As technology continues to revolutionize sectors across Africa, the e-commerce sector has continued to overhaul how the retail sector works, bringing hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises into contact with a huge pool of customers.
Kenya is steadily becoming one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets in Africa and globally, with a majority of traders and consumers using social media platforms to promote, sell and buy products and services.
According to a survey by Statista, the number of e-commerce users in Kenya will hit 38.07 million by 2027, representing a user penetration of 63.9% in 2027 as compared to 46.7% in 2023.
The Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK), reports that the e-commerce sector in Kenya is worth a whopping KES. 109 billion ($1.09 billion). This staggering figure indicates that the e-commerce sector is on the right path in Kenya, with projections that it will only get bigger as more Kenyans embrace online shopping.
The popularity of online shopping was further driven by the Covid pandemic, with more Kenyans preferring to shop online than to visit physical shops/stalls. Between July and September 2019, a most critical period during the COVID pandemic, KES 1.6 trillion was spent to purchase goods and services online.
Convenience is the heartbeat of the steady growth of the e-commerce sector
As life gets busier for Kenyans, the demand for convenient and on-demand shopping experiences, in the comfort of their homes, has significantly grown. Since many online stores offer the same products at the same price, convenience has become the key differentiator for many shoppers in Kenya.
Today, with more Kenyans becoming technologically savvier, the demand for convenient online shopping solutions that make life easier has been on the increase.
E-commerce amounts to time and money saved; a trend that Kenyans have quickly caught onto and are increasingly ditching the queues and traffic jams to shop online.
Domestic e-commerce players such as Sky Garden, Copia, Kilimall, Africa Sokoni, and Jumia have stepped into this space to ensure that Kenyan consumers can access quality services and goods on their mobile phones.
Platforms like Sky Garden, in partnership with Lipa Later, have gone a further step to allow consumers to purchase goods and pay in installments. These giant e-commerce players are active in Nairobi and have made it possible to access the same quality of goods across the country by even targeting rural areas.
This growing demand for convenience by Kenyan shoppers has necessitated several big retailers with physical stores to venture into the e-commerce space.
The future of E-commerce is bright
E-commerce platforms don’t just favour consumers but have helped businesses to venture and grow into the online space. Through this, SMEs can reach a wider audience without having to set up shop, hence reducing their operational costs and maximizing profits.
As the popularity of online shopping continues to soar, numerous job openings are arising for web developers, digital marketers, and logistics experts. It's like the untamed savanna, where instead of Maasai warriors, we have tech gurus and logistics maestros blazing trails in the digital frontier.
But like all good things, some challenges need to be addressed. Trust in online transactions, cybersecurity threats, and logistics challenges in rural areas are some of the issues that need to be tackled. The government and private sector need to work together to ensure that e-commerce remains a safe and accessible platform for everyone.
In conclusion, the future of e-commerce is bright and boundless. As Martin Heidegger said, it's up to us to ensure that e-commerce remains a force for good in the world. Therefore, let's embrace the magic of online shopping and keep the good times rolling!"
The writer is the Marketing Manager at Sky. Garden.