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LETTER: Tap full potential of e-commerce platforms





Recently, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) hosted the first ever Africa e-Commerce Week in Nairobi, which attracted over 89 countries. It closed unnoticed by most Kenyans.

E-commerce is growing quickly in Africa, creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses to expand their market access and join value chains. Jobs are being created and new business models are emerging. At the same time, the evolving landscape is creating new risks and challenges.

The gains from e-commerce are not automatic, and the increased use of digital technologies can result in new divides and wider income inequalities.

For generations, the basics of retail stayed the same. People who wanted to buy something usually had to go to a store and most people were able to find a store by looking for its sign.

Many small business owners have only waded into the waters of e-commerce, but the time has come to dive in

In Kenya you can pay for your vegetables at the road side kiosk and at the same time you can pay your bill at a five star hotel using mobile money. Smartphones penetration in Kenyat is at over 80 percent

The internet has changed the world in almost every possible way, and e-commerce has revolutionised how business is done through shopping and selling. However, many MSMEs businesses, even knowing this, still haven’t realised just how large a growth spurt they can gain by selling their goods and services online through e-commerce. Which is a way of conducting business over the Internet, though it is a relatively new concept, it has the potential to alter the traditional form of economic activities.

Investing in an ecommerce software platform is important for all businesses including mama mboga, because consumers use all channels at their disposal when researching, selecting and buying a product. In-store browsers can become online shoppers and vice versa. There are a lot of people who may ‘prefer’ to shop in-store but ‘choose’ to shop online because it’s the most convenient option.

In any case, a real value for businesses that embraces internet marketing and ecommerce to reach the large percentage of customers who are shopping online.

Improving a business ecommerce and internet marketing strategy can prevent a small retailer from falling behind their competitors and provide new sources of revenue as more consumers choose to shop online. One of the benefits about adding ecommerce to a business strategy is that it doesn’t require much more than what is already available at the brick and mortar location.

A clothing boutique that wants to start selling online only needs a computer with an internet connection to run the ecommerce solution (a website or app) and some boxes to ship things in. In this way, adding ecommerce can require far less investment than opening a second location.

It should be clear to entrepreneurs that the old models of retail have changed and that it’s essential to change their strategy in accordance with the new reality. Ecommerce and online sales will become an ever-important factor in the revenue of retailers. For marketers the writing is on the wall: you don’t need a bigger sign, you need a bigger internet marketing presence. Small businesses need ecommerce now, more than ever.

Setting up a business website and selling your products online can make a difference in your volume of sales. Many businesses with traditional brick and mortar retail shops are discovering this. Businesses that provide services and consulting can also grow their business with a strong online presence.

You can sell and schedule appointments and bookings directly at the same time, saving you effort and headache. You and your customers also have a better idea of when you’ll be available and can work together on the best time for you both.

As a small offline business, when your products/services are appreciated by your customers, it’s really hard for you to take advantage of those appreciations to influence new customers. But, with having an online presence of your business, your customers can share their appreciation over social media profiles of your business.

These reviews are publically available for everyone to see and this helps you to influence your new users to get converted to customers.

Whenever you need to announce any promotions or your deals and discounts, creating a hype is a great deal. Hype can be created on all the social platforms such as on Facebook, Instagram, and emails.

Ndirangu Ngunjiri, managing partner, Watermark Consultants