Lagat NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Mercy Ngungi, a bubbly 23-year-old Kenyan
youth, was initially skeptical about the hyped magic accompanying online
shopping until recently when she discovered that its thrills, convenience and
safety are unrivalled.
The communications graduate from a
local university is currently an avid fan of Kenya’s mushrooming online retail
firms that have reshaped shopping while striking a powerful chord with the
country’s tech-savvy youth.
During an interview with Xinhua,
Ngungi confessed that her unquenchable appetite for online shopping has shocked
her relatives and friends.
“My initial resistance to online
shopping was based on myths and misinformation but now I am a fully
converted having realized its benefits are immense,” said Ngungi.
Her enthusiasm for online shopping
intensified late last year when she ordered for a Christmas dress and shoes from
swanky clothing line that delivered them at her doorstep on time.
“I could not believe my eyes when
somebody from a courier service knocked at my door to deliver the stylish
dress and open shoes I had just ordered online from a new clothing line in
town,” Ngungi told Xinhua.
Early this year, Ngungi purchased a
Huawei phone from Kilimall, a thriving online retail giant owned by Chinese
investors that drew her attention last fall when the company embarked on a
publicity blitz to woo customers.
“It was during Black Friday in
November last year when I learnt about discounted prices of electronic
gadgets like phones and laptops at Kilimall. I saved enough to buy this
slick Huawei phone and plans to order for a laptop a few months from now,”
She is among a burgeoning population
of young Kenyans who have abandoned brick and mortar shopping malls thanks to
the irresistible appeal offered by their online rivals.
As Kenya’s e-commerce sector grows by
leaps and bounds in recent times, it has unleashed multiple benefits to
investors and consumers alike.
Pundits hailed supportive
infrastructure, friendly regulations and high digital literacy for the rapid
growth of online retail sector in the East Africa’s largest economy.
“There is no doubt the online retail
market in this country has a promising future given its wholesome embrace by
urban youth with disposable income,” said Mike Ouma, an ICT analyst
Kenya’s leading online retail firms
that include Kilimall, OLX and Jumia are competing ferociously for a slice of
the pie in the booming industry.
Consumers have nevertheless relished
this cut-throat competition by online shopping malls since they are guaranteed
of discounted prices and quality service.
Charles Murage, a 31-year-old jazz
artist and event’s organizer, admitted his love for online shopping, which he
described as pleasurable, hassles-free and cheaper.
“Imagine slouching on the couch during
the day only to click an order for pizza which is delivered at breakneck
speed. This is the future we all dreamt of and hope there will be no relapse
to the bygone era of enduring long queues in the shopping malls,” said
The widely-travelled youngster has for
the last three years been purchasing electronic gadgets and clothes through
“Online retail firms have an
extra-ordinary ability to connect directly to consumers. They are highly
adaptable and always deliver quality service,” Murage said.
Kenya has been a regional hub for
investors in online retail sector thanks to higher Internet connectivity in
major cities and rural towns.
An economic survey released by Kenya
National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in 2015 revealed that 54.8 percent of the
country’s population or 22.3 million people were connected to the Internet.
Elsewhere, a survey conducted by
America’s research firm, Pew Research Centre ranked Kenya second after South
Africa in terms of Internet penetration in sub-Saharan Africa.
The survey revealed that four out of
ten Kenyan adults had reliable access to Internet in any given day through smart
phones, laptops or computers.
Experts agreed that investments in
broadband infrastructure that has accelerated lately alongside availability of
cheaper smart phones will fuel growth of e-commerce in Kenya.
“Rapid expansion of fiber optic
alongside cheap data bundles provided by telecommunication giants has made
it easier for Kenyans to shop online,” remarked Steve Umidha, a financial