By Macharia Kamau
Retailer Nakumatt Holdings is rolling out an online shopping service that it said will be operational early next year. The service will allow a shopper to select and purchase goods from the retailer’s website that it is redoing to fit the online shopping model.
The shopping will then be transported to the customer’s preferred location. The firm said it is currently talking to a courier firm that will do the door-to-door deliveries. Ajay Kumar, Nakumatt chief technology officer said the courier firm would work out the modalities of delivery of goods in areas that do not have organised address system, especially residential areas.
He also said a partnership with global payments firm Mastercard to transform Nakumatt smart cards into prepaid Mastercards will sort out the issue of payment mode for online purchase. Payments gateways have been among the factors that have seen limited uptake of on online shopping.
Kumar added that the firm is also working on strengthening its connectivity to ensure that customers are able to transact online without interruptions.
“Connectivity is one of the biggest challenges that we face at the moment. We cannot afford downtime especially when handling credit cards. We have a main provider and a back up but that is still not enough because there have been instances where we end up without connectivity,” Mr Kumar said in an interview.
“We are currently evaluating providers and once that is in place I think that we will have enough redundancy and can start with the online shopping service... at the moment we are looking at having everything in place in four months time and we can roll out then.”
“There is a market for online shopping in Kenya but has not been exploited and those that have attempted have been hindered by certain challenges like logistics but we are trying to factor everything before launch.”
The retailer was ranked number three during last year’s CIO100 awards, an award’s scheme that identifies firms that have entrenched technology in to their operations.
Kumar added that other than the local market, the Nakumatt looking at the Diaspora, where users abroad can make purchases for their family and friends back in Kenya and the products would be delivered to them.
The retailer recently partnered with Mastercard and plans to re-issue the Nakumatt smart cards with a multi-currency MasterCard prepaid loyalty card.
The chain has one million smart card holders. Kumar said the card would be key in enabling shoppers to make their purchases online.
The adoption of credit card has been low in Kenya, although there has been an attempt to incorporate mobile money payment platforms such as M-Pesa into online shopping.