Nairobi — The Covid-19 pandemic has unlocked the growth of e-commerce opportunities, with millions of consumers preferring to shop online.
This is according to a recent global survey conducted by MARCO, a Madrid-based communications agency.
Dubbed “MARCO Survey: Post-COVID-19 Consumption Behaviour II”, the survey, conducted from May to June, covers more countries and is a sequel to “MARCO Research: Post Covid Consumer Behaviour” carried out in April to May 2022.
In Africa, the survey was conducted in Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, and Ivory Coast.
Kenya is notably on the cusp of an e-commerce revolution, with 99 per cent of the surveyed consumers in the country saying they preferred buying online and would continue to do so post-Covid.
The survey also reveals that 58 per cent of Kenyan consumers started buying more online when the pandemic struck, while 76 per cent of their British counterparts did the same.
Clothing and fashion (56 per cent), show tickets (54 per cent), and travel (52 per cent) are the leading products purchased online more than from physical stores.
E-commerce, also known as electronic commerce, allows businesses and consumers to make online purchases.
Founder and CEO of MARCO, Didier Lagae said businesses and consumers find e-commerce to be more efficient than brick-and-mortar stores.
“Businesses save on costs, and customers can select from a wide variety of product choices and shop from anywhere in the world, at any time of day,” said Lagae, adding that “The Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in the growing use of e-commerce services by small firms to sell their products, and this may become central to the growth-led prospects of Africa”.
Besides, the CEO noted that helping the firms gain access to a larger market, e-commerce platforms also helped build consumer trust and ultimately create branding through customer ratings of sellers and strategies such as liberal product return policies.
According to the survey, television and digital media are the most effective means of influencing consumers.
TV advertising takes the lead with 64 per cent and both online advertising and online articles with 51 per cent being the channels that have the greatest influence on Kenyans when it comes to choosing one brand over another.
This, the survey shows contrasts sharply with consumers in the United Kingdom, where only 38 per cent and 33 per cent of respondents were influenced by TV and online advertising respectively when choosing one brand over another.
The survey also reveals that at 37 per cent, adverts on public transport and recommendations from influencers are the channels that connect the least with the average Kenyan consumer.
Even so, recommendations from influencers are a great determinant in the preference of one brand over another, with 84 per cent of Kenyans having bought something based on the recommendation of an influencer.
This is not the case in the UK, where only 41 per cent of respondents bought a product following the recommendation of an influencer.
A curious finding was that even with the increase in cybercrime, people do not mind sharing their personal data in exchange for some goodies.
According to the survey, 68 per cent and 64 per cent of British and Kenyan consumers respectively were willing to share their personal data in return for something for free.
It is also noteworthy that the pandemic has not changed the taste and demand of Kenyans when it comes to the purchase of second-hand products, with 50 per cent of the respondents reporting buying more second-hand products than before the pandemic.
Linda Weaver, Chief Operations Officer ACG MARCO, said: “Going forward post-pandemic, the change in customer and merchant behaviour during the pandemic is likely to stay, with an increasing number of people adopting e-commerce and becoming more aware of brands as we approach the Christmas festivities.”
More businesses have decided to open up online shops, and it is expected that e-commerce in Kenya will further accelerate and grow.
According to Statista, a German company specialising in market and consumer data, Kenya has one of the most vibrant e-commerce ecosystems in Africa and has shown steady growth.
Revenue in the Kenyan e-commerce market is expected to result in an approximated market volume of USD 2 billion by 2024.
Online sales allow businesses to reach more customers, both at home and abroad. New jobs are also created in supporting sectors such as technology companies, payment service providers such as Visa, and logistics companies.
The convenience of 24-hour online shopping and home delivery, combined with much greater product choice, is likely to become increasingly valuable to customers everywhere.