The online space has created employment opportunities as well as grown small companies into big entities and more are yet to be born out of it. Online marketing is gaining momentum in Kenya and there many start-ups which are making it big in this area, one of them is DukaLako.
Dukalako is an online market platform that facilitates buying and selling in Kenya. Their aim is to make it possible for a person to make online sales irrespective of which area in the country he/she is in not having to leave the comfort of their homes. With DukaLako personal details like phone numbers do not need to be shared with the seller or listed on a public website.
Movement of items between the two is by courier. The Buyer is not at risk because Dukalako ensures that the seller will only receive funds once the buyer has received their item.
TechMoran managed to get hold of the two founders of the online market platform, Clement Langat and Dennis Langat (Surprisingly they are not related in any way). Both of them are also Directors of the company with Clement in charge of operations and Dennis in charge of Marketing. Dukalako has employed 5 staff members to assist with Marketing, Web Development, Customer Service and Sales.
DukaLako does into get funding from any other source as they generate revenue from charging a small commission on each transaction and from advertising on our platform
About the founders
Clement has been in Australia for the past 14 years where he had gone to further his studies
Prior to starting Dukalako he was running an IT Support company with Dennis in Perth Australia. He was employed in the IT and Accounting industry for several years in Perth Australia.
Dennis has also been in Australia for 14 years prior to coming to Kenya. He was running an IT Support business with Clement before starting Dukalako. Prior to this he was an Operations Manager with a leading company in the mining and resources sector.
The inspiration behind the DukaLako idea
Clement says that: “Four years ago while we were living in Australia, we asked ourselves why a platform like eBay had failed to penetrate the Kenyan market and indeed the rest of the developing world.”
The benefits of such a platform succeeding in Kenya became clearer as the major problem in Kenya is traffic congestion and a not so good road network.
“We resolved then to build a platform that would acknowledge and accommodate the uniqueness of the Kenyan online market,” added Clement.
So what solutions is DukaLako offering
- The buyer and seller can conduct all transactions from home without having to step outside. Pickup and delivery of the item is done by courier. The days of travelling from one town to another to purchase a spare part or a gadget will soon be long gone.
- There are flexible ways of making payment, including Mpesa, Yucash, Airtel money and credit card.
- Listing is free
Security and Safety
- There is no need to meet strangers at public places, your home or anywhere else for that matter. Pickup and delivery is done by recognized couriers.
- Private details like phone numbers do not need to be listed on a public website
- The buyer’s money is not at risk because it will only be released to the seller once the buyer confirms that they have received their purchase.
Opportunities for small business
- Listing is free so any business can set up its own shop within Dukalako, increasing its customer base from the people who would walk past the shop on any given day to the millions of Kenyans who access the internet daily.
- In days to come retail businesses will be able to wholly exist and thrive online without need for a physical presence. This will enable them to save on costs like rent, utilities and staffing.
- Dukalako has made it possible for musicians to sell their songs in a transparent and straightforward manner.
- Listing a song is free.
- The musician sets the price of each song; they are able to set a price for the Kenyan market, and a price for the diaspora.
- The musician can monitor how many songs they have sold at any anytime through their dashboard.
- At this point in time, musicians get 80% of the sale price of each song. No one else in the country does this.
This how DukaLako works
- The Seller lists their item on Dukalako for free.
- Buyer comes to the website, identifies what they want and clicks to buy.
- Buyer makes payment using their preferred option.
- Once payment is received, instructions are sent to the seller to prepare the item for shipping. The courier is also dispatched to pick up the item. (For songs, the download link is sent to the buyer once payment is complete)
- Courier delivers item to buyer (overnight).
- Buyer checks the item they have received then notifies Dukalako to release the payment to seller.
- Seller receives payment.
There is a video that describes all this on our website http://dukalako.com/index.php/how-it-works
DukaLako’s Most Important Client
Our most important customers are all Kenyans who have access to the internet and are time poor. They can sell what they no longer need hence freeing up their cash or make purchases easily. To them we provide convenience and security.
Our other important customers are musicians; we give them control, transparency and a fair return for their hard work.
Small retailers are also another group of important clients. We have given them the ability to expand their client base countrywide.
Achievements and Challenges
One of our biggest challenges this start-up has experienced is pricing the items online. The two agree that kenyans love to bargain so much that it forces then to quote a very high price so that when lowering it would not hurt their revenues.
“While our platform allows bargaining, it is still not ideal in an online environment. We have therefore had to go out and teach our sellers to start off by listing the lowest price possible for their item,” says Clement.
The other challenge they consider is the fact that they have to educate their sellers about having good quality photos and detailed descriptions of their products.
“Despite being active for barely one month, big music names have already listed with us like Khaligraph Jones, Rabbit aka Kaka Sungura, Size8, LJ Maasai and many more,” says Clement. “Members of the public and small retailers are excited by the opportunity we are offering and are signing in large numbers daily. We currently have over 10,000 listed items and several thousands of registered users.”
This online business conservatives estimated have projected their turn over at Ksh 30 Million in 2014. (Cool, huh?)
On market response and competition
The Kenyan online market is large and diverse and consequently there are other players out there with different business models that are working for them. To beat them, DukaLako’s focuses on the individual and small retailer within and outside Nairobi.
“Our ability to connect a buyer from Turkana with a spare part dealer in River Road Nairobi is what gives us that extra edge. So far our interactions with other market platforms have been cordial and supportive as we seek to learn from and support each other,” says Clement
He added that: “The market loves our platform and is evidenced by the signups we have been getting each day and the number of visits to our site. We are constantly getting feedback from the public on what they would like to see listed, and we have a team on the ground making sure those items get listed.”
Where DukaLako will be in two years
“We will be the market platform of choice in East Africa. In two years someone in Kampala will be able to transact with someone in Mombasa safely and with ease. Same goes for someone in Kigali transacting with someone in Juba,” says Clement
Founders’ Parting Shot
I love my business because I can see it changing lives. Traders are able to expand their business without increasing their physical presence which is very cost effective. Kenyans are now able to sell items that have been lying unused in their homes for decades. Musicians can sell their music at home and abroad with maximum control of the whole process.
Life as an entrepreneur is not easy mentally or on the family, otherwise everyone would be one. The rewards are also very good once your project has taken off. It is very exciting watching something grow from zero to something significant to the economy.
I love IT and I love the fact that what I do is helping the economy grow and also increasing efficiency and providing convenience to the masses.
I have always wanted to do something in Kenya/Africa and Dukalako has provided me that opportunity to make a difference. For me being away from family can be very challenging and I thank my family very much as they have always been a source of inspiration and support.
Having lived in the diaspora for several years I like the fact that Dukalako can now provide a platform for us to buy new and second hand items for our relatives and friends back home and the fact that Dukalako promises to deliver.
I would also like to encourage more and more people to try their hands on ICT as this is a growing sector and has enormous benefits especially for Africa.