How to set up an online shop for free

James Munyeira (left) Head of ECommerce and Dayvee Ngugi, Projects Director, Paytree Group Limited. [Elvis Ogina. Standard]

With five per cent penetration rate, online shopping seems to be making inroads into Kenya. Most businesses strapped for cash to build an e-commerce site, sell their goods through platforms like Amazon.

How about selling your goods through a locally custom-made online shop?, a venture by Paytree Group Limited seeks to revolutionise online shopping.

Davyee Ngungi and James Munyeria are some of the brains behind this initiative and they say it is the way online business is headed.

“Ours is an online e-business platform which gives investments a free online shop specifically customized to each single business,” explains Ngugi, Paytree’s project director.

In this way, the buyers get to buy directly from the business without passing through a third party like most online platforms. “It’s more like setting up your own shop tailored to your specifications.”

One feature of the platform is that it offers payment options like mobile money and banking, among others. Within the platform, the business displays its goods.

Munyeria, who heads the e-commerce section, says that takes up the job of delivering the goods to the consumer countrywide on the consumer’s cost. “We deal with wholesalers which means a cheaper price for the consumer,” says Munyeria.

For all this trouble, the company charges the business a commission of 4.5 per cent.

Rolled out in August 2018, the company already has over 100 clients. Munyeria says, all a business has to do is sign up to the platform and submit their products. The customised website is then set up within two days.

“We vet the business to ensure it is genuine and does not deal in fake products.” Ngugi adds that in ensuring that the goods are genuine, consumers are protected and the company ensures that in case the delivered goods are not up to the standard the consumer ordered, then a refund is guaranteed.

On the other hand, there is the issue of merchant protection. He explains that if an item that has been ordered meets client expectations and the client decides against having it at delivery then the business is protected and no refund is given.

With its growing clientele the company has employed seven people so far. Currently the most number of businesses using the platform are those dealing in consumable electronics followed by food and groceries.

With every business comes a challenge and Paytree has its own. “Being a startup, we are up against industry giants, and we have to cut our niche through service delivery,” says Ngugi. Quality control is also still a major challenge.

More still needs to be done to grow the industry. “To enable this industry to grow, the government should shelve plans to tax it for now,” says Ngugi.