E-commerce gains massive traction in rural Kenya

Kenya’s rural population is increasingly taking to the internet and aggressively placing orders online catching up with their urban counterparts, an internal survey by Jumia Kenya has revealed.

The survey indicates that urban traffic to the Jumia site stood at 77% in 2014 with rural traffic at 23% while urban deliveries accounted for 61% and rural 39%. In 2015, urban traffic maintained lead at 60% as rural traffic recorded a 17% rise to stand at 40%. Urban deliveries receded by 6% to 55% compared to 61% the previous year with rural deliveries climbing to 45%.

Notably, traffic and delivery statistics for the first quarter of 2016 show an even closer range with rural Kenya catching up fast in web traffic at 49% a shy 2% away to cannibalise urban traffic at 51% interestingly, rural deliveries maintained a previous 45% success rate.

Parinaz Firozi MD, Jumia Kenya said, “There is a high demand for online shopping with a high reliance on mobile from rural Kenya which is now a major focus area.”

Smartphones, mobile accessories, television sets, and computing rank as the fastest selling categories in low tier towns and rural Kenya while the same products with an addition to fashion emerged best sellers in urban Kenya here categorised as Nairobi, Thika, Nakuru, Mombasa, Eldoret, and Kisumu.

While there is untapped potential in rural Kenya, Firozi notes that Jumia’s partnership with local courier service companies such as Posta Kenya, Aramex, G4S and Wells Fargo among others has been instrumental in boosting e-commerce uptake as the companies provide security for goods in transit to high risk areas besides serving as pick up centres for customers.

Geoffrey Mwove, Chairman Courier industry association and the Director of Courier at G4S Kenya notes, “Some customers will take time before pick-up due to impassable roads, unreachability due to fluctuating mobile network and lack of electricity among others in which case we extend their pick up period.”

Against the challenges, Firozi insists that the future of e-commerce is even brighter in the light of government efforts to increase broadband connectivity and mapped infrastructural development across the country.

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