Rose Muthoni @rosemuthoniN
E-commerce is taking the world by storm. More and more people are warming up to the convenience online stores offer. But for us to enjoy any type of convenience, there has to be a go-between for the e-commerce platform and customers – the delivery guy or company. Nothing beats the good feeling of ordering something online and having it delivered to your doorstep.
International companies like Amazon and Ebay are loved for their array of goods. You can literally never miss anything when you are on these sites. But being positioned in far away countries often locks out people with desire to buy from them.
More often than not orders on Amazon cannot be delivered to Kenya because of shipping restrictions. These restrictions include government import or export requirements, manufacturer restrictions, a seller who does not offer international shipping, a customer who may have chosen an offer from a seller who does not offer shipping to his address due to the nature of the product (perishable or bulky).
Individual companies have, however, bridged that gap by connecting local customers to goods abroad. Mall for Africa, for instance, stands out by fulfilling orders for 110 international brands and e-commerce platforms including Amazon UK and US, ebay, Next, Sephora, Mac and Victoria secrets. All a customer has to do is download their app and shop away.
Through the app, you can buy anything your pocket allows from favourite international brand’s online shops and have it delivered to the point of your choice. During the Black Friday and Cyber Monday craze, Maya Hayakawa, K24’s business news anchor and Wikendi columnist, for example bought an assortment of items through the e-commerce firm.
“I prefer shopping through Mall for Africa because they have a variety of known international brands that I cannot find on any other website like Sephora. These are genuine brands and I do not have to worry about the genuineness of the product,” says Maya, adding that they have amazing customer service and a good return policy.
“This is helpful, especially, when you want to return clothes that do not fit you.” Online courier service providers use a variety of payment channels including debit and credit cards. “Mall for Africa is convenient because it has many payment methods including M-Pesa. They also have a very accurate tracking system,” Maya adds.
Other companies have not been left out, with the likes of African Salihiya, Peer Cargo, Kote and Kentex offering needed competition. Small online retail shops, especially those that sell their wares on Facebook and Instagram, also depend on individual delivery people to connect them to their customers. Delivery to the door step is their way of saying thank you to their customers.
Nkatha Mbae runs Noni’s Online Store on both her facebook and Instagram pages. She sells trendy clothes, shoes and accessories. For Mbae, she depends on a particular biker to deliver her goods to the customer.
“My delivery guy is very patient, both with me and the customer. He is also very courteous and affordable. This is why he is my go-to guy,” she says. Within Nairobi’s Central Business District, a customer parts with Sh200, Sh350 and up to Sh600 for its environs.
“Trust is very important when selecting a delivery guy especially because some customers return clothes that do not fit. I need to know that he will bring them right back to me. Sometimes Mbae delivers herself especially if the delivery point is within the CBD or when the rider is fully booked. Some businesses, however, use delivery as a form of customer service.
Daniel Mwangi of Gas Land in Nairobi’s Komarock Mall delivers cooking gas to his customers for free. “There are many outlets selling cooking gas around Nairobi so you have to give your customers the best service possible to earn their loyalty,” he says.
The famous Jumia mbuzi was also delivered in the same manner. Kensarif Fresh Farm Supplies partnered with Jumia to deliver the Sh1,000 goat during the Black Friday bonanza. “The Sh1,000 covered all costs including delivery unless the goat was going to places outside Nairobi,” says Kennedy Nyantari, one of Kensarif owners.
“It took us three days from the time the order was closed to the time we delivered the goat in the customer’s homestead,” adds Brian Kambaga a business partner. The delivery business has barely scratched the surface, with more and more businesses setting up online. It would be interesting to see where its wheels take us.