Kivuko.com: The Online Storefront for Local Tanzanian Businesses

Kivuko.com: The Online Storefront for Local Tanzanian Businesses

Amiri Mziray, co-founder of Kivuko.com — Tanzania’s online shopping gateway — said the idea for the company was formed when he received requests from local clients for goods from China.

“The problem was these people wanted a lot of products, and it was difficult for us to go all around China and get products for them,” Mziray said. “So we resorted to ordering the products online and then we delivered to them. Then we thought let’s do something similar like this in Tanzania. So we started Kivuko.com.”

Kivuko allows vendors to showcase and sell products directly to customers across Tanzania. Vendors include small businesses and shops offering products such as arts and crafts, gifts, books, home appliances, health and beauty products, babies’ needs, clothing, handbags, luggage, home entertainment, computers, mobile phones, and more.

“These vendors share one important trait,” Mziray said. “They wouldn’t otherwise have an online presence, because their shops are so small. Yet they want to sell to more people.”

That’s where Kivuko comes in, serving as a secondary online storefront. Vendors open up a Kivuko vendor account and list their products. When customers make online purchases, items are delivered and funds transferred — all online. Delivery options supported by Kivuko include DHL, EMS, and Kivuko’s own personal delivery system. Payment choices consist of those most available in Tanzania: Mpesa, Airtel Money, Tigopesa, COD, and bank transfers. Order verifications can be texted directly to a customer’s mobile phone.

Shopping on Kivuko is easy. Users register for free. Once they’ve logged into their account they can browse or search for products. When they find something they want to buy, they can add it to an online shopping cart. Kivuko uses a ‘single express checkout page,’ in order to give customers what it calls “a joyous shopping experience.” The first option offers billing details, where one can edit a billing address or change a shipping address. Next is order confirmation, where a payment method is chosen. Customers may also apply a coupon or gift certificate code, if they choose.

Mziray said his company makes money on the small commission it charges vendors, which is a five percent margin on sales.

“We also have in-site advertising for vendors that require advanced analytics on their customers, seeking more information on the types of products people are searching for, we charge them a small vendor fee,” he said.

The site also offers customers featured articles which helps them with purchases.  Articles cover subjects such as how to choose a flat panel TV, how to measure a ring size, or advice on purchasing a wedding dress.