By Basillioh Rukanga
July 25, 2013
Looking for best bargains on offer by various merchandisers? N-soko Deals, a product by the Nation Media Group, is the latest online platform in the market that offers customers convenience to achieve that.
The N-Soko portal hosts a platform where users can advertise for vehicles, property, jobs and tenders across East Africa. It has more than 1.5 million visitors monthly.
The latest addition, N-Soko Deals (http://deals.n-soko.com), targets price-conscious consumers looking for a bargain.
For a person living in Nairobi, for instance, it might be hard if not impossible to go round retail shops selling a commodity to compare prices.
However, online discount shopping websites make it possible to virtually scour through the shops to ‘window shop’ or buy products without moving from your desk. Such platforms often aggregate deals offered by various merchandisers in a single platform.
N-Soko Deals, which will also be available as a mobile app, allows the customer to get a range of products online at a discounted rate. For businesses, it provides an additional revenue stream as an advertising platform.
Other than the N-Soko Deals platform, there already exists websites offering deals such as the Kenyan rupu (rupu.co.ke), zetu deals (zetu.co.ke) and Jumia (Jumia.co.ke).
Rupu, which is a Kenyan outfit established three years ago, offers consumers discounts while leveraging on group buying, where a minimum number of people have to sign up for a deal.
Jumia is an international online store offering merchandise and it has stores in four African countries, including Kenya.
Rehema Juma, the digital products manager at NMG, explains that all merchandisers offering the products on the N-Soko Deals website must be vetted to ensure they are genuine and are selling original products. Electronic products must have a warranty as a precondition for listing.
A merchandiser must also have at least ten items of every product listed. If the business is online, the merchant must agree to ship the orders to customers.
Besides the vetting, the service is different in that “unlike other competitors where you have to wait up to a certain date before you can redeem your coupon, with N-Soko deals you can redeem you coupon immediately after making the reservation fee,” says Ms Juma.
There is a whole range of products offered on the site including clothing, travel and holiday deals, phones, tech products and accessories, art decor, car tyres and parts and gaming products.
Though the service is initially only available in Nairobi, the website allows a location-based search, meaning that consumers can find products that are listed in towns where they are based.
To reserve or buy products, customers need to register online with their mobile number. The reservation is effected only when a customer has paid at least a tenth of the discounted price, currently only through mobile phone payment system M-Pesa. A coupon, redeemable immediately, is then issued.
Alternatively, buyers can still reserve products by SMSing the word “deal” to 20777 after which they receive a coupon via SMS, with a unique code and shop details.
So far, N-soko Deals has signed more than 50 merchants offering various products and services, among them Kenya Airways Holidays, Strategic Mobile, Aziz Communications, By hand products, Exclusive Watches, Electronic Warehouse and Smart Word Technologies.
Data from the Communications Commission of Kenya shows that there are 16.2 million Internet users in Kenya, with mobile data (mobile phones, tablets) accounting for 99 per cent of users.
Online platforms allow users to list products, jobs and opportunities; connecting sellers and buyers virtually and in real time, unhampered by geographical boundaries.
Social media is also emerging as more than a place to link up with friends and colleagues, and tech savvy entrepreneurs use such networks to exploit business and professional opportunities.
NMG also uses its large following on Twitter and Facebook to connect traders while at the same time disseminating news and information. The Nation page has two million fans on Facebook and its Twitter handle has one million followers.
Nation’s premier news site attracts more than 120,000 readers’ comments every month on stories posted online, making it the most interactive news portal.