E-commerce has been on the upsurge since it entered the Kenyan market. In 2014 the Kenyan e-commerce market was valued at around Kshs 4.3 billion. Back then the smartphone penetration percentage stood at 82.6 and 35.5 million users. These numbers have grown over the years and currently stands at 39.1 million users. This means good news for the Kenyan players led by Jumia, Kilimall and a soon to be launched platform by Safaricom dubbed “Masoko”.
The e-commerce experience has never been “complete” to date. Leading e-commerce platforms world over have a cashless system that is less tedious with a limited option for Cash on Delivery in certain areas. In Kenya, the shopping experience is centered on cash. In a previous article, there was a clarion call to address some of these issues. I then carried out a small study to try and answer some of these questions.
A google form was created to collect opinions on why there seemed to be skepticism in paying for items online. The google form was then shared on social media platforms to collect views from the public.
A total of 39 responses were recorded. In terms of demographics there were 26 men (66.7%) and 13 women (33.33). In terms of age segmentation, majority of the respondents (94.9) 37 in number were between 18-35 years old. Only 2 respondents were 35 years and above. When asked to describe the general online shopping experience, 18 (46.2%) found it good while 13 (33.3%) found it excellent. 5(12.8%)respondents found the experience to be fair and 3 said the shopping experience was very poor.
On matters payment, the bigger chunk preferred to pay for items through Cash on Delivery and MPESA 17(43.6%) and 13 (33.3%) respectively. Only 9 (23.1%) attributed preferring to use their Credit/Debit card for such transactions.
On asked what informed their payment modes, 24 (61.5%) said convenience was key to them. 13 (33.3%) came in a distant second highlighting security as their major issue. Others noted to prefer COD (Cash on Delivery) in order to avoid additional hefty charges that Credit/Debit cards would attract.
The final question asked the respondents on why they were reluctant to use Credit/Debit Cards. 17 (43.6%) respondents commented on the fear of being conned. The second group 11 (28.2%) noted that they do not like to pay for items before they can actually see them. 8 (20.5%) said that they feared giving out their credit card information online for fear of fraud. 2(5.1%) said that they would generally feel uncomfortable sharing any kind of personal information. Among the choices in the form was if they know how to use their credit cards to pay for goods online. None of the respondents talked about it.
From the very onset, it was imperative to note that majority of the respondents were between 18-35 years old. This could suggest that a younger generation feel more persuaded with the concept of e-commerce as opposed to conventional shopping. The older generation would still opt for the latter. In terms of the general shopping experience, it was noted that it wasn’t stellar but then again it was not so bad.
Navigation through the website was easy enough and the process wasn’t much of a hassle. First timers had opined that the User Experience was not too good as some items were listed on the front page only to find a “404 not found” on clicking the link. Others noted that the items did not have enough images to be able to view a product and decide.
In terms of payment, majority preferred Cash on Delivery as it was the most convenient thing to do. “Why would you want to dish out money before the product arrived?”, a respondent asked. If they did not have cash available the second-best option would be MPESA on their phones. Interestingly, one respondent noted that he would rather use MPESA but still withdraw from the bank account through Mobile Banking but would not use his Credit/Debit card directly. This long process was justified by an “I need to be secure, hackers are out there” statement.
This whole discussion was further strengthened by the several stories of people being conned by paying for items online. On asked whether they had friends/acquaintances who had been conned, only 2 out of the respondents gave an encounter. While they had not generally encountered it, the fear of the unknown still reigned supreme.
While the advantages of e-commerce in Kenya cannot be gainsaid, there is need to gentrify the whole shopping experience. Online payments need to be strengthened since they are the most secure in the inter-webs. This will hasten the whole shopping experience.
On alleviating Cash on Delivery as the main mode of payment, this will take a lot of effort as customers noted that the item delivered was different from the one online hence the need to hold back payment until the item is delivered. E-commerce sites should build trust with their customers to have a better experience.