CEO Weekends: Uber Duka Takes Handicraft Into The Online Market

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Online shopping does not only offer food stuffs, household shopping, clothes; this is clearly defined by Uber duka which sells handicraft.

Uber duka is founded by Ian Wanyoike; according to him, many local artists must have been losing out on millions of shillings in revenue simply due to the informal nature of referrals, which were not necessarily acted upon. Initially, Wanyoike launched it as a referral site for people interestd in particular product.

The start-up’s Creative Director, Chepkemboi Mang’ira, says that the online market place is seeking to connect craftsmen with art lovers who are looking for interesting things to buy.

So, to get the attention of the sellers, the team began approaching artists and designers through social media and emails using a list compiled during past exhibitions and fairs. Since the products are handmade, the Uber Duka team has to verify the details provided by each seller, including the name of the business, physical location, contacts, and products.

The vetting process involves visits to the business premises by Uber Duka staff to corroborate the details before a product can be uploaded on the website. Items are uploaded according to categories – arts, accessories, footwear, apparel and crafts.

Currently, the site gets 12,000 visitors, 70 sellers and 900 regular users monthly. The site’s biggest market at the moment is Kenya with a growing customer base in Amman, Jordan.

According to the creative director, the site makes profit through an eight percent mark-up placed on all items. She also highlighted that the main challenge that the site experienced is getting local designers on board since many of them have still to buy into the idea of online selling while others have limited Internet access. Uber Duka is in the process of setting up tutorials on the benefits of online marketing as well as how to use the platform.

Another challenge that the site experiences is shipping and delivery of the items, if they getan international client. She added that the address systems in Kenya, especially for the merchants form whme they collect the items from have not been updated and the details are not quite clear.

“A majority of the artists, designers and craftspeople barely have smartphones, and therefore this sort of platform is still inaccessible. They also have misconceptions about online businesses, including fear that they may not get their money and that the locals would not buy into their business if it were based online.”

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