E-commerce is gaining momentum the world over with platforms such as E-Bay, Amazon and Alibaba turning into billion dollar businesses. Interestingly only 16% of the Kenyans online have used the internet for e-commerce, even with the growth of e-commerce platforms including Kilimall, Jumia, OLX and PigiaMe. At the centre of the explosion in E-commerce is the postal and courier sub-sector playing the important role of facilitating the delivery of the goods purchased on these platforms. There are currently 224 licensed courier operators in Kenya but delivery of goods and services purchased online continues to slow down growth of the sector. There were plans to create a National Addressing System which will uniquely identify residential and business premise allowing for delivery but not much has been said of it.
Keen on spurring local e-commerce, the Communications Authority of Kenya recently completed reviewing guidelines for adoption of E-commerce as well as Postal and Courier security management framework following consultations with the Public. The review of the two documents sought to intertwine e-commerce and the courier sub-sector. E-commerce sites have in recent times set out their own measures to improve goods delivery with sites such as Jumia signing deals with Postal Corporation of Kenya that will allow Jumia customers to pick goods purchased from the site at the 500 Post offices in the country. Through the model, the Postal Corporation will earn a commission on all deliveries made while Jumia will ride on this to reach more customers in all parts of the country. Olx also recently signed a deal with security and courier firm G4S to allow customers receive goods bought through the site.
The new guidelines in the review require postal or courier operators to implement mechanisms that provide for remote payment options incorporating a payment platform through a licensed financial payment services provider. They will also be required to come up with enhanced security for packages through faster parcel delivery and tracking of the courier delivery service by the company. Customers will track their packages through electronic mechanisms to ascertain location. This will applies for both inbound and outbound international packages. The electronic mechanism needs to indicate the time and location a package was received by the courier, the current estimated location and the expected delivery location and estimated delivery time. Non-automated companies will need to set up a call center to provide customer care numbers for tracking.