BrandArena: Is Kenya ready for social commerce yet?

Wednesday 19 August 2015

Is Kenya ready for social commerce yet?

In an effort to reach out to more customers, retailers are increasingly turning to social media; Facebook, Twitter, whatsapp, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Tumblr to name but a few are being used by marketers to influence consumer behavior, purchase intent, transaction and after sales services.

According to social media expert Anne Nyanchoka, social media is the first stop a consumer makes while researching for a product. If they find your product/brand online, they become more confident in you but the content also matters.

“If your content is well researched, graphics well designed and wordings well thought and you are able to interact with your customers, there are higher chances they will buy from you.”

According to Anne, consumers are also able to influence the purchase decisions of other consumers through their products service ratings. Call to action buttons such as ‘buy now’ ‘contact us’ among others initiate the urgency to purchase too. She further notes that the more likes, followers a business has on different social media platforms, the higher the engagement and viewership translating to more transactions.

“If total strangers write bad reviews about your products and services, potential customers will shy away. No one wants a bad experience.”

The explosive growth of social commerce in Kenya in the last few years has led to the creation of social media manager positions though titles vary across different companies. In Kenya Facebook groups have become a one stop for new, refurbished and second hand products. Soko Huru is an example of such a group with close to 800,000 members interacting with each other on a day-to-day basis.

Retailers have also been able to convert their existing customers into brand ambassadors, sharing and recommending products for them and better still getting paid for it. An example of such is the Jumia Kenya’s affiliate program that allows ordinary people to promote products on own social sites using a dedicated link and get paid for it.

Nick Stewart, Affiliate manager for Jumia Kenya shares, “Social commerce is ballooning and the potential is massive. Today you can make a handsome income by just posting a link on your own Facebook or twitter account. It’s that massive.”

As social commerce continues to evolve, some bloggers like Kaluka wanjala of Tech Arena  have turned their blogging passion into an income generating activity.

“Most of my mobile reviews have a dedicated link that redirects you to the actual websites where you can buy the particular phone. If you buy it, I get an agreed commission from the seller,”Kaluka Wanjala.

Regardless of the social media platform social commerce thrives on, Anne argues that it is necessary to combine presence in at least 4 major social media sites and bridge between offline and online retail as it’s easy to track and collect consumer data around their demographics without necessarily investing in expensive research.

Similar sentiments are shared by James Magua managing director Papah digital, an agency that deals in digital advertising.

“Social commerce revolves around a community where members trust the opinions of others. They will take a friend’s recommendation for a product better than a random one by a brand. It is important to leverage on this community.”

As social commerce continues to gain momentum in Kenya backed by 99% of Kenyans accessing the internet through smartphones, many factors continue to hamper its growth, from high cost of data, lack of electricity and low internet penetration in rural areas among others. The mitigation of these drawbacks is the answer to the question; Is Kenya ready for a social commerce era?

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