I heard the greatest news yesterday.
Finally, one can shop online for day to day items and get the goods delivered to your doorstep!
This magic is being performed by Chandarana Supermaket, on their portal, http://www.chandaranasupermarkets.co.ke
Here, you can finally shop in a supermarket online and have the goods delivered to your doorstep!
To get a nation to change the way they do things and their sociocultural habits takes years of conditioning.
To get Kenyans to shop online will take a lot!
To the best of my knowledge, online shopping has been a mirage. It has eluded many startups and fully grown corporations caused by,in my view, two main factors:
Disuse of online payment methods in Kenya,
The absence of an address system in Kenya for product delivery, and poor, or pricey standards for those that can.
Kenyans do not generally use credit cards. Even with the massive sponsorship with the soccer centric Manchester United and Chelsea Credit Cards, I believe the uptake has been low, I do not know of any friends who have been lured to get one.
Its simple, our interest rates are astronomical, our banks punitive. They WILL take your home. They WILL auction your stuff. You WILL go to jail. Too scary to risk using a card.
VISA and Mastercard have come into the East Africa region with gusto. Setting up offices, hiring staff, heavy advertising, negotiating with banks and payment systems to waive VISA fees for a while, so as to gain traction and get a culture of spending and using debit cards, to nurture the non plastic mindset to using their cards like cash; with no extra or hidden costs.
The uptake is slow. This may change with a few more years of conditioning, but with interest rates increasing and new taxes and levies being slapped on daily, VISA and MASTERCARD and others must be prepared for this market being a loss leader for at least ten years.
Other factors though, may help their growth. Mobile Money. The All consuming MPESA and the growing Airtel Money.
You can find whole books,dissertations,blogs and papers dedicated to Mobile Money and its wonders in Kenya, I won’t touch on it. The critical factor is it is a contribution to the conditioning of the Kenyan psyche on an alternate method of spending money as opposed to cash.
The different experiments with I and M Bank Mpesa Debit cards, partnerships with vendors et al, contribute to money going digital to the common man on the street.
So you have digital money, but can you buy remotely?
So far, to the best of my knowledge, PesaPal, Ipay, KopoKopo,Tangaza (among many others) and now Safaricom herself, have been working hard to integrate digital payment systems integrating seamlessly with Bank accounts to make payments into any organisation or individual’s digital wallet.
The effect is digital trade is now commonplace. People bought tickets to movies, trips, shows and even The Rift Valley festival digitally. Ticketsasa.co.ke among others, offer methods to purchase online coupons,tickets and the like.
However since the ticket is digital, verification digitally leaves room for arguement with slow witted bouncers and security. PDFs on smartphones and SMS verification numbers are being accepted as proof of purchase.
On the products end, Zetu and Rupu and holding up the daily deals and coupon ( a la Groupon) market. Buy product online, pick it up from a drop zone.
So if I’m a couch potato and I do not want to pick up the product, what next? Couriers. G4S,Aramex or DHL. Very pricey.
The startups in the product delivery market such as Petty Errands also seem to stick to corporate errands. The others do not seem to have gained enough following, trust or value to deliver to the common man.
The National Postal Service POSTA bears the biggest responsibility for the distrust in online or international purchase of product and delivery.
They are known for, while being affordable, stealing and “losing” items.
They are the main culprit behind the inherent mistrust of third party product delivery.
Enter the challengers: The Somalis.
They have an intricate network of global drop points and delivery and accept multiple currencies. And are affordable.
So say you want a 46 inch plasma TV from Dubai. Which costs more than 30 percent more in Kenya.
Purchase online with your debit or credit card. Delivery to one of the Somali droppoints in Dubai. It will be delivered to your doorstep anywhere in Kenya. Amazing right?
The same occurs for American stores as well. Just buy what you need to buy, give the American droppoint as the address and they deliver!
They are, I hear, affordable and efficient. And they never steal.
Thus far, apart from complicated methods of getting product to your doorstep there has been nothing straight foward and simple to buy and receive an item.
I applaud the Chandarana Online payment and delivery system, because it indeed is a first, and changes up the game.
Kenyans are copycats, I am certain in less than a month, Nakumatt, Tusky’s and Uchumi supermarkets shall be attempting the same.
Which in the end is good for the consumer!
I am surprised not to have seen editorials or blogs about it, as it is a major coup. Professional jealousy perhaps?