E-commerce gaining popularity in Kenya as mobile phone technology grows

Online-based payment platforms have made e-commerce increasingly popular in Kenya.

Tuesday January 19 2016

As e-commerce grows thanks to mobile phone

As e-commerce grows thanks to mobile phone technology, logistic companies like DHL have a crucial role of ensuring goods purchased online are delivered to their destinations of choice in time. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JAMES KARIUKI
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E-commerce prospects in Kenya have gone a notch higher following the active involvement of delivery companies in the transactions mix.

Global logistics companies DHL and G4S which have strong local presence now provide their customers with an inspection service for all online goods before payments are effected and real-time tracking ability to monitor movement of parcels from dispatch point to the delivery office.

DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa Vice-President of Operations Oliver Facey expressed optimism that e-commerce was experiencing steady growth in Kenya “especially in light of consumers having increased access to the Internet through mobile phone technology and a fast growing middle class.

Mr Facey said increased use of mobile phone-based and online-based payment platforms had made e-commerce shopping experience increasingly popular in Kenya.

G4S Secure Logistics Director Geoffrey Mwombe said their partnership with online marketplace OLX would enhance customer trust and reliability where goods will be paid for once receipt of the goods for dispatch to the buyer is confirmed.

OLX country manager Peter Nding’ui said that safety and reliability of online platforms had now been enhanced by incorporating logistics firms into the transaction mix.

“The seller and the buyer hardly meet but there is a new player whose role is to receive the product being bought for onward transmission.

“This will triple transactions as no buyer will send money to an unknown person” said Mr Ndiang’ui.

PAY ATTENTION TO SUPPLY CHAINS

Mr Facey added that retailers must now grow their niche in e-commerce by paying careful attention to their supply chains to ensure their online portals can be trusted by buyers to deliver items paid for within the stipulated time.

“Kenyans could spend more money on online platforms if goods purchased would be delivered to their destinations of choice, mostly upcountry. That is where we come in as a logistics company to fulfil this need,” he said.

DHL, he said, had invested heavily in training its staff and agents in various parts of the country to help it meet demands by their clients, adding that they were in talks with various retailers on the mode of dispatch and delivery.

“E-commerce stores need to ensure that logistics platforms are effectively managed as failure to deliver goods has the potential to do more harm than good,” he warned.

Mr Mwombe on the other hand said that G4S was well placed to serve Kenyan’s from its 141 offices spread across the country and guaranteed customers that any goods received at their offices would be at the point of collection within 12 hours.

Speaking during the OLX-G4S partnership deal at new Stanley Hotel, the G4S director said that the three-month pilot phase to be conducted in Nairobi would see G4S deliver goods at doorsteps where the buyer and seller will communicate details of a security question to be included with the dispatch.

DHL’s vice-president said that retailers also need to ensure their supply chain management is agile enough to handle the increased volume as well as an effective reverse logistical support mechanism to manage returns.

Kenya boasts of several 24 hour parcels and logistics support services among them G4S Securicor Kenya, Wells Fargo, DHL and Postal Corporation of Kenya’s EMS Service.

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