Covid-19 pandemic: Lockdown likely to spur e-c*mmerce

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020 12:00 | By
Sendy courier delivering a package to a customer on Kijabe Street, Nairobi. Tuskys has partnered with Sendy to reduce traffic to physical stores in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. Photo/PD/File

Noel Wandera @NoelWandera5

The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing companies to come up with innovative ways to deliver supplies to needy Kenyans, amid fears of an expected lockdown.

Manufacturers and retailers are trying to find the best way to reach their consumers as supermarkets and pharmaceutical companies forge partnerships with online e-commerce platforms to ensure stocks flow through their delivery channels to the market.

Yesterday, supermarket chain, Tuskys announced it teamed up with logistics firm Sendy, to enable their customers to purchase groceries online and deliver the supplies to their homes by Sendy.

“The move will see Tuskys’ customers make groceries purchases from the comfort of their homes and have them delivered to their door steps, hence avoiding crowded areas,” said Daniel Koech, Tuskys chief commercial officer.

On Sunday, while confirming two additional cases of Kenyans who have contracted the virus through community transmission, President Uhuru Kenyatta advised people to avoid crowded places, among them shopping malls and entertainment premises.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe yesterday announced another coronavirus case bringing the number of those infected to four.

Upon announcement of the first case in Kenya by  Kagwe, shoppers flocked to various supermarkets in a panic buying mode, depleting sanitiser stocks and other basic household supplies, which also resulted in price hikes.

Hygiene products

But in a development likely to stabilise prices of these essential hygienic products, Jumia, an e-commerce platform, yesterday said it had reached an agreement with global health products manufacturer, Reckitt Benckiser to waive commission on supply of disinfectants such as Dettol, JIK, Harpic, bar soaps, and liquid hand wash, and re-invest the money into discounts on consumer prices.

In a complimentary move, Reckitt Benckiser said it will finance free shipping nationwide on the listed products with consumers accessing them from the “Stay Safe” page on Jumia.

“Jumia will be taking zero per cent commission on Dettol, Jik and Harpic, and will reinvest the initial commission into discounts on the consumer price,” said Romain Christodoulou, SVP Jumia Group.

Bart Meermans, SVP RB Health Africa, Middle East and Turkey said the free shipping proposition by Reckitt Benckiser will provide fair access to supplies for all consumers, regardless of their location.

Reckitt Benckiser has also created the Mythbuster website to update consumers on risks and best practices to avoid the virus from spreading.

Regional markets

The partnership will cover eight of the markets where Jumia operates, that is, Algeria, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.

In the US, Amazon, an e-commerce platform, is currently on a hiring spree to fill gaps created by retailers in brick and mortar following the Covid-19 pandemic.

This points to shifting preferences from physical shopping to e-shopping on back of a spreading virus.

On Monday, Telcos waived transaction charges for mobile money transfers of up to Sh1,000 to cushion Kenyans from using money that could easily transfer the virus. 

This followed President Kenyatta’s directive for people to embrace use off mobile payment channels to curb spread of Covid-19.

The Central Bank of Kenya also approved revision of transaction limits. The fee waivers will plug into the e-commerce space as people pay for their goods using mobile channels. 

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