Online shopping Kenya: The Best guide when shopping on the internet in Kenya

Online shopping Kenya all you need to know to shop on Jumia, kilimall, masoko and avechi

How often do you find yourself going to google search and typing “something I want to buy” and just like that, hundreds of online shopping options come up. And you will find the item you want, for example, a mobile phone, from more than 100 possible sellers. Not only that, there will be multiple options and colors of the phone. Not just from one supplier but online sellers including the most popular ones in Kenya like Jumia, Killimall or Avechi.

In addition to that, once you buy your goods, the delivery time is between one to two days. If you are within the surroundings of one of the major towns in Kenya like Nairobi, Thika, Nakuru, Kisumu or Mombasa, don’t be surprised if you receive the parcel within a day.

Kenya has slowly but surely picked up the pace in online shopping. In a recent article that was on the Nation newspaper, it points out that an estimate of 1 in every four Kenyans shops online. Imagine that! How incredible are those statistics? Going by this, it means that approximately 10 million + Kenyans have shopped online at any one given time. That is why saidia finds it very crucial that a guide to online shopping be available to each Kenyan.

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What this guide hopes to achieve?

So what does this online shopping guide tailored to Kenya hope to achieve? Well, there are many things, however, the main one is demystifying online shopping and showing how convenient and easy it can be. We shall do this by highlighting the basics that you need to get started, pointing out the top established online shopping websites in Kenya, help you get tutorials with videos and helping you see the advantages of shopping online.

Second, this guide will help you navigate the different types of online shopping we have in Kenya. Given that the market is still young and slowly maturing, you will find different ways of doing it. For example, there are fully established online stores like jumia, small online sellers on Instagram like @shoehubke and also international sellers like the giant Amazon online.

How do you stay safe and avoid being defrauded while shopping online? What are the best practices when shopping online? Why are reviews and comments so important when it comes to shopping online? We try to cover that in this online shopping guide.

That we currently have the greatest access to stuff of any generation in history with online shopping is a no brainer. And as online shopping slowly takes its roots in Kenya, we at saidia wanted to simplify and make more clear what is offered on the internet. Here is your complete guide on all the most important things you need to know about this modern day phenomenal.

Help us out 🙂 We want to know if you have ever shopped online. Take this very short survey below:


What do you need to get started when online shopping in Kenya?

Haya, so now, you are ready to get shopping online. You’ve spotted a lovely pair of shoes, a dress, a phone or even maybe a laptop or a T.V. Where do you start? Well, if you are reading this article, then you have what it takes to get going right away.

All you need is a way to access the internet. And this is through your phone, computer or laptop and getting an internet connection either through internet bundles or a dedicated internet link to your house.

How about if you are a business wanting to establish yourself as an online shop in Kenya? Well, there are two ways of going about this that have been highlighted by Landmark Multimedia. If you are already established business with no online presence, then you will need to take the first step of creating an online presence for your business. You can accomplish this by getting a website and establishing a social media presence. Check out how landmark multimedia.

The second way of going about it is, if you are a business that has an online presence, but now want to take the next step and automate your online shop. This means automating purchases, setting up stock management and securing the online shopping experience for your customer on your online store. 

Online shopping process:

Now that you know what you need to start shopping online, let’s take you through the general process of buying goods online. The good news is that this process is straight forward and simple. Also, once you master these basic steps, you will be able to apply across the board on most, if not all online shopping stores. The reason they do this is that they can limit the barriers to entry when utilizing these online retail stores.

Access the online store you want to shop on:

This is like driving yourself to the supermarket. Log on to the web store by either typing the url directly into the browser, or searching the website on google.

Create an account with the online store:

To enable you to pay and get your goods delivered to you, it is a must you register with the online shopping website. This way you are able to identify yourself to them and also provide critical information like the area where you are located. This is the most important step to online shopping.

Identify the goods you want to buy:

You do this by scrolling and searching the online shopping website.

Select the goods you want:

Once you have identified what you want to buy add them into the shopping cart.

Head to Checkout:

Now that you selected and placed the goods you want to buy in the shopping cart, head to the checkout area. The checkout area is where you prepare to pay for the goods.

Confirm goods/services in the shopping cart:

Once you are in the checkout area, it’s always advisable that you confirm the goods that are in your cart. This is the same way when you are checking out of the supermarket you confirm that the goods you are about to pay for are the ones you wanted to purchase.

Proceed to select the preferred payment method:

Here is where the website asks you how you will want to pay for the goods that you want to purchase. The options for payment are normally m-pesa, Paypal, credit card, debit card or cash on delivery. Select one a proceed to the next step.

Complete checkout:

Completing checkout is done by you finalizing payment and confirming that the payment has gone through. Normally the online commerce store will send a confirmation via SMS or to the email you registered with. Payment for goods can be done via m-pesa, paypal, credit card, debit card or cash on delivery.

Wait for goods and service to be delivered:

Now the waiting process begins. It all depends on whether you have ordered the product locally or internationally. Usually, goods ordered locally take anywhere from less than 24 hours to 48 hours. This depends on where you are located. Internationally shipped goods take anywhere between 10 days to 28 days depending on where you ordered them from. So be patient and track your goods online.

Return to the online shopping site to make comment on goods you bought:

One thing people forget to do after they have successfully completed their shopping online is to return and comment and rate the product/service they have bought. Why is this step so crucial, you may ask? You end up improving the experience for the next person who will be shopping for the same goods. When a shopper gets more info to make a qualified decision to buy the product or service, we all win. Also, comments and ratings help the shop owners know whether or not the goods or services meant your standards, and if not how they can improve it.

History of online shopping in Kenya:

Who remembers a time when there were no shopping malls in Kenya? Most of the restocking of household goods like Kimbo, Tosti bread and Ketepa tea would be at your local grocery shop or Kiosk. And if it was the end of the month and the house needed to be properly stocked, then you would earn a trip to the shopping center. Getting a household appliance like a radio, T.V, cooker or a fridge would warrant days of planning and a celebratory visit to Nairobi, the capital. We are talking pre-1980’s here.

Watching Caroline Mutuko brought so much nostalgia as she covered her shopping experiences growing up. It used to be a big event, massive, very highly anticipated. Sunday afternoons going to the shopping Centre was all you would look forward to. This is when shopping centers like Langata shopping center, Adams arcade, and Buruburu shopping center. Others were K&A, woolworths, Ebrahim supermarket, sunbeam supermarket.

However slowly but surely the shopping landscape continued to change. We started getting shopping malls opening up that hosted a large number of different specialty shops. From clothes boutiques, to food courts and large supermarkets that would draw crowds to this shopping mall’s. When I look back to this time, I remember the likes of the Sarit Centre and the village market dominating the market from the mid 1990’s to mid 2010’s. But now look around and you will see the influx of such establishments, each of them bigger and more porshe than the other.

Then slowly but surely, the online shopping bug finally bite Kenya. Although we were not so keen in embracing it, having seen a few startups start and fail, by mid-2014 a few startups have taken root in Kenya. Look at Jumia Kenya , Kilimall Kenya, avechi Kenya and even masoko by safaricom, all want a piece in this lucrative market.

The coming of age of Online shopping inspired events and holidays in Kenya:

Have you heard of black Friday or singles day lately? When you were scrolling through your social media timeline, did you see advertisements popping up for festive holiday shopping discounts like for Christmas day and Easter? These shopping events have increased year after year and the online businesses are relentless. Here are the biggest online shopping events of the year.

Christmas Shopping Deals:

The biggest festive holiday of the year has online shops giving some of the biggest discounts and deals. Jumia online has the Krisi na Jumia promotion while kilimall have massive discounts on their site as well.

Mobile week shopping deals:

This is the ultimate shopping festival if you are in the market shopping for a mobile phone. It is the perfect time to upgrade your smartphone because of amazing deals from Jumia mobile week and Kilimall mobile week.

So, you may ask when will mobile week in Kenya be In 2019? Jumia mobile week will run from 22nd March to 31st March 2019. For Kilimall, it will run in March to.

Black Friday shopping deals:

Black Friday is an event that happens once a year in the shopping calendar. Made popular in the western world, it refers to the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States which normally occurs on the fourth Thursday of November.

This trend has really caught on in the 254 area code. With large online stores like Jumia and Kilimall taking part in these events. Jumia has its annual Jumia Black Friday sale running for the whole month of November. Kilimall, another major player in online shopping in Kenya has an annual black Friday sales event.

Cyber Monday Deals:

This is the Monday following black-Friday. Though it hasn’t really caught on in Kenya, I have a feeling it slowly will.

Deals of the week:

To encourage shoppers to buy goods when there is no major holiday, most online stores promote weekly deals that are very irresistible. Check out some of the deals here.

Valentine’s Day shopping Deals:

The official day of love which occurs on the 14th of February every year is a prime day for deals and offers. The biggest online stores like Jumia and Kilimall have Valentine’s day deals. This year Jumia had the promotion called Jumia loves you, while Kilimall ran the v-day sale.

Easter Deals:

One of the biggest holidays in the year brings with it massive discounts and sales. For example the ‘Egg-cellent’ Easter deals by Jumia Kenya for the event on 21st April and Easter deal fiesta by kilimall.

Anniversary Deals:

Shopping website anniversaries are another time when deals are plentiful. This is what we call the birthday months for the shopping websites. Jumia will be celebrating it’s 7th anniversary in July and Kilimall its 5th anniversary in July. You will enjoy discounts of up to 80% for helping them celebrate their birthday.

Other Deals:

These are not all the deals that happen during the year. Check out our complete list of all the online shopping inspired events that happen in Kenya.

What categories are covered in online shopping in Kenya?

So, online shopping falls broadly under the category of e-commerce websites. This is because it is a form of electronic commerce which allows consumers to directly buy goods or services from a seller over the Internet using a web browser or an app. As broad as online shopping is, here we shall cover the two most popular types. These are online shopping stores and online marketplaces.

More often than not, these two online shopping categories are almost always misrepresented and or mixed up. To clear the air, an online marketplace represents a type of e-commerce site that products or service information is provided by multiple third parties, however, transactions are processed by the marketplace operator for example Jumia . On the other hand, an online store is simply a website or application by which goods and services are sold over the internet, most of the time they are fully controlled by the store owner. An example of this would be soys, an online liquor store.

However, in many circumstances, we have seen players merge these two categories to form a multichannel e-commerce. Here is where the retailer uses both the online market place model and online store models to market and sell products. An example of this hybrid setup is the world renown leader amazon and the biggest online shopping website in Kenya and Africa, Jumia.

Categories of goods you can buy online in Kenya:

So, what is it that Kenyans buy mostly when they decide to shop online?

  • Phones and Tablets:
  • Clothing:
  • Shoes:
  • Consumer electronics:
  • Books, movies, music and games:
  • Cosmetics and body care:
  • Bags and accessories:
  • Food and drinks:
  • Household appliances:
  • Furniture and household goods:

Check out the top 10 online websites in Kenya.

Advantages of online shopping in Kenya:

Pros and benefits of online shopping to the shoppers

  • Online shopping is convenient; you get to shop from your bed or toilet if you want.
  • It brings good prices because of competition.
  • A lot of variety and range when it comes to goods and services.
  • Online shopping gives the user more control over what they want to buy.
  • It has enabled users to easily compare prices and products.
  • With online shopping, you save time because there are no lines or crowds.
  • When you are online shopping you get detailed information of the product.
  • You can get amazing discounts when you are shopping online.
  • It has made it easy to send gifts to your loved ones.
  • Available at all times.

Pros and benefits of online shopping for business owners

For your business, having an online shop can be very beneficial. Check out how below:

  • Having an online store increases your sales hence pushing income up.
  • You get convenience since your online shop is always open.
  • An online store owner gets flexibility since they can work anytime from anywhere. This happens when you automate.
  • It can help you reduce costs of running your business especially when you compare it to setting up a traditional brick and motor store.
  • Having an online shop is cost effective compared to having a physical store.
  • It is quick to start up an online store compared to a physical store.
  • You can easily find your best selling products.
  • Having an online store is mentally stimulating.
  • You get reduced staff requirements.
  • It enables you to sell a wider range of goods.
  • Reduced staff requirements.

Disadvantages of online shopping in Kenya:

Cons of online shopping to the shoppers

  • Online shopping can have Shipping problems and delays.
  • It has a negative environmental impact from packaging and pollution from delivery cars.
  • There is a higher risk of fraud.
  • When you do online shopping you have less contact with your community as compared to physical shopping.
  • It leads to users spending too much time online
  • Having to return goods can be a bit complicated.
  • Sometimes you don’t know exactly what you’re getting because you are seeing a picture.
  • Online shopping can be frustrating because there is no sale assistance

To the business owners:

It can be viewed as an additional cost.

What has improved in the last 10 years with online shopping in Kenya?

Online shopping has been mainstream in Kenya for a while now. What has made it more usable now compared to a few years ago?

Methods of payment:

You can now pay using so many options. This is compared to back in the day when it was only pay on delivery. Now you can pay using the following methods:

  • You can pay using mobile money transfer platforms such as m-pesa or airtel money.
  • Also, pay using cash on delivery.
  • Another option is paying using a credit card.
  • Pay using a debit card.

Delivery time:

Online stores such as Kilimall and Jumia have really invested in creating drop off points otherwise known as sell centers. This means that delivery time across the country has significantly improved. Now a day you can get your item delivered to your doorstep or drop off point near you in less than two days. It gets even better if you are within the CBD delivery can be done the same day.

Product availability:

Online shopping stores in Kenya have really improved the availability of goods. This means that more often than not, all the goods you see when scrolling on their website are readily available and can be purchased and delivered to you right away.

Product diversity:

As the online shopping market in Kenya has expanded, so has the diversity of products that are sold online. For example, a few years back, the only products that were sold online were nonperishables i.e. Mobile phones, Televisions, clothes, and shoes. Slowly but surely, now you can get almost anything you can think of online. You can now order household goods and even food directly from the web.

The entry of websites like Jumia food and yum Kenya which allow you to buy food from a wide variety of restaurants online.


Social media and its role in online shopping in Kenya:

Social media has had a very big part to play in the growth of online shopping. Not just because of big online stores and market places advertising and promoting online shopping, but also because here is where boutiques stores thrive. Facebook, Instagram, snapchat and WhatsApp have become ways of selling online. This is so evident especially when it comes to getting that unique fashion item.

The preferred platform of most small scale shops is Instagram because of it is primarily visual. Most of these businesses likely have a physical shop in town or CBD but have realized how much value social platforms like Instagram bring to their business. When you are scrolling through your timeline or passing time on the discover page, you might come across a dress or a shoe that makes you turn your head. This interest that has been generated by the well-prepared post will then take you the potential customer to their page Here you can find specialty boutique stores such as sheikhs collexion [ link:]. This also works the same with social media platforms like facebook, snapchat, and Twitter.

All these things come together to make the online shopping experience in Kenya a very interesting area to watch.


We would love to hear your thoughts about this article. Submit your comments to the editor by writing to [email protected].


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