Is there any sector Safaricom will not put its tentacles into? Apparently not.
Months ago, they drove into the taxi business when it became apparent that Uber was doing well and that there was money to be made. Partnering with a local company, they launched Little Cabs.
That was only the most publicized of their side projects, but in reality the giant telecom has been accused of ‘stealing’ and implementing many ideas in diverse sectors.
Now, according to Techweez, Safaricom is about to enter the e-commerce business, coming for the piece of the pie currently dominated by Jumia and Kilimall.
The mobile service provider is set to launch an e-commerce platform, reportedly going by the name Masoko.
Obviously they will try to improve on the services currently on offer, and being the deep pocketed corporation that they are, the certainly can. The most obvious way to improve on current e-commerce offerings is by making a major leap on the logistics side. This is especially true if they will allow small businesspeople to sell on the site. Because if you have to meet with your customer at an alley in Nairobi to deliver your good, then you can as well sell on Facebook or OLX.
One of the reasons e-commerce adoption has been slow, especially C2C is the lack of supporting infrastructure like drop-off points/offices in both small and large towns. While the likes of Kilimall can deliver a product to your doorstep, it is the first part of this chain that makes selling difficult. How will the seller deliver it to Kilimall in a cost effective way?
Hopefully, Safaricom’s deep pockets can solve this puzzle.
According to reports, internal testing of Masoko.co.ke started yesterday (Thursday 27), with a 50% off on fashion items for employees. The public roll-out is expected in August.
According to an insider, this new e-commerce platform is for the main purpose of boosting the Lipa na Mpesa payment platform. But I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the extra shilling that might come with it.
Safaricom may be approaching Sh1 Trillion in market capitalization, but whether they are ready to pour in enough cash for this to be a ‘Jumia-killer’ remains to be seen. This is considering Jumia has spent a few billions since launch, mostly in advertising.