Like Shopify, Kenya’s Sky.Garden is a SaaS product distribution platform with advanced E-commerce capabilities allowing SME’s to sell any product to defined local target audiences on digital channels with ease.
Founded this year by Christian Grubak and Martin Majlund from Denmark, their dream of starting an e-commerce firm to give SME’s access to the digital market saw Daniel Maison and Isaac Hunja join the team as a Managing Director and Marketing Director respectively.
The team says its was inspired by the fact that the state of e-commerce in Kenya caters exclusively to the top tiers of the economic pyramid, leaving little room for individuals and businesses that exist within the lower segments of the economy to reap the benefits offered by online transactions.
“Many of the business that you find running in markets such as Toi Market and Gikomba don’t have an e-commerce platform that they can use to expand their geographic reach,” said Grubak. “And many of the platforms they have access to are littered with fraudulent cases that makes it hard for them to present themselves and their products as legitimate.”
“Further, one major problem businesses face is distribution,” adds Grubak. “They may get a potential customer that wants a delivery made to them, however the cost and headache to make it happen have driven many business owners to only rely on walk-in customers. Some of these business owners don’t have physical stores as well, and spend lots of time and money dashing from location to location picking and dropping products. With Sky.Garden merchants have the benefit having their products delivered for them by our trusted delivery partners, at absolutely no cost to them!”
The team told TechMoran that they chose Kenya first because mobile penetration inches towards 80% and the shift from feature phones to low-end smartphones with 3G and 4G is rapidly increasing. Further, with M-Pesa and other mobile money solutions, little cultural adoption is needed.
For you to sell on Sky.Garden all you have to do is:
- Download the Sky.Garden Merchant App (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=garden.sky.shop) from the Google Play Store and register your web shop.
- Register an account by naming your web shop and putting in all your personal details
- Upload your products to your inventory directly on the app. Your products will automatically be placed on the Sky.Garden marketplace for customers to see (www.sky.garden)
- Share your unique web shop links to your social networks like WhatsApp, Facebook & Twitter
- Once you get an order you will be notified by a Sky.Garden customer service representative
- Your product will then be picked up and delivered to the customer
- Get paid directly to your M-Pesa.
E-commerce is not a facade in the country as Kenyans are transacting online a lot more, especially now more than ever. This is very evident with the number of businesses turning to e-commerce and social media to increase their sales.
Sky.Garden adds that previously, online shopping was exclusive to middle/upper class individuals who were looking for alternative products and bargain deals on tech products. It’s inclusive nature has shifted this dynamic by including more every day and diversified merchants on the platform- much like you would find along a typical commercial street in the CBD.
“As a result, we have witnessed a shift in the type of products being bought online; from Shower Heads, Breast pumps, duvet covers to shoe laces. This proves that customers view online shopping as a relevant and affordable source of their everyday items,” said Grubak.
Like Shopify, Sky.Garden gives sellers the power to manage their online inventory just as they would in their physical store. With the Sky.Garden app, sellers can upload as much inventory as they want, specify how many of each is in stock, adjust prices as they wish, change photos and even add product variations. Furthermore, Sky.Garden assures sellers that with every sale, their product will be picked up and delivered within 24hrs, and their payment will be sent directly to their M-Pesa immediately the customer accepts the delivery.
“Sky.Garden doesn’t want to compete with social media,” Hunja told TechMoran, “Instead we want Sky.Garden sellers to post their unique links on their existing social media pages to easily convert advertising to cash!”
For security, Sky.Garden says trust is the cornerstone of its platform. Every seller that comes onto the Sky.Garden platform is vetted by a team of Engagement Managers that go out and physically visit each of them and assess their viability on the platform. Secondly, it has a dedicated content team that sifts through the platform on a daily basis for any fraudulent products or behavior.
When a customer purchases a product on Sky.Garden, the money does not go to the merchant UNTIL the customer is happy with the product and signs it off. The payment sits in a Sky.Garden escrow account where it will be disbursed to the merchant upon approval from the customer. If the product is rejected, the money is sent back to the customer immediately and the product is returned to the seller at no cost to them.
Customers also get the opportunity to give a 1-5 star rating of their experience with every seller they transacting with and write a comment. The ratings and comments will be displayed on every web shop so that future customers can make an accurate assessment before every purchase.
At the moment, Sky.Garden only accepts M-Pesa payments. Customers pay via M-Pesa online before purchase or upon delivery, and sellers are paid via M-Pesa within 2hrs of delivery of their products, which makes us the quickest settlement platform in the country. The firm is currently working on Visa/Mastercard payments for its more established businesses as well as integrating additional mobile money payments offered by the other network operators in Kenya.
Merchants will have no entry costs or registration fees, there are also no monthly fees. Sky.Garden works on commission, and takes a service fee of 8% on every transaction. As sellers are uploading their products, there are 2 fields for price – ‘Your Prices’ & ‘Sales Price’. ‘Your Price’ is the amount of money you will get from the sale of an item. While ‘Sales Price’ is the amount the customer will pay for the item, which includes Sky.Garden’s 8% service fee. That way, sellers can very easily put in how much they want to make from the sale of an item minus Sky.Garden’s 8%.
“We realize that there is a great number of sellers that do not have access to smartphones and/or the internet. Creating a solution for this segment of the market is something we are definitely working towards,” Hunja told TechMoran.”Our primary focus is to own e-commerce in big cities in emerging markets. We also want to offer 6.1bn global smartphone users the opportunity to start their own business by 2020.”