profits have traveled to China to source for low cost goods that they then sell for a good margin but still at a lower price point compared to the higher quality competing products from Japan, Europe and US.
The Kenyan consumer therefore has been disadvantaged as she has to pay higher to cater for the travel cost and profit margins to the business men and women that bring the goods to this country. To further lower the cost of these Chinese goods, a Chinese e-commerce portal, Chinabuy, has been launched in Kenya. Chinabuy is unlike the the other e-commerce platforms like Jumia or OLX that you are accustomed to which link buyers to retailers or wholesalers, but it is a unique platform in that it provides direct link between the buyer and the manufacturer – hence eliminating the wholesaler and/or the retailer middle men.
As a Kenyan therefore, you will now be able to go to Chinabuy.co.ke, a localized platform for the Chinabuy Group, and be able to purchase items directly from the Chinese manufacturers. For instance, if you head to the website right now, you will be able to buy Apparel, Cell Phones, Health and Beauty Products, Cars and Accessories, and a number of other items straight from the various Chinese manufactures.
“Our online platform works to give our customers, 24/7 easy access to a vast array of products at very competitive prices. We offer flexible payment platforms like Mobile Money, PayPal, Credit Cards and other preferred payment for the convenience of our customers, with a safe and secure process” said the founder and CEO of the Chinabuy Group, Mr. Joe Zhang
In a statement sent to Kachwanya.com, Chinabuy explained that Kenyan online shoppers can find over one million products from all categories such as men, children and women clothing and much more and be able to purchase of items directly from Chinese manufacturers and from other large Chinese online e-commerce sites which have exclusive agreement with Chinabuy. After one has purchased an item via Chinabuy.co.ke, the item will be collected from the manufacturer and sent to the buyer via the Chinabuy Group Logistic Centre in China which also ensures that strict quality checks on the products are done.
Don’t be excited just yet
First off, Chinabuy.co.ke is not a pleasant website neither is it friendly to use. Scrolling down feels tiresome and the rendering of items on the site feels crowded. I don’t like their endless listings in menus and sub-menus some of which are not visible when the sub-menus pop up on mouse highlight. The site is also very slow compared to the e-commerce sites you are used to.
Secondly the items on Chinabuy.co.ke are not any cheaper compared to the same items on Jumia.co.ke. There are price variations here and there but with a few hundreds – sometimes the few hundreds being on the expensive side. Now, who wants to save a few hundred shillings (e.g. Kshs 120) and wait for over a month for an item to come all the way from China when Jumia.co.ke promises same day delivery within Nairobi and up to two days for deliveries outside Nairobi? (Note: That’s what Jumia promises. In practice, deliveries can take as long as three weeks).
Take an example of Huawei Ascend P8. The phone sells for Kshs 52,897 at Chinabuy.co.ke but you will get the same exact phone for Kshs 5,000 cheaper at Kshs 47,000 in Jumia.co.ke. In a few instances though, like in the case of Cubot H1 5.5 inches smartphone, you will spend Kshs 21,000 on Jumia but only part with Kshs 18,174 on Chinabuy thereby saving almost Kshs 3,000.
So no, the elimination of wholesalers and retailers hasn’t make Chinabuy.co.ke any cheaper than what we already have locally. Buying the same items on OLX would be several thousand cheaper as most OLX sellers are end consumers who are selling the products as used items (second hand).
For Chinabuy to be competitive in Kenya, they need to closely monitor the prices being offered by the other e-commerce platforms like Jumia, BidorBuy, Pigiame, OLX, and the others.