E-commerce is an emerging distribution model in Kenya that’s gaining traction very quickly. The question for many businesses is what platform will lead to the most sales.
We’ve looked at the pros and cons of the 3 key e-commerce models in Kenya to help you figure out your e-commerce strategy.
The 3 e-commerce models
- Own Website
- Online Marketplace
- Social Media Store
A website is like your own home on the internet where customers can find out more about your company, the team behind it, the vision and so on. There are several ‘drag and drop’ e-commerce platforms that you can use to build your very own website affordably.
Here are a few examples:
E-merse: Kenyan platform from as low as 1200Ksh per month
Wix: Website building platform with Kenyan currency integration
Shopify: Website building platform with Kenyan currency integration
Pros of selling on your own website
- There’s an opportunity to create a unique customer experience on your own site.
- A great platform for telling your brand story and build customer loyalty.
- The drag and drop technology on e-commerce platforms means you can bootstrap and build your own website yourself with little to no coding knowledge.
Cons of selling on your own website
- You’ll need to invest in paid advertising and a robust online presence to driving traffic to the website.
- To maximise sales on your website Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other technical skills are needed to build awareness and drive sales.
- Creating a great user experience on a website takes time and a poorly designed website may negatively affect sales.
An online marketplace is a site that connects vendors to customers by hosting the vendors’ inventory on their website and giving customers the opportunity to buy directly from the marketplace. A marketplace does not buy the inventory from the vendor but receives a commission for each sale done on its website.
Here are the top marketplaces in Kenya.
Pros of selling on a marketplace
- The marketplaces have already been designed all you have to do is upload products.
- Marketplaces invest heavily in marketing to attract customers to their site to drive sales.
- Marketplaces such as Jumia and Masoko give vendors the option of warehousing and shipping products to customers on your behalf.
- You can focus on production or sourcing without spending time trying to manage a website.
Cons of selling on a marketplace
- Whilst you get a shop front with a marketplace you cannot customise it losing a branding opportunity.
- To attract customers to your product on the site you still need to do some advertising.
Social Media Stores
Facebook and Instagram have made it possible for vendors to sell their products directly on their social media pages.
Pros of selling directly on Facebook or Instagram
- The setup is very easy and quick.
- Customers can shop without leaving the social media platform.
- Facebook and Instagram have a lot of organic traffic on their platforms that you can tap into to drive sales.
Cons of selling directly on Facebook or Instagram
- Accounts can be hacked/taken down which is a risk for your business if you rely on sales solely from social platforms.
- The customers technically ‘belong’ to the social media platforms, not your business.
- A vendor would still need to invest in marketing on the social platforms to attract people to their page
Which one is right?
Understanding the pros and cons of each platform will help you form a clear strategy for each and also decide what e-commerce platform is the best for your business. To maximise sales, you can choose to sell on more than one platform.
Over to you. What platforms do you think work best for e-commerce? Are you selling on a mix of platforms? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.