Online retailer Sky.Garden has relaunched following a Kshs 250 million buyout by the Lipa Later Group early this month saving it from closure and eventual loss of investor money after the Kenyan ecommerce startup failed to raise follow-on funding.
With the acquisition and revamp, Sky.Garden is no longer just about e-commerce but is moving into social commerce and is building a merchant marketplace to connect 100,000 merchants in the next year. Globally, social commerce is expected to grow three times as fast as traditional commerce to $1.2 trillion by 2025, up from $492 billion currently. Growth is predicted to be driven primarily by Gen Z and Millennial social media users, accounting for 62% of global social commerce spend by 2025. Social commerce is poised to take a large chunk of the e-commerce market as consumers gravitate to shopping on social apps.
According to Juliet Wanjiru, Head of E-commerce Sky.Garden, ‘Today marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Sky.Garden, as we embark on a transformative journey to enhance and broaden our offerings for both merchants and customer communities.’
By Introducing innovative products such as Sky.Tickets, Sky. Logistics, Sky. Commerce, and Sky.Wallet, we are diversifying our merchant categories to include a dynamic online marketplace for services and events. Notably, Sky.Wallet will offer tailored solutions, empowering merchants with access to financing, real-time transaction monitoring, direct bill payments (including utility bills and salaries), seamless deposits and withdrawals to Mpesa or Bank, and the ability to open a bank account. This ensures comprehensive financial support for businesses, powering all merchant transactions.”
In 2021, Sky Garden secured a $4 million Series A investment led by The SANAD Fund for MSME including Aavishkaar, the Uncovered Fund, and other angel investors. At the time, the platform was serving more than 15,000 sellers and said it would use the fund to expand their operations to cities in East Africa and scale this to the rest of the Sub- Saharan region.
Dubbed as the the Sky.Garden ecosystem, the new platform encompasses not only the convenience of online shopping but also the infrastructure for local businesses to thrive. From seamless payment solutions to logistic support, marketing tools, and business insights. Entrepreneurs can build, grow, and expand their ventures within our ecosystem, while shoppers enjoy an unparalleled variety of products, services, and a shopping experience that continually evolves to meet their needs.
Sky.Logistics aims to offer same-day delivery for customers. Sky.Garden has also introduced Buy Now, Pay Later, powered by LipaLater as a convenient alternative payment option, providing flexibility and ease in transactions.
Its leap into social commerce with Sky.Commerce is expected to revolutionize the online shopping experience by seamlessly integrating social interactions with e-commerce. This innovative platform will allow shoppers to discover, share, and purchase products directly within their social networks. Merchants on the other hand will be able to reduce their online interactions and make sales all the time from anywhere.
The relaunch coincides with the rapid expansion of e-commerce markets in Kenya and other African countries, driven by factors such as increased internet penetration and more affordable data costs.
Growing internet access is expected to boost the African e-commerce market in the upcoming years. By 2030, the internet penetration in the region will reach an average of nearly 70%, according to Euromonitor — a considerable jump from 45% in 2023. Most of the access revolution is due to mobile connectivity with 83% of the African population currently covered by a mobile broadband network, according to GSMA.
“Our group vision is to be a commerce catalyst for businesses and communities across Africa. We firmly believe that local ownership and operation are essential in understanding the needs of our people, contributing to the prosperity of our nation, and forging a true connection with our community. This local insight has empowered us to bring the vast world of e-commerce closer to Kenyans while simultaneously creating opportunities for local entrepreneurs and merchants to thrive,” concluded Lipa Later, Group CEO Eric Muli.