Running a successful “e-commerce” business is not just about posting items online, but encompasses a larger scope. It is about doing business with an entirely different mind-set, using a medium that challenges the very basic rules of traditional Ugandan ways of doing business. E-commerce is a completely new concept to most and so they are expected to find it quite hard to easily adopt and also to learn how it works. In a surprising trend, more millennials (25– 33year olds) in Kampala are buying merchandise online rather than at physical shops.
Kaymu.co.ug is the leading e-commerce platform in Uganda and they attribute their success to implementing several ways of attracting and retaining customers like exclusive codes, special discounts, and coupons from time to time. Cynthia Tumwine, a 26 year old TV presenter says she got her first Kaymu item as a gift.
“A friend asked me to choose a birthday gift from the site. I couldn’t believe how easy and convenient it was. I used to have to find time to walk through stores and negotiate with sellers, I don’t remember when the last time I did that was,” she says and adds, “My mom doesn’t understand it though, she says I’m being lazy.”
Laziness isn’t her mother’s only reason, despite the fact that Africa’s middle class is rising and they have money to spend, mistrust in online payment methods is one explanation for millennials embracing online shopping at a faster rate than the generation before them. Kaymu Uganda’s Sales manager Lisa Kaitare says
“In most European countries, there is more of a direct debit like culture, while in Africa and Uganda in particular, consumers tend to prefer paying cash on delivery – and usually not until they have unpacked the goods and tried them out. So we do it the Ugandan way, we’ll deliver the order to wherever you are and you won’t be forced to pay for it if it doesn’t meet your expectations.”
The site employs a great number of youth in Kampala and creates business opportunities for vendors that didn’t have a access to consumers beyond their stalls. With deepening internet penetration, the trend suggests that it’s inevitable that more Ugandan consumers will migrate to e-commerce over the next five years. In the meantime, Kaymu is connecting global brands with the country’s emerging consumers.