Trader mints cash as online shopping, deliveries pick up

Thursday, March 26th, 2020 00:00 |
Malindi entrepreneur Winnie Njoki at her Top Wear Collection boutique in the coastal town. Photo/PD/Bonface Msangi

Murimi Mutiga @murimimutiga

As traders across the country worry over the future of their businesses in the wake of disruptions occasioned by the outbreak of Coronavirus, a boutique owner in Malindi area of Kilifi county is cashing in on e-commerce to remain afloat.

Winnie Njoki, the owner of “Top Wear Collection” does not have to wait for customers to come into his shop to buy clothes or shoes, instead she has put her business on social media.

Using “Top Wear Collection” Facebook account, Njoki is doing lucrative business online and earn handsomely. 

She says despite the partial lockdown which has hit Kilifi County after Deputy Governor Gideon Saburi tested positive for Covid-19, her business has remained afloat.

Through the online business, the entrepreneur has embraced the social distancing requirement to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Many employees

“Shoppers don’t need to come to the shop. I don’t need to have many employees in my shop. I have released some of them to stay home so that we minimise person- to-person contact,” she said. 

Malindi, a traditionally a tourist resort, is one of the towns worst hit by the effect of Covid-19 after the government cancelled all international flights from Italy.

The town also referred to as a small town in Italy is dominated by tourists from the European country.

With the fears of Covid-19 pandemic the number of clients getting into the shop to buy her collection has significantly dropped.

At any given time, Njoki is busy on her laptop either posting new arrivals or responding to inquiries from clients inside her business premise located along the Malindi-Mombasa highway.  

“For the last few days, I have been getting very few customers coming to physically shop for wear, but because I had already established my online presence, the number of client has surged,” she said. 

“I sell wears for men, ladies and children. I have been in this business for the last four years.

The online business is doing well right now, sometimes I make up to Sh20,000 per day. I have to keep on engaging the customer,” she said.

But how did Njoki start her online business? 

“Before opening my physical shop, I used to admire how other people were using Facebook and Instagram to reach customers, so I also decided to try and it is working wonders for me,” Njoki added. 

Her social media page displays different kinds of products, prices and contacts for potential customers to reach her. 

“I deliver clothes to my client as far as Nairobi, Eldoret, Kitui, Lamu and Mombasa.

When they send the money and size of the wear they have chosen. I send them using public transport so as to minimise on cost of transport,” she said.

“The online presence has helped me, I never thought there is day when movement of people would be restricted.

I am able to work from the comfort of my room even if no one walks in the shop to buy,” Njoki said.

 “I had to start small. Personally I have over 50,000 followers on my personal page so I invited all of them to like the Top Wear Collection page and they responded quite positively,” she added.

Njoki said one of the advantages of the online business in that she just requires a smart phone or a computer, internet and the products.

She, however, cautions that online business is very delicate as it can be destroyed easily if trust is lost.

“The moment they order I deliver to them because I am in Malindi and someone is maybe in Eldoret I don’t tell them that I will deliver the products on the same day but within 24 hours,’’ she said.

“My clients pay before delivery and I give the clients assurance that if they are not satisfied, they return the product and I refund the money,” Njoki said. In case of a lockdown due to the corona, the entrepreneur says she is prepared for the worst. 

Quality service

“Price does not matter in online business but quality service and product matters a lot. Customers look for high quality products regardless of the costs,” she added.

Some clients, she said, see the products online and decide to walk in to select on their own.

During his address to the nation in the wake of Covid 19, President Uhuru Kenyatta advised Kenyans to embrace digital business to prevent the spread of the virus.

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