How online sellers are finding a lifeline in using technology

The growth of online businesses is also slowly changing the shopping culture and buying behaviour. [iStockphoto]

The growth of online businesses has continued to soar over the last few years. This has been driven largely by deep internet penetration, affordable data and the sheer zeal of young entrepreneurial minds who are leveraging the opportunities available in the online space to make a living.

Social commerce is now booming. Established as well as budding entrepreneurs are today selling and promoting their products and services through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even TikTok. Through these platforms, they are generating massive sales and moving volumes.

Margaret Wambui sells children’s clothes along Biashara Street in Nairobi CBD. She has been doing the business for five years now. The awakening moment for her was when the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020.

“During the pandemic, we hardly made any sales. I had to rethink how to manage the business. That's when I got online. Today most of our sales are through Instagram. I even had to rent a smaller shop because the majority of my customers are online,” she says

The growth of online businesses is also slowly changing the shopping culture and buying behaviour. Customers are today looking for convenience at all costs. They want to buy and get the goods delivered to them on time. Oftentimes, this comes at a cost.

“Nobody likes coming to town nowadays, I have had to rely on riders to deliver my goods. However, with time this has been challenging due to the costs involved. Some deliveries cost almost half the profit I make,” says Margaret.

Technology is slowly revolutionising e-commerce in Kenya. It is creating efficiencies and fueling the growth of many small businesses that do not have physical stores. This in turn is facilitating trade and providing a source of livelihood for a number of people.

Tech companies are working to build solutions to further assist online sellers to trade effectively and sell more goods.

Aliana Naturals manufactures skin care products. The founder and CEO Sharon Liana started the business in 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. She resonates with the challenges her fellow entrepreneurs like Margaret go through; one of the biggest nightmares being logistics and delivery.

Sharon and other online sellers opt to work with tech companies that solve the logistics, storage inventory and delivery issues that choke their business.

Sendy for instance, picks, packs and delivers orders to customers.

“Online shopping is booming, and locally owned firms are increasingly focusing their efforts on packing and shipping products to customers. We want small business owners to focus on selling and building their enterprises, customer service, and repeat business while Sendy Fulfillment's tech-enabled platform takes care of the logistics," said Chris Nyaga, Sendy Fulfillment General Manager for East Africa during the launch last year

Technology is rapidly changing the way we do business, to remain competitive, and offer much value to customers, entrepreneurs are becoming agile and embracing digitisation.

It is obvious that the opportunities are immense. How fast companies adapt to the new realities of doing business will be a key component that will determine their longevity and survival.

Tech companies have eliminated the bottlenecks that existed before and hindered effective online trade. Social media as well, has provided the platform for companies as well as individuals to build and grow successful business empires.