Right now is a great time to start an online eCommerce store in Kenya. Because of the pandemic, lots of people are using the internet to buy things and get services. This means that businesses need to go online too, to reach their customers where they are – on the internet.
Things have changed a lot for businesses in Kenya. To do well and stay ahead, businesses have to change too. Starting an online store in Kenya needs careful planning and making sure everything is set up right from the beginning. This is really important.
For those who are new to the online business realm, navigating where to begin or which path to follow can be quite daunting. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide is here to assist you in starting your journey and significantly improving your chances of success.
Before diving into the world of online stores in Kenya, it’s crucial to lay the groundwork correctly. This entails focusing on the following essential aspects:
1. Choose What Products to Sell
The initial and paramount step in launching an eCommerce business in Kenya is to have products ready for sale. However, if you already own a physical store, you can bypass this step as you already possess products to offer.
When commencing your venture, it’s essential to identify your business niche by understanding your target audience. Pinpoint the pain points you aim to address and assess whether there’s room for improvement on existing products.
Discover what potential customers desire and what they are willing to invest in. This step is vital to prevent wasteful spending of time and resources on products with little demand.
To accomplish this, conducting thorough market research is necessary. Begin by selecting a broader market and then narrow it down to your specific niche. This narrowing process will enable you to determine the products that deserve your focus and attention.
2. Name Your Store and Get a Domain
When embarking on your eCommerce journey in Kenya, registering a domain and selecting a website host stands as one of the most critical steps. To initiate this process, you must carefully pick a unique business name that is not already in use by another company.
The domain name represents your business’s online identity and is what people will use to find your website. Thus, choosing the perfect domain name requires careful thought and consideration.
Opt for a business domain name that is simple, concise, and captivating. A memorable domain name will allow potential customers to easily recall and share it with others in conversations, texts, or emails, becoming a crucial factor in your eCommerce business’s success in Kenya.
Steer clear of complex and distracting elements when selecting a domain name, such as abbreviations, numbers, multiple meanings, hyphens, etc. The name should be effortless to spell and type.
When customers can effortlessly pronounce your domain name, your business will experience rapid growth through word-of-mouth marketing. Ensure that the chosen name not only represents your business but also reflects its goals.
Once you have found the ideal name for your business, proceed to register your domain name. You’ll need to choose an appropriate name extension from top-level domains like .com, .co.ke, .biz, .org, .net, .brand, and others.
My go-to and strongly recommended web hosting choice is Lensoft. Renowned for its reliability, Lensoft is a reputable web hosting company in Kenya that provides a diverse range of hosting options, tailored to meet the specific requirements of its diverse clientele.
Regardless of whether you’re a fledgling solopreneur taking your first steps or an established enterprise with a substantial customer base, Hostraha caters to your web hosting needs perfectly. With hosting plans starting as low as Ksh. 3,480 per year, they have the ideal solution for every business.
3. Get a Logo
The impact of a logo on your customers’ perception of your eCommerce business in Kenya cannot be overstated. Hence, from crafting your brand identity to making thoughtful design choices, your logo should stand out and leave a lasting impression.
When designing a logo for your online store in Kenya, think about your audience. Put yourself in their shoes and think like them. You can even check out your competitors’ logos for inspiration.
However, your design style should be unique and tailored to mirror your brand. To make a good logo, you can involve a logo designer, to ensure that it has captured all the details involved in creating a logo.
4. Find Wholesale Suppliers to Stock Your Store
Before launching your online store, conducting thorough research is essential to identify the best wholesalers for the specific goods or services you intend to sell.
For first-time online store owners, it’s crucial to select marketable and in-demand goods or services to ensure a successful venture. Once you’ve determined your offerings, the next step is to find a suitable supplier. Opting for wholesalers can maximize your profits.
The ideal wholesale supplier for your business should offer a comprehensive range of products, provide affordable prices, cater to your geographical region, and demonstrate reliability, trustworthiness, and ease of collaboration.
In Kenya, you can choose from both local and international suppliers to meet your business needs.
5. Build Your Online Store Website
When it comes to building your website, you have several options: you can either do it yourself or hire a web developer.
Doing it yourself may seem appealing to hands-on entrepreneurs, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. Web development requires coding experience and can consume a significant amount of time. If you’re determined to tackle it on your own, enrolling in online courses to gain a foundational understanding of web development is recommended. However, even with this knowledge, it may take months of practice to achieve the professional-level website that you and your customers expect.
On the other hand, if you lack the expertise, skill, or time to build your website, the logical choice is to hire a web developer who can bring your vision to life.
While hiring a high-quality web developer might have an impact on your budget, it can significantly streamline the process and free up your time to concentrate on other important business matters. The cost for an eCommerce website designer can range from Ksh. 35,000 to Ksh. 75,000. If your aim is to have a visually stunning site that provides a seamless shopping experience for your customers, choosing an inexperienced developer solely to cut costs is not advisable. Investing in a skilled and experienced developer will ultimately yield a website that meets your expectations and satisfies your customers’ needs.
6. Accept Payments via Cash on Delivery (Highly Recommended)
After successfully launching your business, it’s crucial to determine the payment options available to your customers. In Kenya, the online payment system is well-established; however, it’s worth noting that the Cash on Delivery (COD) method remains highly favored by most Kenyans. This means that many customers prefer to pay for their orders only when the goods are physically delivered to them. Taking this into account while setting up your payment options can enhance customer satisfaction and boost sales.
Indeed, the preference for Cash on Delivery (COD) among many Kenyans is influenced by past experiences with unscrupulous businessmen who have taken advantage of the online payment system. Unfortunately, some individuals have received cash payments upfront, but failed to deliver the promised goods altogether or delivered items that were not what customers had ordered. As a result, this has led to a higher level of trust and security associated with the COD method, where customers pay only upon receiving their orders.
7. Decide How You’re Going to Deliver Your Products and What Your Delivery Rates Will Be
Meeting customer expectations includes providing home delivery or agreeing on a mutually convenient delivery location. Consequently, you must determine your approach to charging for the delivery service.
When it comes to charging for delivery, you have several options to consider: charging the actual shipping amount, implementing a flat rate, offering free delivery, or using a combination of these methods. If you decide to offer flat rate overages or free delivery, your company will need to absorb those costs, which might lead you to adjust the product prices accordingly. Striking the right balance can be delicate, so conducting testing and making necessary adjustments will be crucial in finding the optimal approach.
8. Start Marketing on Social Media
The success of your online store in Kenya depends on making it visible to potential customers. Getting your store in front of people means meeting them where they are. Social media stands out as one of the most powerful platforms to reach and attract customers. To maximize your results, carefully select the most relevant social media channel that aligns with your products and target audience.
For products that heavily rely on visuals, Instagram emerges as the ideal channel to utilize. If your target audience mainly consists of a young demographic, Facebook becomes the preferred choice. YouTube, on the other hand, caters to all age groups.
To achieve success in selling products or services through social media, crafting the right content in the appropriate volume is crucial. Always prioritize visual content to capture audience attention. Additionally, focus on building a strong network and ensuring it connects back to your business effectively.
9. Use WhatsApp for Customer Service
Incorporating WhatsApp into your social media strategy can be highly beneficial. Utilizing WhatsApp Business allows you to establish a direct connection with your customers and offer them immediate and personalized customer service support. This enhances your overall customer experience and strengthens your business-client relationships.
WhatsApp Business is a user-friendly app available for download on both the App Store and Google Play, depending on your phone’s software.
WhatsApp Business provides valuable tools to facilitate selling directly through the platform. When setting up your profile, you’ll be prompted to create a catalog showcasing your products or services, making it convenient for customers to browse your offerings. Each product or service should include essential details such as title, price, description, product code, and a link to the corresponding page on your website. You can upload up to 500 products, each accompanied by an image.
By utilizing WhatsApp for Business, you can efficiently handle customer inquiries. Clients can message you directly on your phone, enabling you to respond promptly and offer swift customer support. The app stores templates for frequently asked questions, saving you time by using shortcuts to answer repetitive queries quickly and effectively, improving customer satisfaction.
Additionally, WhatsApp for Business allows you to organize and categorize users and messages with the use of labels. This feature helps you prioritize and sort messages based on urgency and identify returning customers. You can use pre-programmed labels or create customized ones that suit your business needs.
For maximum engagement and accessibility, consider adding a WhatsApp chat button to your website and all social media channels. You can also include it in your email signature when sending newsletters to customers, making it easy for them to reach out to you directly.
When It Comes Time to Build Your Team, Hire the Following Staff Whenever Possible
- Stock Manager
The stock manager is responsible for overseeing an organization’s inventory. They meticulously track and monitor inventory levels and develop streamlined processes to maximize efficiency. This role involves creating inventory plans, managing distribution, and negotiating contracts with suppliers.
- Customer Support
A customer support professional serves as the primary point of contact for customers and clients, engaging with them through various channels such as telephone, social media, face-to-face interactions, or email. Their main focus is to address customer inquiries and concerns promptly and effectively, aiming for excellent customer satisfaction.
- Website Manager
The website manager takes charge of the website’s functionality, performance, and overall maintenance. They handle hosting and server management while ensuring that website content remains up-to-date. Additionally, they monitor and analyze website performance and execute online marketing projects, including SEO and social media marketing.
- Social Media Manager
A social media manager plays a vital role in maintaining and enhancing the online presence of a business, product, or brand. They manage social media profiles, create engaging posts, interact with followers, and curate the brand’s social media image. By understanding followers’ needs and interests, they devise strategies to convert fans into loyal customers.
The accountant is responsible for maintaining and interpreting financial records within an organization. They ensure the accuracy of financial documents and adherence to relevant laws and regulations. Additionally, they prepare essential financial reports, handle tax returns, and ensure timely and accurate tax payments. Conducting forecasting and risk analysis assessments is also part of their responsibilities.
Congratulations on reaching the end! Starting an eCommerce business in Kenya requires careful consideration of various factors. From the user-friendliness of your website to your pricing, marketing strategy, product quality, and smooth transaction process, every aspect plays a crucial role in determining your success.
Above all, focus on creating value for your customers to encourage repeat business and foster a thriving venture. By prioritizing customer satisfaction and delivering exceptional experiences, you can set the foundation for a successful and sustainable online business in Kenya. Best of luck on your entrepreneurial journey!