Unstable Internet connectivity has been blamed for slowing down the launch of Kenya’s largest retail chain store Nakumatt’s online shopping website.
“Connectivity is one of the biggest challenges that we face at the moment. We cannot afford downtime especially when handling credit cards,” Ajay Kumar, Nakumatt’s chief technology officer, told The Standard.
“We have a main provider and a back up but that is still not enough because there have been instances where we end up without connectivity,” he added.
He said that they were currently evaluating providers and the service will be launched once they have enough redundancy, in approximately four months.
Kumar admitted that there is market for online shopping in Kenya, saying online shopping in Kenya has not been exploited and that those that have made attempts have been hindered by certain challenges such as logistics.
“However, we are trying to factor everything before launch,” he said.
The company will also be targeting Kenyans in the Diaspora, where users abroad will buy items and have them delivered to their family and friends in Kenya. This will eliminate the need for them to send money through different money transfer platforms, hence helping them cut costs.
However, there has been a low uptake of credit cards in Kenya, which is credited with having slowed down online shopping uptake in the East African country.
Nakumatt has for this reason partnered with Mastercard, and will re-issue Nakumatt Smart cards, the company loyalty cards, with a multi-currency MasterCard prepaid loyalty card. Currently, the supermarket chain has over one million smart card holders.
Other online shopping sites have heavily relied on Kenya’s stable mobile money market, with several start-ups like Jambo Pay,
enabling merchants to receive online payments.