E-Commerce is rapidly changing the way in which retailers sell products worldwide. There are already some budding e-commerce activities in Africa, but growth of functional e-commerce sites has been quite slow. This is largely due to limited internet access and the complexity of having to organize transport in countries which lack basic infrastructure. Many countries in Africa are also not aware of the vast opportunities that e-commerce holds.
Despite the adversity, Africa has recently seen the development of a group of e-commerce websites which have the potential to revolutionize the online retail space. We have chosen five innovative e-commerce sites across the continent which are capitalizing on the opportunities e-commerce holds.
Yuppiechef is based in South Africa and is an online store where you will find any kitchen tool imaginable. They redefine cooking shows by making you want to be in your kitchen rather than on your sofa.
“We believe that life is too short to flip an egg with just any run-of-the-mill spatula. We search the world of kitchen tools to bring the very finest culinary assets to your South African doorstep.”
Not only does Yuppiechef have a great website design and layout, they also deliver your product to your doorstep along with a personalized hand-written note from the Yuppiechef team.
This ensures that customers always receive a different message and are made to feel appreciated.
Botswanacraft offers unique basketry and Bushman Crafts from Botswana. In 1970, Botswanacraft was established in order to develop the rural based handicraft industry in Botswana. At present, it is the largest retailer and exporter of handicrafts.
Botswana is known as a wealthy country, but a big majority of the country lives in rural areas and is poor with little employment opportunities.
Indirectly Botswanacraft creates work and gives hope to many of the rural craft producers in and around the country. Botswanacraft also imports other local products from the southern African region as well as many other developing countries.
The different products they offer online are traditional baskets, San crafts and jewellery, various books of Botswana and some of the traditional San music. No one basket looks the same as each basket is made individually, giving it that personal touch.
Atsoko.com, based in Africa, is part of the Atsoko International AB which is founded and based in Sweden. They bring Europe and America closer to the people in Rwanda and Tanzania. Atsoko gives its customers a personal shopping service where they can order from their favourite online store in Europe or America. Customers create a shopping list of what they want, send it to Atsoko via e-mail and within a day they receive a quote from Atsoko. Customers pay Atsoko and Atsoko orders and deliver the products.
“We are a creative organization that pushes the boundaries for developing our business. Our mission is to be a pioneer within online shopping in the markets where we operate. We are inventive and responsive to our clients needs and deliver what they want, on time.
4. Ushop – Zambia
UShop offers customers a variety of grocery, household and electronics to choose from. They are one of Tanzania’s supermarkets as they buy directly from wholesalers. UShop saves customers’ the time and effort by delivering their groceries to their home.
From anywhere in the world, you can order for a friend or family member in Zambia, buy vouchers which you can use later and also prepare your order and store it for later use.
Kalahari recently extended their services to Kenya. Although they offer a smaller subset of products, they are still the leading online retailer in Kenya offering books, music, DVDs, games and many more products. The eBook service is not yet available in Kenya, but payment through M-PESA or electronic transfers are available.
People who live outside Kenya can still shop for the family back home by making use of the Kalahari.co.ke services. All the Kalahari.net services that is available for the South African market, is now also made available to the Kenyan market.
Each of these e-commerce sites has found creative solutions for overcoming challenges which exist on the continent. Spanning across Africa, they are bringing local and international products to customers and starting to change the retail experience. We would love to hear your opinion on which e-commerce sites you find some interesting and think are leading the way to a vibrant online retail experience.