The Like Chapaa team has been hard at work trying to change the shape of the e-commerce landscape in Kenya. We have a dream to to make it possible for even the least tech-savvy people in Kenya to do e-commerce quickly and easily. Has our labor got any fruits?

DukaPress. Coming soon. Sooner than you think.

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A New Day Has Come

I’ve just read an article in the Business Daily in which they mention some research findings of a research by Synovate Kenya (formerly Steadman). The article is titled, “Facebook now clicks trouble for TV, radio”.

According to the article (courtesy of Moses Kemibaro):

  • Kenya now has over 2 million registered users on Facebook.
  • Email is being discarded in favour of social networks like Facebook and Twitter by new Internet users in Kenya. One quarter of Kenyans who are online do not have email addresses.
  • 79% of Kenya’s Internet users are members of Facebook.
  • Daily and weekly Internet usage in Kenya have both doubled in the last two years whereas monthly usage grew by over 80% in the same period.
  • Kenyan Internet users spend approximately 70 minutes online during each visit. This utilization is comparable to the average amount of time spent on television.

Moses Kemibaro provides further analysis of the research findings here.

What does this mean for you and I? Internet usage in Kenya is growing at an astonishing rate. This, coupled with the arrival of fibre last year, means that, alas, the time has finally come for Kenyan businesses everywhere to to view and treat the Internet with great care – lest they fall by the wayside. When the Internet was taking root in the more developed countries, a lot of businesses chose to ignore it. Those businesses failed, or lost significant market share. Do not let this be you.

Moreover, if you ever had any thoughts of using the Internet to enhance your business or if you ever wanted to start an online business, then the time to act is now. Lots and lots of people are embracing the Internet, you must be one of the first movers in order to succeed early and establish yourself as a force.

Drop Shipping For Kenyans

“Drop shipping is a supply chain management technique in which the retailer does not keep goods in stock, but instead transfers customer orders and shipment details to either the manufacturer or a wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to the customer. As in all retail businesses, the retailers make their profit on the difference between the wholesale and retail price.” (Wikipedia)

What this usually means is that one can start an online shop without actually having any physical inventory – whenever you make a sale, you give the delivery details to the wholesaler or manufacturer who then does the shipping and delivery. The customers are usually clueless as to who actually shipped the goods. If your customers can live with a small delay between when they place an order and when they receive the goods, then drop shipping will probably be of great benefit to you. You will greatly reduce all inventory-related costs.

Can it work in Kenya?
Drop shipping probably can work in Kenya especially for online shops. Theoretically, all one has to do is locate a reputable drop shipper, and they are in business! However, one has to take into account that online shopping is still not big in Kenya.

In the pure form of drop shipping, the manufacturer/wholesaler ships the goods directly to the buyers. This is the defining feature and main advantage of drop shipping. But what if you are selling flash disks in Nairobi from a Chinese manufacturer? Letting the manufacturer handle the shipping of individual flash disks may turn out to be quite a hassle. Because of this, some retailers opt to have the goods shipped to them so that they can distribute them more easier to customers. But if you do this, you start incurring inventory-related costs.

It seems that the best type of goods to deal with are those in which it is usual for the customer to place an order and then wait a while for delivery. This would give the retailer time to place an order with the wholesaler/manufacturer who then sends the goods to the retailer/customer. What types of goods are these? Furniture, maybe?

Selling Outside Kenya
Things get easier if you are selling to people not in Kenya and, preferably, in the West. Such people are more used to buying online. As a testament to this, did you know that a good number of people who sell on eBay use drop shipping? Why can’t you be one of them? You can start today!

The thing to remember is that you are dealing with people living in far off countries and so you have to make sure that you understand the market. For instance, if you are in Kenya selling to Americans, an American shop will probably find it much easier to understand, access and serve the American market. You have to try do something about this fact.

In conclusion, drop shipping can work, even in Kenya. But, as with everything else, it is not easy.

Smart Ways To Make Money Online With Nil Investment

The fiber optic Internet is here with us, the Internet charges have dropped dramatically and the prices of computers too have plummeted to due to zero rating. With opportunities beckoning on our doors I don’t see why you should continue complaining that there are no jobs. With almost nil investment you can now make some money online. If you love freedom, that personal freedom to do what you love and enjoy, that comes with working without a fixed schedule or geographic location, then you are welcome to join the lucrative world of making money online with minimal investment. Even if you’re not looking to work full-time at home, the Internet offers a viable source of money which can help to supplement your regular income and improve your life style.

Today I will explore several ways in which you can make some money online. My ideas involve making real cash not points or credits or some funny rewards, they don’t require you to have your own Web domain or ask you money or have your own products or any hard-selling. Hapana. So let’s start.

Be an Online Freelancer
The easiest way to make some real bucks comes through online freelancing or contracted work. Take advantage of your skills and expertise .What do you love? Are you good in web design? Are you a good writer? Whatever your skill is put it to good use as an online freelancer. Perhaps the best place to start is getafreelancer or Elance or Guru or demand studios. No money is needed to subscribe and the registration is fairly simple. Take your time in each website and read the processes involved and make some bucks while you can. You gotta start somewhere.

Be an Affiliate
If this is the first time you are hearing this word then you have been sleeping. Affiliate marketing is one of the most lucrative ways to make passive income while you sleep and do the things you love .Young people all over the world have become millionaires and rich overnight without products of their own or any investment. Talk of Joel Comm., Russell Branson, Michael Sweeney, the king of the online marketing Rich Schfren and the John Reese-famed for making a million bucks online in 24 hours!

Anyway, affiliate marketing works like this: You sign up as an affiliate with a merchant and then promote a specific product or service and whenever a referred user makes a purchase based on your recommendations you earn some commission. If you’ve got an interest in weight loss as an example, you can make money promoting weight loss products. In terms of fashion wear, you can earn commissions by recommending friends to clothing websites with affiliate programs. Sounds fun?

The amount of money you make depends on what you are selling. Done correctly, affiliate marketing is one of the most powerful ways to make money from the web.

The best place to start is Clickbank which has over 200,000 affiliates and over 2 million affiliates’ products. Clickbank is one of the most popular affiliate networks 1)because it deals with digital or downloadable products and 2)because of its platform which makes it easier to select. Commisionjunction or cj as its commonly known is the largest network but deals with physical inventory.

Other popular affiliate networks include Amazon, Paydotcom.com similar to click bank and owned by PayPal, moreniche of which I am member (it’s so cool) and linkshare.com. There are thousands of affiliate networks and probably the best place to find the best affiliate programs is at www.associateprograms.com. Did I mention that www.africapoint.com (based in Kenya) has an affiliate program worth checking out?

Sell Your Stuff Online
Do you have pictures or do you have old stuff that you no longer need, do you love artworks or have some crafts? The Internet provides the best platform to sell your stuff. We all know eBay which provides an avenue to sell your used (new) products to people all over the world. In fact you don’t need to own any product to make money on eBay. (See drop shopping, below).

Those pictures you have may be worth some bucks. Check out citizen journalism websites like www.spymedia.com and www.citizenimage.com which will pay for your images. You can also try using www.shutterstock.com, the most established and lucrative micro-stock photography website.

Are you good in web design, content writing or graphics? , If you are, then you can sell your work at places like www.sitepoint.com or even Clickbank, warriorforum, or digitalpoint.com.

For craftworks, the best place to sell your works is www.etsy.com

Be a Dropper Shopper
This almost like affiliate marketing although it involves arbitrage (here you act as a broker).

It’s a method whereby you deal with offline retailers or exporters in other countries, or buy from one seller and sell to another.

Simply put let’s take the case of eBay. Using eBay’s pulse (sort of market research platform) you find that the most popular fashion item is skinny jeans. Next we research who are the sellers of skinny jeans – we assume our seller (the cheapest) is located in china. You contact the seller who gives you a deal of a certain % of sales (you can also get an affiliate code).Then you head straight back to eBay and find who is selling skinny jeans (in this case he is the buyer).

Armed with your information, you propose the deal to him that you can supply cheap quality skinny jeans and that you can handle shipping charges as a way to sweeten the deal. Deal done. Your supplier in china dropships (ships it directly to the eBay seller that you found) the product and remits your cut in good faith.

Otherwise with affiliate code you can simply open an eBay store and start selling skinny jeans. The seller (our guy in china) handles the shipping (drop ships-takes the product to the buyer’s doorsteps) and handles customer care issues.

Hope you get the idea .It is rather simple. Perhaps I should send you to salehoo, the world’s biggest drop shipping platform where there are thousands of cheap wholesalers located everywhere. Some of the prices offered by the drop shoppers seem outrageous but the commissions are quite handsome. Plus I find this idea of dropshipping so much applicable right here in Kenya. What do you think? Is this not what brokers do at wakulima market?

Some more hot money making ideas coming up in the next post. Keep reading.

To your success,
Kihato Mwangi

About me
I am simple young man who earns and spend most of my time online making some bucks and hunting for opportunities. I am also an entrepreneur (my firm handles life coaching, Internet marketing and how to be financially independent) and a small business consultant who is always eager to help Kenyans to be financially independent by making smart choices.

The Strawberry Store

A whole lot of people dismiss Kenyan online business as being ahead of their time. Some people even go as far as claiming online entrepreneurs in Kenya as being misguided, or even plain silly. The usual explanation is that Kenya is still very new and untested as far as the internet goes…etc etc. But who will do the ‘testing’ if no one dares to try? The good news is that more and more Kenyan online businesses are being launched. When are you launching yours?

Today, we’re going to take a look at the Strawberry Store, a Kenyan online business that specialises in importing and selling home, office and institutional furnishings and accessories. One of the co-founders, Naomi Konditi-Kivuvani, has been interviewed over at Tujuane – click here to go and read the interview which talks about the Strawberry store at length.

What I found interesting was that the store exists purely online. There is no physical showroom or shop. While I have doubts on how well this approach works in Kenya, it is a commendable and brave move. For one thing, the expenses of the store are very much reduced and the only overheads are those of hosting and maintaing the website – which are usually very minimal.

When you buy items from the Strawberry store, you either collect them at their pick-up center near Adam’s Arcade, or you can have them delivered to you starting at Kshs 200/-. Again, this is a commendable approach. However, I’d think that several strategically located pick-up centers would work better.

So, how does the Strawberry store get it’s clients? Naomi mentions that they rely on email marketing and facebook advertising. Both of these are powerful ways of getting people to notice you, especially here in Kenya. However, I wonder how well the facebook campaign is doing. To me, facebook – at least in Kenya – wouldn’t be a suitable advertising medium for most products/services. Why? Well, the majority of people who use facebook in Kenya are teenagers and other youth. Unless you’re selling something that this group can afford and would want to buy, getting their attention is not worth much.

One thing that I would wholeheartedly recommend for the Strawberry straw is a blog. The absence of a blog was something that struck me within a few minutes of browsing the site. As far as internet marketing goes, a blog is almost always something like your mothership.

All in all, I love the work that Naomi and her team are doing. I recommend that you check out the site (and make a purchase).

Parting shot:

“Running a web-store may look easy, but it’s really harder than running an ordinary physical store. This is because there’s nobody just ‘passing by’ to come into the store, you have to make people be aware of the store using creative methods. ” – Naomi Konditi-Kivuvani.

Photo by Muffet.

Build An Online Shop You Can Be Proud Of

Indeed there are many many stories of people who have made millions on the Internet and become fabulously wealthy by establishing online businesses. With billions of people surfing the Internet daily, surely one particularly attractive ‘type’ of Internet business is an online shop, right? Just look at the likes of etsy, Amazon and eBay.

Setting up an online shop is easy, with very little bars to entry. However, many online retailers are surprised at the dismal performance of their shops. This article shall attempt to address this.

Selling On The Internet
There are dramatic differences between selling online and in a physical shop. In an online shop, the shopper’s experience is limited to a computer screen. How can selling best be done through a computer screen?

Do you remember the old rule of business? The customer always comes first; she is always right. This is important even more in an online shop. It is so very easy for the shopper to click away at any time so you as the seller have to work hard to keep shoppers happy and interested – make it very easy to get any information that the shopper may need. And make the buying process as easy as possible – there’s no need (and little sense) to make people fill endless forms and register for anything.

Building an attractive physical shop is hard work. Similarly, building a good online shop takes careful planning and masterful execution. You have to make sure that the products and all information is displayed correctly as well as ensure all the back end operations work perfectly. No one wants to buy from a broken shop.

Remember that the shoppers are probably new to your website – they must learn to use your navigation and ordering system as they decide on whether to make a purchase. Sadly, these systems are often designed by tech. people who, quite honestly, don’t often put too much thought into the user experience. This is the number one reason why an online shop has low sales.

Finally, no one will purchase from your shop unless they completely trust you. Establishing trust and confidence in your site’s visitors is a complex affair but shops that function without glitches and with no typos or poor grammar are definitely ahead of the rest.

Search Engine Optimisation For Online Shops
So, you have an elegant shop. How do you attract shoppers? There are very, very, very many ways to do this. One of the most effective, however, is making it possible for people to find you when they search on Google or another search engine. The process of improving the chances of people finding your website through a search engine is called search engine optimisation (SEO).

How do search engines work? At a very basic level, search engines access your website and, in some way,decide on whether your website’s pages are more important than those of other websites. They then rank all web pages so that when people search for something, they see more useful/important pages ranking higher than others. SEO is about making your pages rank higher than others’ pages.

SEO is complex and can get very technical. However, in my experience, there are two major, Major things that you need to worry about. These are:

a. Content
Search engines do not in fact see websites as a whole and thus do not see the whole online store. A search engine indexes individual web pages and each web page in a sense stands alone. If your online store web page includes only the information provided by the manufacturer, then your product page looks no different from similar web pages put up by other online stores for that product. The trick is to have unique content for each of your website’s pages.

For example, if you are selling Kiondos online, you will want to list each kiondo on its own page. You want people who search on Google for “Kiondo” to find you so you will put unique and descriptive content on your site that mentions the term “Kiondo” and describes your content.

It is important to realize that the search engine uses only the information content and picks up nothing from any images or Flash content on the web page. However, do not forget that the people who will buy from your store are not search engines but real people – do not SEO your page so much that it puts off human visitors.

b. Links
One of the methods that search engines use to determine the importance of your website is the number and quality of websites which link to yours. It works a little like voting. If yahoo.com links to your website, search engines take it to mean that yahoo.com is saying “I vote for this site, it is useful”. So the more sites that link to you, the higher your site’s “importance”. Also, it maters if the sites that link to yours are virtually unknown or already popular/important. Links are very important in SEO and should strive to get as many as you can.

c. Things that can hurt you
Search engines try to index as many web pages of websites as they can. This is done by search engine spiders or robots that are continuously surfing the Internet to find whatever web pages they can. Unfortunately there are many ways an online store can create technical barriers that block or confuse these search engine spiders. Here are some of the more common ones: frames, session IDs, Dynamic URLs, Redirects, etc. Google publishes webmaster guidelines which will help you to avoid these.

Online Shop Internet Strategy
I know, I know, this article is not very encouraging. As I said earlier, the problem is that setting up an online shop is relatively easy and so you are bound to have strong competition. When competition is fierce, SEO often proves to be very difficult and running your business sometimes resembles trench-like warfare where you tussle and struggle with competing websites.

Many companies who believe they are selling good products spend a lot of their time and resources trumpeting the strong points and features of their products. Other companies, however, try to get into the mind of their potential customers and understand what they want. Often, such companies are more successful than those which are product-centric.

If the online shop believes it is only selling products, then the purchaser will choose based solely on the company’s product web page versus the competitors’ comparable product web pages. But what if you made your shop stand out? What if you provided more than just product pages and descriptions?

Once a potential customer is in the online shop, he or she can be encouraged to do a little exploration. If the online shop has something special about it, then the purchaser may in a sense ‘buy the shop’ before in turn buying a product from the shop. Equally a repeat buyer who has had a good first experience may well use their bookmark to return to the online store. Customers with good experiences are also more likely to refer their friends to come shop at your place.

SEO’s place is important in that it draws in potential customers to your shop. However, it is more important to make your shop stand out from the crowd.

A useful approach is to establish a brand for your shop. Your brand is something that your customers remember you with. The best brand is something that implies a promise to your customers of what benefits and experience the should expect. Another way of looking at it is establishing a unique selling proposition (USP). That is something that customers want but which is only available from your shop.

Once it is clear why customers should buy from you and not any other shop, then additional web pages can be created to demonstrate this USP further. Since the benefits of your USP is something that potential purchasers are looking for, the additional pages created should rank well in search engines and draw visitors to you. The Internet marketing strategy should thus be ensuring that more and more people are aware of the online shop and the associated USP.

The beauty of Internet marketing is that you can measure everything in great detail and decide what works and what doesn’t and your strategy can be adjusted to improve performance.

Hire Us
At Like Chapaa, we have been on the internet scene for years and we understand Internet marketing and how it works. If you want help with setting up or marketing your internet shop, we are available for hire.

Contact Us.

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