In this new age of the internet, one may not need a physical store to sell products. The online space has provided the perfect opportunity for individuals and startups to market their products and services. You can easily get consumers online without using the traditional forms of marketing that charge an arm and a leg just to showcase your product/service. But, how do you sell your products online in Kenya?
From the consumer side, the internet has completely changed the way people shop for products. 63% of product purchase cycles start from the internet.
For example, if Wanjiku wants to buy a car, she is likely to start her research online on what car would perfectly suit her considering her needs and budget. She will then proceed to look for options through online searches and on social media. Wanjiku might not even need to visit several dealerships before making the decision to purchase the car.
From her online research, she will shortlist the favorable dealerships, engage them and probably visit 2 or 3 before making the purchase.
If you want to sell your products online in Kenya, you have quite a number of options that you can choose from. It will largely depend on what product you are trying to sell online. It could be a one-time sale of a product you want to offload, or you are starting a business that will see you continually sell products or services to your customers.
Let us explore some of the ways that you can sell your products online.
5 Best Ways to Sell Products Online in Kenya
Below are some of the best options you can explore to get your business started online in Kenya.
Build your Own Website
A website can be one of the best investments you can make for your business. You get a lot of flexibility when you build your own website. You can list a wide array of products, provide invaluable information through useful content and use different channels to market the products.
An eCommerce website can help with automation and management of your business and the complete sales cycle can take place with minimal human intervention. Customers would be able to place orders and make payments online.
With no middleman, a website will give you full control of your business and you will be able to maximize on your profits.
You can quite easily get started with an eCommerce website and within a short period of time, your online shop will be ready. The advancement in technology has made it easy to set up ecommerce sites, therefore you can exploit tools such as WordPress’ Woocommerce, Shopify, Ecwid or Squareup.
Alternatively, you can hire an expert to set up for you the eCommerce website. It can somehow get challenging, especially when it comes to the complete setup that may require a payment gateway to facilitate payments through PayPal, Visa or Mastercard. For this, you may require an expert developer to help you with the website.
eCommerce websites are however slightly pricey when you compare to other types of websites. In Kenya, this could mean you set aside at least Ksh 60,000 or more depending on the size of your online store. However, it is a worthy investment to do and you will definitely get a return on your investment if done right.
Online Marketplaces in Kenya
Building your own website sounds like an uphill task? Well, your second option is to sell your products through already available marketplaces in Kenya. Becoming a merchant in the various marketplaces online in Kenya is rather simple, but varies from one website to another.
Some of the most popular marketplaces in Kenya include:
- Jumia Online Shop
- Sky Garden
There are many more marketplaces in Kenya. Businesses and individuals have a ton of options to choose from when it comes to marketplaces. You may find more success with niche based marketplaces as opposed to generalized online shops.
For example, if you are selling cars, you are better off listing your car on cheki.com which is a niche based marketplace focusing on cars rather than trying to sell your cars on Jiji, which is broad based.
Facebook Groups, Pages and Marketplace
This is arguably the easiest option for many. All it takes to get started is a smartphone and you are off. You have several options if you want to sell your products through Facebook. Some of the options you can explore include:
- Selling through your personal profile
- Selling through a Facebook Page
- Selling through Facebook Groups
- Selling through Facebook Marketplace
All you need to have is a good camera phone and take good photos of your products. Alternatively, you can hire a professional photographer and/or a graphic designer to have even better shots. Then, you can post the image with a product description through any of the above avenues.
Selling your products through your personal profile can be limiting as you are marketing to your small circle of friends. However, depending on the type of product you are selling, you can get handsome results. Building a page on the other hand, requires time and devotion. You may also incur a cost of promoting your posts through Facebook Ads to reach a broader audience.
One of the most effective ways of selling products in Kenya at a smaller scale on Facebook is through the Facebook Groups. You can find very targeted groups on Facebook that will help with your conversion. For instance, if you are selling camping gear, you can join a group of camping enthusiasts in Kenya to find your potential customers.
Additionally, Facebook Groups in Kenya have emerged for individuals within a certain locality. These groups are very popular among residents within the locality and members generate content that make these groups very lively.
For instance, people living in Ruaka, a very small but vibrant town in Nairobi/Kiambu, have a group named “RUAKA – livin it n lovin it.” that has over 117,000 members on Facebook. Other neighborhoods across the country have similar Facebook Groups.
“Wanderlust Diaries Ltd”, a group for travel lovers has over 386,000 members while “Nairobi Expats Marketplace” has over 60,000 members.
The “Buy and Sell” section of these groups showcases products that members are selling and it is one of the best ways to sell your products for free on Facebook.
The last, relatively new concept, is the Facebook Marketplace which is a partnership between Facebook and Shopify among other online eCommerce platforms. Well, not that new as the concept started back in 2016 but it is just recently that Facebook have been seen to fully roll it out to support eCommerce on the platform. At the moment, the platform is free for merchants.
Sell Products on Instagram
Much like Facebook, Instagram provides a great avenue to market and sell your products online in Kenya. Instagram has gained popularity over the years and is appealing to a younger generation in Kenya that is more visual.
To maximize on the selling options on Instagram, you may want to convert your normal Instagram page to a business profile. This will help you access a number of options for selling and reporting that will be very useful for your marketing and sales.
You can also use Instagram Stories to reach out to your potential customers. It is very evident that posts on Stories get a wider reach as compared to the normal posts both on Instagram and Facebook. You can better your posts by using the right hashtags for a better organic reach for your posts.
To make your campaigns even better, you can try running ads on Instagram. Another cool feature you can exploit on Instagram is the Instagram Shopping which lets you set up products on normal posts with names and pricing details. The posts appear as normal Instagram Posts but users can “tap to view products”. The products within the posts have tags that link users to a product page with more details about the product.
There are also very many micro influencers that would be happy to promote your product at a small fee or on commission basis. You can identify the right influencers and partner with them to promote your products through their Instagram profiles.
Edgar Obare, popularly known as the “Tea Master”, an influencer on Instagram with over 388,000 followers offers space on his Instagram Stories to advertise at a fee. His Instagram Stories are reported to have 50k+ views and he only charges Ksh 1000 per post. You can find a number of other influencers in Kenya that can help you promote your products on Instagram at very reasonable rates.
Instagram is heavy on presentation and how you present your products matters a lot.
Sell via WhatsApp and other Instant Messaging Apps
WhatsApp is another excellent communication tool that you can use to promote your products or services to your potential customers. WhatsApp Business allows you to create catalogs for your products or services. You can use a variety of media and your creativity really comes into play if you want to capture the attention of your audience through the WhatsApp Status feature.
You can also use the broadcast feature on your WhatsApp to reach out to a targeted audience. The App allows you to label your lists accordingly and target these lists with different broadcasts. However, this needs to be used in moderation and you have to inform your audience about opting out.
Things to Consider when Selling Products Online in Kenya
Well, now that we know about the available options for selling products online in Kenya, it is important that we go through the best practices to help you maximize conversion. Below are some of the things that you really need to take into consideration when engaging customers and prospects online.
#1 Customer Service
Customer experience is very important online. How you handle your customers from the consideration stage all through to the purchase stage and beyond matters a lot. With the competition for the same audience online, the customer experience could make the difference between you and your competitor.
It has come out in research by Microsoft that 95% of customers find customer service to be very important and that is the main reason they would remain loyal to a particular brand. Make sure that everything is well organized from your end, communicate promptly with your customers, answer phone calls and go through every little detail that comes out in conversation.
Personalize your customer service and always ask for feedback and reviews so that you can constantly improve the experience for your customers.
#2 Availability in Stock
Do not take orders you cannot fulfill. Ensure that you are able to fulfill orders and communicate clearly if a product is out of stock. For the popular products, make sure that you order in time so that you are able to fulfill orders as they come in.
Use data that you acquire over time to constantly improve on your sales forecasts. Be mindful of your cash reserves and use these insights gathered to know what to order, when to order and the capacity of your orders.
#3 Delivery System
Delivery is one of the most challenging aspects when it comes to selling products online. When starting out, you might be forced to make deliveries on orders by yourself. However, handling logistics becomes challenging with an increased number of orders.
You may be required to get a reliable courier service to handle your delivery needs. Clearly communicate to the customer any additional charges like shipping. You can also offer a pick up point in a central location for customers to collect their orders.
There are many places in major towns in Kenya that you can rent-a-shelf at reasonable prices to handle your orders. Renting a shelf can be as low as Ksh 3000 per month in Nairobi.
If your orders are out of town, find a reliable courier and offer customers different options that could work for them.
#4 Product Quality and Description
The product is the most important aspect of your business. The quality of the product will determine a number of consequent outcomes. The quality of the product is very important to the customer as they want to get value for their money spent. Be careful not to over-promise in your product description.
It is hard to meet every expectation of your client, but it is in the interest of your business to try as much as possible. Product quality may determine why the customer will shun your competitor. Customers will always provide positive or negative feedback when it comes to product quality and this can affect your business reputation either negatively or positively.
Selling good quality products at reasonable pricing will help grow your business and improve your customer loyalty. These customers will in turn refer their friends and write positive reviews about your products online.
#5 Your Safety and Security
While you are trying to move your products through the different avenues, it is important to consider your safety and security. You may want to vet the delivery addresses with a keen interest in your own security. Some areas are unsafe and people may place orders with an interest to steal or harm the delivery persons.
Especially for high value goods such as smartphones and other small electronics, you need to be extra careful. For areas that are unsafe, you could respectfully request the customer to pick the products from your pickup location or in a central and populated location.
For out of town orders, you could request the client to pay for the product fully before dispatch.
Conclusion: Selling Products Online
Whether it is one product you want to offload, or it is a business you are slowly building online, the internet offers the perfect platform to sell products online. Some avenues may be challenging to explore, but the fruits could be tenfold.
Organize your products, research the market, identify a strategy and go all out with your online sales. It can be a bit tedious when starting out, but it gets easier as the orders come in.
Kenyans are embracing technology and 99.9% of Kenyans between the ages of 16-64 years own mobile phones. Of these mobile phones, 99.7% are smartphones. This offers a great opportunity for ecommerce in Kenya. It has made it easier for individuals and small businesses to sell products online in Kenya.