E-Commerce plus Mobile money services for SMEs Startups

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*Anna* is a young entrepreneur whose small business has now been in operation for one year. She has been using excel worksheets to manage her business. But this method is proving cumbersome as she gains more customers and she knows she has to find a more efficient solution that can accommodate the growth of her business which she anticipates. *Anna* starts her research by searching for terms such as “online marketing Kenya”, “E-commerce in Kenya” and so on and so forth, looking for a digital marketing professional to work with.

*Anna* represents quit a number of entrepreneurs running SME startups today. Businesses today are adopting a more automated business model approach utilizing the internet to reach customers and accepting mobile money transfer services as the mode of payment for products and services. E-commerce is set to grow further as the regional market continues to mature. Apparently in Kenya and the east African region in general, more people have access to internet through mobile gadgets (mobile phone, tablets and even laptops). According to year 2012-2013 report(referenced below) by CCK, mobile money transfer service has continued to record tremendous growth to 21.1 million up from 19.3 million recorded during the previous period (9.4% increase). There were 9.49 million internet subscribers up from 8.51 million recorded during the previous period (11.5% increase). More and more third party companies are now setting up around this emerging market to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the increased mobile accessibility in the region. For instance 3G Direct Pay, iPay, Pesapal, JamboPay are some of the companies that have cropped up around this market offering payment methods with local mobile money transfer options as well as credit card, straight from bank accounts, and e-wallets facilities.

The speed of transition from paper-based system to fully or semi-automated system is gradual depending on a number of variables like the size of business. Customers are always willing to go along so long as the experience is satisfying to them. Now there are digital companies in Kenya that have specialized in this niche, offering 360 degree solution to small and medium size businesses. A 360 degree solution include digital strategy, development of solutions (websites, e-commerce, applications), and online marketing strategies which is key in reaching out to new customers and providing a good experience to current customers.

To *Anna* and the likes, having her customers place order through her website and receiving payments on her mobile phone is a perfect spot to start. Integrating mobile payment service to her website not only provide a good experience to each and every customer every time they engage with her business, but also gives her the right tools to provide that consistent and high value customer experience, which is key in running of any business.

REFERENCES: http://www.cck.go.ke/resc/downloads/Sector_statistics_for_Quarter_2_-_2012-2013.pdf

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