Pick-Up Mtaani: solving Kenya’s e-commerce delivery challenge
An e-commerce logistics start-up in Kenya has been working to bring safe, secure and tech-driven delivery services to consumers using products from Safaricom, part of Vodafone Group.
Kenya has seen a huge rise in demand for internet shopping in recent years – even more so during the pandemic – with platforms like M-PESA making it easier for consumers to pay for products they buy online.
However, the high costs of delivery fees and limited options for sending products to customers are making e-commerce more difficult for businesses, particularly SMEs.
Ken Okiya and Robert Mwalugha, two entrepreneurs based in Nairobi, Kenya are helping businesses overcome this challenge by offering a simple, tech driven solution.
The two Kenyatta University graduates started Pick-Up Mtaani – an internet shopping delivery service – in May last year, following a surge in demand for e-commerce in Kenya at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pick-Up Mtaani – taken from Swahili to mean, ‘collect from your neighbourhood’ – helps online businesses deliver their products to customers safely and at an affordable price.
Pick-Up Mtaani uses M-PESA, Africa’s leading fintech platform, and Safaricom’s PayBill cash collection service to manage secure digital payments between e-commerce businesses, customers and neighbourhood shops acting as Pick-Up Mtaani local collection points.
Pick-Up Mtaani also relies on Safaricom’s 4G internet and mobile network to market their services and engage with their wide array of customers.
Speaking from Pick-Up Mtaani’s Nairobi headquarters, Ken Okiya says: “Technology has levelled the playing field for everyone here. Anyone can start an online business now. Social media and messaging apps have made it easier to promote products and communicate with customers. Mobile money platforms like M-PESA enable quick, safe and secure online transactions. However, most e-commerce businesses in Kenya are facing a similar problem. Delivering their products to customers is expensive and complicated.“
Ken and Robert know these challenges very well. In 2018, before Pick-Up Mtaani, the entrepreneurs used to crisscross the city of Nairobi on motorbikes, delivering packages door to door.
“We started Pick-Up Mtaani to help businesses overcome that challenge. By recruiting small shops and premises – grocery stores, salons, bookshops – as local Pick-Up Mtaani points for their neighbourhoods, we can offer a delivery option that is cheaper and more convenient for e-commerce sellers and their customers.”
How Pick-Up Mtaani works
Once a customer shops online, they ask if the seller delivers through Pick-Up Mtaani. If they do, the seller asks their preferred delivery location. The customer then pays a flat-rate delivery fee to Pick-Up Mtaani’s PayBill, via M-PESA on their mobile device. Following confirmation of payment, the business drops off the product at a local Pick-Up Mtaani point. The customer is notified by text message (SMS) and provided with a unique code which they can use to collect their order.
Ken says: “When customers order products online, they can ask for their order to be dropped off at a local collection point instead of being delivered to their homes directly. This has allowed us to reduce costs and help businesses combine multiple orders into a single drop-off.”
Ken, Robert and the Pick-Up Mtaani team have recruited more than 80 local collection points so far across Nairobi, as well as the coastal city of Mombasa and other towns across Kenya.
In the coming weeks, Pick-Up Mtaani will be launching an app which will allow for the live tracking of orders at each stage of the process. The business plans to expand its services to more areas of Kenya this year.
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