Feature: Online shops offer Kenyans great bargains as e-commerce booms

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-23 02:24:30|Editor: yan
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NAIROBI, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Some years ago, Kenyans seeking bargains for various merchandise that include mobile phones, shoes and clothes would walk from one shop to another.

In the capital Nairobi, citizens would look for the items in shops on River Road and Tom Mboya Streets, which are famed for good prices.

Others would travel to Eastleigh, a suburb on the outskirts of Nairobi inhabited by mainly Somalis.

But that is in the past, today all the citizens have to do is visit online shops, a majority of which are currently offering 'crazy deals' ahead of Christmas, luring thousands.

The online shops which are currently being flocked by thousands of Kenyans include Kilimall, owned by the Chinese, and Jumia.

The two are the most popular in the East African nation and are recording a huge traffic, thanks to their Black Friday offers.

A lot is up for grabs, from handbags to jewellery, dresses, shoes, mobile phones, baby diapers, computers, fridges, TVs and watches.

And the prices have been dropped considerably during the promotion, whetting Kenyans appetite for shopping.

Men's shirt, for instance, on one of the sites is going for 9 U.S. dollars down from 29 dollars while watches go for 15 dollars, down from 25.

Prices of mobile phones, fridges and computers have been reduced by between 2 dollars and 50 dollars, offering consumers best deals.

Black Friday is regarded as the first day of the Christmas shopping season, on which retailers make many special offers.

While in many countries Black Friday promotion is only a day, in Kenya the online shops have sweetened the deals for consumers by offering 30 days of shopping.

"I have become such an addict of online shopping that I no longer go out to buy. Most of my things currently I am now buying from the virtual shops, from lipstick to clothes and shoes," Mary Ambani, a communication officer with a local firm, said Wednesday.

Ambani has taken advantage of the ongoing Black Friday promotion to buy a fridge, a number of dresses, shoes and a mobile phone.

"I looked at the prices of the goods online and checked in the shops and did not even think twice. I saved 40 dollars on the fridge I bought from the online shop and they delivered. Why can't I be happy?" she said.

Victor Mwangi, a marketer in Nairobi, termed the online shops as the best thing to have happened to the Kenyan consumer market after the malls.

"I have embraced the online malls fully, switching from the physical malls. I buy online everything I need save for food because it is not offered. The latest thing I bought on Wednesday is a phone charger, which they dropped at the office," said Mwangi.

Jumia Kenya Managing Director Sam Chappatte last week said that their Black Friday promotion, which started on Nov. 13, had attracted more than 3 million customers in about two weeks, logged to secure deals.

The growing e-commerce trade in the East African nation is luring several players to join the market, with the latest being leading telecom Safaricom.

Safaricom on Tuesday launched its e-commerce platform named "Masoko" as it seeks to offer its customers online shopping experience.

The platform is modelled after retail e-commerce giants Alibaba (Chinese) and Amazon (US), and is offering more than 20,000 items from 160 vendors.

"We view this as part of our ongoing initiatives to drive value for our customers. Masoko will form part of the 320 million dollars we are investing on our platform this financial year," said Safaricom Director-Strategy, Joe Ogutu.

"Several things are boosting e-commerce on the online malls among them great bargains, booming mobile money use, convenience, free delivery especially in Nairobi and the concept of pay upon receiving goods," said Bernard Mwaso, a consultant with Edell IT Solution.

He noted that trust in e-commerce was low when pioneers insisted on paying first before receiving goods, but this changed.

Kenya has some 40 million mobile phone subscribers, about 30 million of whom are using mobile money, according to the Communication Authority of Kenya. The surging numbers point to better times for e-commerce ahead.

However, as e-commerce booms, Gibert Wandera, a computer dealer in Nairobi said that the online shops have disrupted their businesses.

"The shops are offering lower prices for laptops that they are denying me market. I am hoping that another Black Friday would not come soon," said Wandera.