What really is the impact of ecommerce in Kenya today?

I’m picking up from this tweet by Robert Alai claiming that Nakumatt is wrong being this late to get into ecommerce. Nakumatt is one of Kenya’s largest supermarket chains with ambitions to be solid in East Africa (story for another day).

Now I have been in a session where Thiaragajan Ramamurthy (TRM) was speaking

And he explained why it’s still early to get into ecommerce in Kenya if you don’t have loads of money to burn without getting returns. Foot traffic still wins in this market, we can argue this till chickens go home, but there is a reason McDonalds is referred to as a Real Estate player and not a fried potato and chicken retailer. It’s access. You don’t have the luxury of making impulse purchases when browsing through an ecommerce site. You do even when walking by a window of a store on the street.

When people get into a store, chances of being convinced either visually or by a promoter are high where you can touch, fit or even get convinced to make a purchase by a commission-hungry promoter at a store. Physical stores are also strategically placed on the way of many Kenyan consumers, like bus stops and other public places.

Ecommerce sites on the other had are mostly winning where they get exclusive deals and massive discounts on products, a necessary thing to get people interested. For a player that has been used to get it easy by real estate advantages, they won’t burn money the way ecommerce sites like Jumia do without immediate returns.


Well, this never happened. And the proponent Ramamurthy is nolonger at Nakumatt to push it. That is after they recover from the current situation, if they do.

1 Like

I think ECommerce has great potential in Kenya, only problem is that we do not have an addressing policy of some sort, though i heard a while back that a committee was being set up to work on the same in conjunction with posta, communications authority and county governments. But so far I’ve not heard any new stuff about the same. But think of a scenario where someone deep in the heart of Pipeline Estate, or somewhere in Syokimau, can make an order online from Jumia or even from the nearest supermarket. They then have it delivered to their doorstep without them having to make any follow up calls and getting outside the house to tell the delivery guy to tafuta mtu amevaa top ya blue . Wouldn’t that kind of convenience anywhere you are in Kenya be awesome? If we can get there then our eCommerce space can be vibrant


Great article! I’m using this in my ICT course work. :+1:


I’m glad it was useful @bhattkishan9.