How do you engage ecommerce as a vendor?


#1

So there is Jumia, Kilimall, Masoko among others playing multi-vendor platforms on one side and on the other side there is free (on the book) platforms like Facebook and OLX.

Do you hop on all as a vendor or pick some leave some or just go with one, or do you go your own way?

For those who pick social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) do these work well enough for you?


#2

So far the stuff I have disposed I have done so on OLX, I don’t do it for business but just that occasional disposal, I find it more private, more secure and sincere, guys ask for more photos, and rarely will jokers contact you.


#3

I can only speak for the considerations I make when choosing a platform or advising clients which platform to showcase their products

In no particular order

Product - What are they selling?

Not everything works on eCommerce. Some clients come to consult me while halfway through their product development and so didn’t do the product/market/app therapy discussion. If you’re selling clothes for instance, Instagram is your #1 platform, your millennial market is there and you have to be there as well. Facebook is a close second. Some have built their stores using Facebook alone and now that WhatsApp integration is here, even better.

Audience - Who do they want to sell to?

Again, if it’s millennials then insta & facebook are obvious. Majority of my clients signups and sales have come from instagram alone. If you’re targeting older generations then have a website - shopify, squarespace or woocommerce capable with a blog post. Collect peoples phone numbers and once a month send them monthly/bimonthly SMS with a link to your latest article + any discounts you want to give them. Avoid newsletters as almost all mailing tools are flagged for spam. Engagement is higher in Kenya when people connect via SMS

Reputation

For Dependability
Facebook is the most reliable in that it is almost never down, can reach lots of people with little effort & cost, people mostly use their real names, sharing is easy so happy clients market for you, great review system - messages can’t be deleted, active community of users to discuss and provide help

For Vendor Management
Does the platform work to ensure vendors are vetted before opening a store on their site? Apple for instance vets EVERYONE and it’s pretty hard getting fraudulent products on there. Facebook doesn’t vet everyone but it’s the easiest to detect fraud. Jumia is struggling. No point in having vendors who simply import from China - basically middle men - when you can just buy from the vendor shops themselves in town. SafCon has in the past waived all liability when it comes to platform and vetting, insisting they only provide the service, what people do there is not their fault. OLX has ZERO VENDOR MANAGEMENT.

For Authentic Products
OLX is THE WORST when it comes to this. No gatekeeping, anyone sells anything including stolen products - phones, laptops are the highest risk averse items. Selling on OLX will hurt your company’s reputation so I advise all clients to forget it completely. Facebook & Insta work on recommendation and inviting your friends so lower chance of fraud

For Ease Of Purchase
Even without the overrated ‘Lipa na MPESA’ integration Facebook & Insta + whatsapp work best. Payments are direct to vendors personal number or Paybill in the case of SME. Jumia (and the likes - kilimall, etc) isn’t great and SafCon’s Masoko was a disaster from Day 1

For Customer Care
Aftersales is proving to be more important to millennials, with most never coming back to any vendor that takes their money and doesn’t offer support. Facebook & Insta don’t but they will shut down someone’s store and profile if reported for fraud by a number of people, and there is ‘Buyer Beware’ Jumia/Kilimall have bad reputations and SafCon was a disaster on launch.

Conclusion

If a client is serious about their product and look to invest in the long run - 5+ years then my advice is usually to open their own store online - wordpress, shopify, squarespace, focus on a specific niche to begin with and use social media & SMS to drive traffic back to their site. This way they control the entire pipeline - product, marketing, order fulfilment, customer service - and can fill any gaps with agile levels of response. Once they figure out the niche, they can expand to other products and target more customers.

An example is Masoko and their failed launch. If you ask around, SafCon’s best-selling physical products are mobile phones. Masoko would have launched with that. Partner with manufacturers who provide 20-30K units of phones at wholesale discount prices to them so they in turn sell lower than other shops. Make it impossible to consider buying phones anywhere else. Once they corner that market and figure out logistics, they can then launch a feedback program to determine their next product. Copying everyone simply because you have more money to burn is wasteful and loss leading, irresponsible to shareholders. Microsoft learnt that the hard way (and before it was too late) and now they’re back on the list of most exciting companies to watch.