Now the current talk in Kenya is Nakumatt. I do not know how it works in other African countries, but every week there is usually a hot topic that people over discuss. People could literally be discussing how billions were lost this week and then pick up on a completely different topic like how a man’s sexual organ got stuck in places it shouldn’t be sticking in the first place. See that’s how people end up voting for leaders who previously let them down. Or dating someone who clearly is bad for them, but I think for this one we need a separate post. It’s not always easy walking away from a man whose kiss is perfect but personality far from perfect – I am probably talking about myself at this point, I will not confirm nor deny any aforementioned ideas.
For context purposes, Nakumatt is Kenya’s retail giant. They legit started from the bottom by selling mattresses in one of Kenya’s big cities called Nakuru and that’s actually how their name came about (Nakuru + Mattress = Nakumatt). They have continued to open branches in 5 other African countries, folks from Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, South Sudan would know what I am talking about. Long-story short, the retail company has exhibited tremendous growth since its first store opened in 2008.
Nearly a decade later, Nakumatt’s current organisational struggles have been exposed to the public. Memes are everywhere, of which to be honest I do not appreciate because even though people are just joking, Nakumatt’s failure will somehow affect each one of us. We all rely on the economy to be able to take certain steps in our career and entrepreneurial endeavours. That same economy you rely on will be affected by Nakumatt’s failure, so before you laugh at that meme, keep in mind that you can not separate it’s indirect impact on your career or business.
I am not in a position to comment on Nakumatt’s challenges because I am not in the inside. I really do not know what is happening, only what has been shared on mainstream media which you can never know how much of that is true. Should you want to know what has been said on this topic, please feel free to go online and search for these articles. I genuinely do not want to recommend any because I want this blog to have accountability, where I can actually take responsibility for what has been published here. I can only share a press release from Nakumatt as an example because that is a factual statement from their end. I also want to stay respectful to the organisation, I am sure they do not appreciate the negative press all over especially when they did not get good press in the last 10 years.
I would like to share my thoughts on how Nakumatt could potentially use technology during this tough time. I have to say that I do not have experience as they have had in the last 10 years, so anything that I say today is in good faith and highly recognises that the Nakumatt team knows what they are doing. These are just my opinions and they do not seek to put anyone down, but to inspire ideas and constructive conversations. It’s my sincere hope that the Nakumatt team will appreciate my efforts or at least read this blog post from a positive perspective. This blog post should also not be linked to any organisation that I work for, this is just me sharing my thoughts with Kenyans before they move on to next week’s story.
i) Alibaba founder Jack Ma to visit Kenya and meet young entrepreneurs
Well for starters I am very excited about this. Kenya is on a roll to say the least. It all started with Mark Zuckerberg’s visit to Kenya, followed by the launch of the Nairobi-Mombasa Standard Gauge Railway, opening of Sub-Saharan’s largest mall (outside South Africa) to now Jack Ma’s visit to Kenya. There’s probably a lot more that happened on both small and large scale levels, it’s just great to see that the few items mentioned are already super exciting and looks promising for Kenya’s economy.
Jack Ma’s fortunes started to change when he was introduced to the internet. He was surprised to find that not much information about China could be accessed online, so he went ahead to create a simple website and later started a company dedicated to creating websites after people showed overwhelming interest. It is this path that led to the establishment of Alibaba in 1999. The China-based business-to-business marketplace site has attracted trillions worth of online transactions to date.
Jack Ma did not need to have physical branches to attract trillions of online transactions. Given that Nakumatt is closing some of its branches, they should definitely consider shifting the offline traffic lost to an online platform in which the same customers can continue benefiting from their services. At this stage they can not begin analysing why online transactions will not work, because the truth of the matter is, they will lose foot traffic in the branches they close. The best cost-effective way to ensure that they do not lose them forever is through the internet – which we have seen was the turnaround Jack Ma needed to be the successful entrepreneur he is today.
It is important to mention that Kenyans do not just buy from Nakumatt, they go to Nakumatt to have an experience. Nakumatt may not be in a position to maintain some of the branches it’s closing, they do however have an opportunity to maintain their brand position in consumers minds. Africans love Nakumatt, I am more than confident that if they proposed an online solution as they work towards re-opening their closed branches, customers will buy from their website as long as they continue providing the same value they have illustrated since 2008. Quite frankly the cost of setting up a sustainable site should not cost more than $5000 – which at this stage is peanuts for the retail giant.
ii) Kenya has the world’s 14th-fastest mobile internet speed
This kind of data confirms that Nakumatt should in fact take a digital step. I did make a point of visiting their site, which I came to find out is still under construction. It however seems to be an informative site, which to be honest may not help the company maintain or generate revenue. They are better off introducing an online retail platform which customers can use to access their services on mobile. The following are ideas on how they could brand themselves in public vehicles, vote for your favourite in the comment section below:
These are just examples of how Nakumatt could increase their value proposition by giving customers the option to shop while stuck on traffic. It’s not news the amount of traffic faced in Kenya, they might as well introduce a customer behaviour that can work in their favour during this tough time when they can not maintain their physical branches. It’s also really tiring for Africans who do not drive to carry their shopping in public vehicles, they could offer the opportunity to deliver their shopping enabling the organisation to maintain its huge clientele during this tough time.
These are just a few of the many reasons why Nakumatt should take a digital step. What did you think of the post? Kindly share your smart ideas in the comment section below. Until then, do you think Nakumatt should take an online shopping approach?