KENYA: Companies turn to e-commerce to attract customers locked at home

On Monday, Tuskys supermarket set the tone by announcing a deal with Sendy, a logistics company, that will see customers order goods online from the retail chain, which will be delivered at their doorsteps.

According to Tuskys, the idea is also hinged on ensuring customers do not carry wads of cash, which are an agent of the virus' spread.

“We are pleased to announce to you the partnership agreement between the company and a leading logistics partner, Sendy, to help curb the spread of coronavirus in line with the government’s directive,” read a statement by the retailer.

Dan Githua, Tuskys chief executive officer, said in two days, all Tuskys outlets around the country will be offering the delivery services.

Naivas, which entered a partnership with on-demand courier service Glovo in July 2019, said it will continue delivering goods to customers at home.

E-commerce company Jumia has also partnered with Reckitt Benckiser (RB) to provide free shipping of hygiene products into the country.

Reckitt Benckiser, a British multinational consumer goods company, will be offering free shipping of all its listed products, which include soap bars, disinfectants and liquid hand wash.

“We strive to continue operating so that customers continue to use e-commerce as a safe way to shop in this challenging time," said Romain Christodoulou, senior vice president Jumia Group.

"We are proud to work closely with Reckitt Benckiser through the “Stay Safe” campaign, which shares consistent information about Covid-19 and provides access to key hygiene products at the most affordable prices possible.”

Davis and Shirtliff, a supplier of water equipment such as water pumps, solar and power solutions, water treatment equipment, irrigation accessories and chemicals, has also invited its customers to order goods online.

The firm, however, said there will be charges levied for home delivery.

Newly rebranded Absa bank has encouraged customers to go cashless as the prospect of interacting with cash becomes more dreadful.

“We strongly encourage our customers to use cashless transactions to further reduce the risk of infection,” Absa said in a statement.

Customers paying using the Absa debit card will receive a cashback of 0.3 per cent every time they make a payment. This will go on for 12 months.

All transaction fees levied on money transfer between mobile wallets and bank accounts will be waived until June 30, 2020.

Customers can deposit up to Sh150,000 per day at no cost.

All transaction fees on money transfer between Mpesa and Timiza have been waived until the same day, with deposits of up to Sh150,000 per day, again at no cost.

The bank has also waived all fees charged on PesaLink transactions up to end of April. This is to support large transfers that do not exceed Sh1 million.

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) has warned that manufacturers and retailers capitalising on the coronavirus pandemic to hike prices risk hefty fines of up to 10 per cent of their annual turnover.

Over the weekend, surgical masks prices reached Sh3,000 in some pharmacies, up from Sh350, with hand sanitisers, whose prices initially stood at Sh300 going for Sh1,400.

“It has come to the attention of the authority that following a pronouncement by the government of a confirmed coronavirus (Covid-19) case, some manufacturers and retailers are contemplating collusive increases of prices and, or hoarding with the intention of subsequently increasing prices of various consumer goods,” said CAK Director General Wang’ombe Kariuki.

Central Bank of Kenya already announced an agreement reached with Payment Service Providers to jointly facilitate increased use of mobile money transfer that will replace cash transactions.

In addition to reducing interaction of people with cash, the move is also aimed at reduction of cash in circulation in the economy.

Introduction of the home delivery might end up being the stroke of genius that makes retailers pull ahead of competition. After the coronavirus scare fades away, retention of the online selling services will probably have appealed to a lot of customers.