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How Sky.Garden is enabling & disrupting eCommerce in Kenya

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Sky.Garden is a SaaS mobile commerce platform built for retailers in Africa that allows retailers to sell inventory with ease on mobile. Sky.Garden aims to give back control to the individual retailer by allowing inventory control and immediate payment reconciliation in an automated platform, where local shipping and payment options come out-of-the-box. The e-commerce company recently raised KES 121 million to expand its African agenda. TechMoran spoke to Sky.Garden to learn more about their growth and expansion into Africa.

Briefly tell us about yourselves, your educational background, team and how you came together to form Sky Garden
My name is Isaac Hunja, 26 years of age. I have an educational background in Informations Systems Technology and Marketing from USIU & Daystar.
The Sky.Garden team which now stands at 19 strong, started with Martin Majlund (COO) & Christian Grubak (CEO) developing an idea they had with Daniel Maison (CEO, Africa) Isaac Hunja (CMO), and James Mwai (CTO). An idea that centered around putting eCommerce and digital access in the hands of the common Kenyan seller.
We have since grown rapidly both in metrics and headcount. Currently on the team is ESaaS-based leading the customer service front, Julliet Wanjiru & Geoffrey Ngugi leading the customer relations team, and Eric Mutisya leading the merchant engagement team.

How would you describe your company; how does it work?
Sky.Garden is a SaaS based eCommerce company that gives sellers a state of the art digital sales technology which they use to upload, manage and promote their inventory. Sky.Garden then handles shipping, customer service and payments in between to ensure safe, transparent fulfillment for both seller and buyer.

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What market gap did you spot that motivated you to start the company?
Many businesses in the country didn’t have access to an eCommerce tool that would allow them to both manage their inventory and promote their products to a willing customer base as well. With Sky.Garden sellers can upload as many products as they want, which each have a unique URL link which they can share to any of their Social Media platforms. Once a customer clicks on their link and places an order, we handle the deliver and payments on the merchant.

Secondly, the eCommerce conditions in the market currently require sellers to surrender their products to be housed in a warehouse in hopes of a sale. They lack the stock to do so, and even if they do have it, lack the visibility of how their products are handled.
We have tried to replicate the same conditions in the seller experiences with a ‘walk-in’ client that trades product for payment. Sellers on Sky.Garden do not relinquish any products until a sale has been confirmed. We then send a rider or driver to their specified pickup point and deliver it directly to the customer. This decentralized model has allowed us to do same day deliveries and payments to merchants across all product categories.

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How has uptake been like since you launched?
The uptake has been great on both ends of the spectrum. 3500+ sellers on the platform who aggressively promote their presence to their customer bases on their individual social media platforms. Some Facebook page audiences these sellers hold are upwards of 100,000 unique customers.

Who is your major competition? What do you do different to distinguish yourself from them?
Our biggest competition as we see it is sales informal social media pages such as Kilimani Mums and the likes where some sellers still prefer to advertise their products. However many sellers on Sky.Garden have realized that without the benefit of shipping, customer service and payments, selling on these channels is still very difficult.
With Sky.Garden wherever you promote your Sky.Link, you are assured that whoever purchases through it is going to receive world-class customer service, timely delivery and secure payment options.

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What are some of the biggest challenges you faced since the inception of the company?
The platform entirely bespoke and built from the bottom up by a fully Kenyan team, which has required lots and lots of hours research with sellers all across the country. This has been a challenging but rewarding endeavor because it’s meant that we have built the product entirely around the feedback we’ve received from the market.

What advice would you wish to share with aspiring African entrepreneurs?
The solutions we need for our African market have to be African ones. This is to say that if you have an idea, concept or solution before you develop, go out and speak to the people that are going to be benefiting from this solution. Not all the tools and practices from the West are perfect for our African story. Research, develop, prototype, reiterate and repeat!

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