Ideas & Debate

LETTERS: Shopping goes online for speed and mitumba

Online shopping
Online shopping offers convenience in terms of speed and affordable pricing as cost of living keeps rising. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Shopping behaviours are evolving and retailers must incessantly adapt to meet their expectations. The Kenyan consumer and retail landscape are shifting, as the country has favourable prospects and a stable consumer confidence, even though consumers are becoming more complex with the high cost of living.

A closer look at the trends within the sector reveals mixed fortunes; from improved infrastructure like shopping malls with supermarkets being anchor tenants to increasing the number of supermarket chains that serve various populations.

Some have branches across the country while others are focusing on a niche.

The sector is also witnessing the ever-increasing buying power among middle-income consumers, which is being supported by a better economy as compared to previous years.

Consumers are choosing what to buy, when to buy, where to do it from and how often to buy, as they have become more enlightened and demanding.


Similarly, advancements in technology, a surge in mobile based technologies, introduction of cashless payment systems and e-commerce have positively impacted shopping trends.

The evolution of such technologies has enabled consumers to be the king, and they now understand the power they have and will use it when not satisfied with a service or product.

It has also given birth to the incredible e-commerce applications where buyers can comfortably and conveniently shop without leaving their homes.

Due to this, there are immense changes and continued digital revolution as e-commerce transforms the retail sector in Kenya and beyond. This, mainly driven by a growing desire for confidentiality and speed among consumers.

A 2018 survey by global consumer research firm Nielsen showed that about one in every four consumers browse for products and services, sparking a need for retailers to move online.

It further revealed that there is a huge gap in retail e-commerce space yet a quarter of Kenyans use social media to find out about Fast Moving Consumer Goods.

From the report, it is clear that there is a need for retailers to realise the importance of adapting to changing trends and demand for products, and shopping experiences in order to succeed.

They must also see the essence of developing e-commerce platforms as they are pivotal to their success and longevity.

Going by findings from the latest household survey by research consulting firm Kantar, there is a need for retailers and manufacturers to collaborate in coming up with new business models that match changing consumer trends.

The survey shows that Kenyans are trimming their shopping budgets and favouring discounted goods in big packs to save.

The findings indicate that with an average Kenyan household spending on consumer products shrinking at three percent in 2018, the importance of affordability in driving consumption comes to the fore.

The survey further reveals that higher prices are pushing consumers to rethink ways of making ends meet by turning to purchasing on credit or favouring second hand goods.

Additionally, consumers from low-income households spending on local brands is on big packs.

This is mostly applied in home and personal care products where average consumption on big packs has grown faster than small ones, implying that consumers are looking for value.

Another important thing to note is that consumers have never before been so concerned about what they eat than now. They want more information, quality and transparency across the entire food chain.

Indeed, evolving technology has a breath of fresh air in the retail sector, and retailers must now adapt to changing consumer behaviour if they want to survive, as technology and consumer behaviour connect to inform a complex shopping trend.