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Firms shift battle for consumers to the Internet

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Companies are establishing an online presence with electronic commerce sites in order to tap tech savvy customer.

Companies are establishing an online presence with electronic commerce sites in order to tap tech savvy customer. 

By Evelyn Situma

Posted  Wednesday, January 23   2013 at  18:05

In Summary

  • The online market has in the recent past attracted more retailers as consumers shop on the Internet for their daily supplies.
  • Online shopping has a big potential for growth given that 13.5 million access the Internet, mostly through mobile phones.
  • The shift to e-commerce is also set to see a decline in operational costs among companies that adopt the technology.

Online trade is set to be the next biggest battleground for companies as industry giants race to outdo one another in a bid to attract more sales.

Uchumi Supermarkets is one of the latest firms to venture into the world of online consumers as it seeks to increase sales volume through technology.

Although the retail chain is still in the final stages of launching the service, Uchumi customers may begin shopping online as early as March.

The retailer, which enjoys a countrywide presence with 26 stores, becomes the third supermarket chain after Nakumatt and Naivas to transact part of its business online in what is becoming a trend among corporates.

Naivas and Nakumatt launched their e-commerce trade last year.

The online market has in the recent past attracted more retailers as consumers shop on the Internet for their daily supplies. Among the reasons that have largely contributed to this mode of trade is changing lifestyle of the modern working professionals.

These individuals find it almost impossible to find ample time for shopping in brick and mortar stores and are therefore shifting online, which is more friendly and convenient than buying from the retail outlets.

High Internet speeds have also boosted e-commerce, making it possible for consumers to transact business online.

Things are bound to get even better if the government finalises plans to launch 4G Internet technology, which is faster than the existing 3G system.

Government policies and legislation like the ICT Act with provisions for e-commerce have created enabling environment for online trade to flourish.

Car & General, a local company dealing in vehicles and machinery with presence in other African countries, says it was attracted online because of the potential for expansion the new technology presents.

The company is also among the new corporate giants making their presence felt in the unfamiliar but rewarding virtual market.

In a couple of days, Car & General will start selling motorbikes, generators, lawn mowers and spare parts from its website. The company targets consumers across Africa.

However, due to logistics constraints, deliveries beyond Kenya would be done through distributors in concerned locations.

According to statistics from Visa and MasterCard, two international pay service providers, online card transactions in the East Africa is said to be in the region of Sh1 billion.

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