- Kenya’s online retailer, Sky.Garden has relaunched operations following a $1.6 million buyout by Lipa Later Group.
- This move has propelled Sky.Garden will revamp its platform, aiming to onboard 100,000 merchants in 2024.
- The revamped platform introduces a suite of new products, including Sky.Tickets, Sky.Logistics, Sky.Commerce, and Sky.Wallet.
Sky.Garden, one of Kenya’s online retail platforms, has relaunched operations in East Africa’s most advanced economy following a $1.6 million buyout by the Lipa Later Group.
This strategic move has propelled Sky.Garden will revamp its platform, introducing innovative features and diversified product offerings, to onboard 100,000 merchants by 2024.
During the launch event, Juliet Wanjiru, the Head of e-commerce at Sky.Garden shared the company’s visionary strides, highlighting the platform’s evolution into a comprehensive e-commerce ecosystem transcending conventional online retail. Wanjiru emphasized.
Sky.Garden unveils a new suite of platforms.
“Today marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Sky. As we embark on a transformative journey to enhance and broaden our offerings for merchants and customer communities,” Juliet noted.
The revamped platform introduces a suite of new products, including Sky.Tickets, Sky.Logistics, Sky.Commerce, and Sky.Wallet. These pivotal additions offer tailored solutions, empowering merchants with access to financial resources, real-time transaction monitoring, direct bill payments (including utility bills and salaries), seamless M-PESA or bank deposits and withdrawals, alongside the capability to open a bank account—providing comprehensive financial support crucial for powering all merchant transactions.
Meanwhile, Sky.Logistics introduces same-day delivery services, ensuring customers access quality products at affordable prices. The Sky.Commerce platform integrates social interactions with e-commerce, enabling shoppers to explore, share, and directly purchase products within their social networks. Simultaneously, merchants can reduce online interaction efforts and make sales anytime, anywhere.
Wanjiru explained: “The Sky.Garden ecosystem offers the convenience of online shopping and the infrastructure for local businesses to thrive. Entrepreneurs can build, grow, and expand their ventures within our ecosystem, while shoppers enjoy an unparalleled variety of products and services that continually evolve to meet their needs.”
Sky.Garden a catalyst for African businesses and growth
Eric Muli, the CEO of Lipa Later Group, cited the twofold impact of this investment, empowering both businesses and customers.
“Our vision is to be a commerce catalyst for African businesses and communities. This local insight has empowered us to bring the vast world of e-commerce closer to Kenyans while creating opportunities for local entrepreneurs to thrive,” he explained.
Muli also highlighted the introduction of ‘Buy Now, Pay Later,’ powered by Lipa Later, as a convenient alternative payment option, fostering transactional flexibility and ease.
This relaunch aligns with the burgeoning e-commerce landscape in Kenya and across Africa, driven by increased internet penetration and more affordable data costs.
Globally, social commerce is anticipated to surge threefold compared to traditional trade, reaching $1.2 trillion by 2025. This is predominantly driven by Gen Z and Millennial social media users, expected to account for 62 percent of global social commerce spending.
Challenges of e-commerce in Africa
According to the US International Trade Administration, African nations still lag behind global averages in consumer banking habits, with almost half of adults lacking formal bank accounts and preferring cash transactions.
However, Kenya emerges as a standout leader on the African continent, with an impressive 88 per cent of its population holding bank accounts. Following closely are South Africa at 82 per cent, Nigeria at 51 per cent, Morocco at 42 per cent, and Egypt at 38 per cent. Despite these strides in banking participation, a significant portion of the African population remains disconnected from traditional banking products.
Debit card usage presents a modest 10 per cent penetration among the population, while credit card ownership rates are notably low, averaging a mere 2 per cent across the entire continent.
Consequently, online payments continue to pose a persistent challenge for businesses seeking to tap into the growing e-commerce market in African nations. The prevalence of cash transactions and the limited adoption of electronic payment methods underscore the need for innovative solutions to bridge the gap and foster broader financial inclusion in the region.
In light of these statistics, it becomes evident that unlocking the potential of e-commerce in Africa requires addressing the barriers to online payments. As businesses strive to reach consumers in these markets, there is a compelling need for tailored strategies that accommodate the prevailing banking habits and preferences, promoting a seamless transition toward digital transactions and fostering economic growth.