Digital Business

What Kenyans order online while keeping purse strings tight to pay for goods in cash

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e-Ensures says young shoppers are keen on technological advancements but insist on paying cash after delivery of an item. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

e-Ensures says young shoppers are keen on technological advancements but insist on paying cash after delivery of an item. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

By ANNIE NJANJA ANjanja@ke.nationmedia.com

Posted  Wednesday, January 18   2017 at  19:00

In Summary

  • Electronics orders rule the charts of online shopping in Kenya.
  • A research by e-Ensures showed mobile phones emerged the most popular items bought online, taking up 58 per cent of all orders while fashion came a distant second at 18 per cent.
  • Samsung and Tecno phones were the popular brands with buyers.

Electronics orders rule the charts of online shopping in Kenya with the phones taking the bulk of these requests, a new survey shows.

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Data from leading online malls reveal that after mobile phones, computer hardware, television sets and home appliances pull the crowds in that order.

This week, a survey by a local research firm e-Ensures showed mobile phones emerged the most popular items bought online, taking up 58 per cent of all orders while fashion came a distant second at 18 per cent.

Samsung and Tecno phones were the popular brands with buyers, commanding more than 50 per cent of the phone orders online.

Most of the shoppers, according to the survey, bought a product after seeing an online advertisement while 21 per cent acquired the items on referrals from friends or relatives.

“About 75 per cent of the people in our survey are driven to purchase an item after seeing an online advert, followed closely by referrals from friends and family that account for 21 per cent,” said e-Ensures managing director Nathalie Maikere.

Other popular items on the buyers’ list include fashion items, accessories, and interior decoration materials.

In November and December, Jumia Kenya says, the most selling items were mobile phones followed by computer hardware, television, home appliances and fashion items.

Electronics accounted for 32 per cent of the most popular items sought out on PigiaMe with jobs and vehicles taking 17 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

“A large population of our customers are young, tech-savvy, dynamic and in the middle-class, as such they have disposable income to spend, crave technological advancement and will keep upgrading their mobile phone, computer, television from time to time to keep up and as they settle down away from their parents,” said communications manager at Jumia Robinson Murage.

Traffic, PigiaMe says, has increased on its site by more than 60 per cent since the first quarter of 2016 due to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and improved online marketing.

“Overall, we observed a very exciting year of growth in the classifieds market in 2016,” PigiaMe ceo François de Chalendar.

Electronics were also flying off the shelves faster than other items on OLX Kenya platform owing to the small and medium enterprises using the platform to reach a wider market.

Out of the more than one million items posted on OLX last year 330,000 units were electronics that include home appliances and mobile phones.

Other items that were popular with buyers included vehicles, real estate properties and home décor.

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Digital Business

Ma3route eases traffic updates with app upgrade

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Ma3route last week revamped its Android application improving its traffic search, streamlined user posts and added a live traffic map. PHOTO | FILE

Ma3route last week revamped its Android application improving its traffic search, streamlined user posts and added a live traffic map. PHOTO | FILE 

By DOREEN WAINAINA dwainainah@ke.nationmedia.com

Posted  Wednesday, January 18   2017 at  18:15

In Summary

  • Initially, the platform was to help users find the stations for public service vehicles (PSVs) dubbed matatus in Kenya.
  • Nairobi loses Sh42 billion ($400 million) in productivity every year due to travel times, fuel costs, air pollution and accidents.
  • The jarring statistics prompted the team to focus on a tech solution to address the traffic situation that has been increasingly troubling the city.

Chock-a-block. That is the term that can best describe Nairobi City roads over the past week as offices reopened and the workers settled into their daily commute routines.

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In 2012, Laban Okune, a software engineer, piloted a platform that has evolved to be a key source of traffic updates for users in the city.

Initially, the platform was to help users find the stations for public service vehicles (PSVs) dubbed matatus in Kenya hence the name Ma3Route. As time passed, new features were added including the traffic notice aspect.

The name remained even as the functionality changed from the initial route mapping feature and was registered as a company in 2015.

According to the Ma3Route team, Nairobi has a population of about 3.8 million people, including three million people moving in the city daily. With 400,000 vehicles on the road, like many cities in emerging markets, the Kenyan capital faces multiple urban challenges a rising demand for road usage, a limited infrastructure, semi-public transports and a lack of reliable information on traffic conditions.

As a result, urban traffic is not redistributed efficiently. Commuters end up facing accessibility challenges as they move within the city and Nairobi loses Sh42 billion ($400 million) in productivity every year due to travel times, fuel costs, air pollution and accidents.

The jarring statistics prompted the team to focus on a tech solution to address the traffic situation that has been increasingly troubling the city over the past few years.

“Public transport directions (matatus) were a main focus initially, but we’ve realised that all traffic information was a challenge for our users. A high level of iteration and a strong focus on solving our users problem remained paramount,” says the team.

The company last week revamped its Android application improving its traffic search, streamlined user posts and added a live traffic map.

“With this new version of our free mobility service, it’s never been faster to share and access useful real-time, information on road conditions in Kenya, and to get to where we need to go more efficiently,” says Ma3Route.

Ma3Route uses information from the more than 500,000 users from its various online services to collect the data it needs for updates, hence the crowdsourcing aspect.

“Our team brings a mix of technologists, city planners, transportation specialists, community managers, operations and business managers to deliver on the company’s promise: making mobility more enjoyable for all road travellers in African cities,” says Stéphane Eboko, business development, Ma3Route.

The team did not have an easy time starting up.

“By definition, in a crowdsourcing service, users create and share information. Thus, acquiring a critical mass of end-users was our first milestone. We had to be smart and agile, constantly listening to early adopters feedback,” says Eboko.

The reliance on user feedback prompted the team to add the feature to the Android app.

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Digital Business

Biggest barriers that prevent businesses from going tech

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Technology helps SMEs to  maximise on their growth potential. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

Technology helps SMEs to maximise on their growth potential. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

By MBUGUA NJIHIA

Posted  Wednesday, January 18   2017 at  18:30

I sit in an ecosystem where new ideas and permutations of current technology based solutions are churned out daily, reimagining day to day living, business processes and value extraction.

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Some of these ideas are brilliant in every way, triggering the “why has no one thought of it in this way before” eureka moments and probably fuelling the dreams of soon to be newly acquired wealth status from the imagined uptake of services by thousands, even millions perchance. That stage of ideation and creation is most exciting and many entrepreneurs work feverishly towards getting that first flavour of services up and running.

Reality often times hits when it comes to testing the product or service in the market, and this happens whether or not the techpreneur indulged in some form of market sizing or product fit missions. It is caused by a phenomenon not of their own making but one that they must navigate if they are to see their creations gain traction.

While some potential customer segments have a real need, the following two challenges are probably the most deflating that I have experienced when trying to position a service — primarily because there is no prescribed fix for them as they are hinged on the human condition.

Laziness: To call it as it is, many potential customers expect technology to solve everything for them, essentially absconding them from the need to put in actual work. With halfhearted, ad hoc usage even when the tools require no additional specialised skills, coupled with the expectation of immediate turnaround or results, the tool and the technology are quickly dubbed as useless and discarded.

Ego: This comes into play when a potential customer feels that they have domain knowledge of an industry or segment and its ways of work and they therefore have no need to learn or change anything.

This will be despite the fact that their businesses have not seen any growth over time, they have no visibility on the health of their enterprise or they are experiencing diminishing returns.

Many do not take too kindly to the suggestion that they are not doing something right.

The above mentioned phenomena, I have observed in small and medium sized enterprises that have the biggest need to refine processes, market efficiently, figure out book keeping and in general make small adjustments and form new habits that will bring a marked difference in their operations from increase in customers, stabilised and predictable cash flow and access to capital.

Perhaps if the majority opt for entrepreneurship as conscious decision and not a fallback plan, more SMEs will seek out any advantage that technology can bring to their operations. How to fix this at population scale, I do not know.

Mr Njihia is CEO of Symbiotic.
Twitter: @mbuguanjihia.

Digital Business

Parents lack control over their children’s online activity, says Kaspersky study

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The Consumer Security Risks Survey 2016 uncovered what parents think about the online world and the challenges they face in protecting their family from threats. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH

The Consumer Security Risks Survey 2016 uncovered what parents think about the online world and the challenges they face in protecting their family from threats. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

By DOREEN WAINAINAH

Posted  Wednesday, January 18   2017 at  18:48

Parents need to do more to protect their children from the growing number of online threats, but many currently lack visibility of the dangers their children are facing, a survey by Kaspersky has revealed.

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The research by Kaspersky Lab showed that less that 26 per cent use parental control software to help restrict children’s activities online. Worryingly, among those parents who have not installed parental control features, one in five believe that it is better for children to learn how to use the Internet safely themselves.

The Consumer Security Risks Survey 2016 uncovered what parents think about the online world and the challenges they face in protecting their family from threats. The research showed that only a third of parents worry that their children could be exposed to inappropriate or explicit content online.

“Parents need to be more aware of the dangers their children face online. They need to help their children become more cyber-savvy and put protection methods in place to keep them safe online, as they would in the physical world”, said Andrei Mochola, Head of Consumer Business at Kaspersky Lab. Further, the parents have not taken a proactive role in warning their children on the dangers of the Internet.

Just 36 per cent are wary of their children communicating with dangerous strangers, and 34 per cent worry about them becoming victims of cyberbullying.

Not enough parents are taking the required steps to protect their children, with only a third regularly talking to their children about online dangers and bringing the Internet into family conversation, while only a quarter regularly check the Internet history on the browser. One in five prefer to become a contact within their children’s social networks.

“You wouldn’t let your children cross the road or talk to strangers on their own, so it’s surprising to see almost a quarter of parents leaving their children to browse the Internet independently. It’s easy to overlook the security threats of the online world when you’re a busy parent, but leaving children to deal with threats without help is unsafe. As the digital world increasingly impacts on all aspects of our lives, it is more important than ever to boost knowledge and put safeguards in place,” added Mochola.

Ma3route last week revamped its Android application improving its traffic search, streamlined user posts and added a live traffic map. PHOTO | FILE

The Big Story

Ma3route eases traffic updates with app upgrade

In 2012, Laban Okune, a software engineer, piloted a platform that has evolved to be a key source of traffic updates for users in the city....

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