Developing The eCommerce Ecosystem – Part 2
This is a follow up to the previous piece on the above topic. Since the last publication, M-pesa has gone global and Kenya Airways started non-stop return flights between Nairobi and New York. What has that to do with the topic of discussion? A lot of opportunities for local marketers seeking a global reach. Before we proceed, there are two additional indicators – the country jumped 19 places (to 61 from 80 out of 190 markets around the world) in the world’s Bank ease of doing report. It also jumped to 3rd in Africa on share of FDI projects, according to EY Attractiveness program. These developments have a significant catalytic effect on trade, which in this case, eCommerce plays a key role. It is now possible to connect the east and the west, shift goods and using a payment process that is well understood in the local market. This is a key development for small and medium-sized enterprises, the locally assembled products. Anything produced within the region can now reach any part of the world in a shorter period. Logistics and payments solutions – which are key components of the eCommerce ecosystem.
However, the linkages and channel executions will continue to play a key role in delivering products and services. How is the local structure working out to meet the global market? In the first part of the previous article, we looked at some of the local challenges, such as logistics. For a long time, businesses had complained it was easier and faster to ship goods from China to the seaport of Mombasa, than from the port to inland areas of Kenya. Likewise, it took more time to take products to the port, but once it departs the port, it was all smooth to the destination.
Hence, the global outlook by key players with products such as Mpesa, the global flights as well as the government initiatives on reforms and attracting FDIs provide a global presence. Is this success spanning out in the local markets? Let us take a scenario of a local marketer, who places a product on an eCommerce site. He successfully secures a client from North America. He then goes on to provide a Mpesa payment solution and assures the package will be delivered by the next available Kenya Airways flight. Previously, any delays could be attributed to logistics, inter-connections …etc. Will the local structure play its part in meeting the new demands? Will marketers meet the commitments of the global market place? As the ecosystem overcomes the uncertainties in the overseas markets, are the local players gearing up to meet the emerging standards? These standards not only include the quality of products but also speed. Is the local market, the sources, the local inputs …etc. up to meet the new and emerging demands?
The matrices cited above, like any other, are only indicative of a situation. The reality could be different. Customers expect certainties, marketers manage the uncertainties. As markets in the region, and Africa in general push towards the global front, the dynamics may change but the principles are the same. The local nuances will always be present, but customer expectations and experiences will run across the world. The indicators are like invitations – they attract the ‘customers’. They are the start of the journey in the wider global market place. Once the fanfare dies down, the day-to-day work is what will count in developing sustainable market places.
Overall, aligning the local and the global market place is key in redefining the ecosystem in any sector. The previous perception of mainly imports can now be countered with exports harnessed from a local level. The fears of earlier years about payments and delay in getting to market will start to take a back seat. The local, regional and global market places are all getting consolidated. Therefore, the market dynamics will not only get challenging but also provide numerous opportunities than ever before.