Kenyans have experienced a decline in their expenditure since the first case of COVID-19 case was reported in the country in March 2020.  Since then, the cost of living has risen gradually but steadily.

As a result, many people have been forced to make several tradeoffs which are likely to persist in the coming months, amid the inflation crisis which has left many wallets without breathing space.

A Nairobi-based consumer research firm Ajua Pulse says this has led some retailers to improve their customer experience. The biggest winning strategy is pricing, and consumers are experiencing a huge influx of players in the retail sector. “The cost should be fair and customer service on top, also they have cards to earn points and have special offers.”

Several surveys conducted revealed that nearly four out of five surveyed consumers in Kenya are shopping more online since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data, apparel, healthcare, banking, and other FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) have seen the highest surge of online activity. According to a recent Mastercard study on consumer spending an overwhelming 92 percent of consumers in Kenya said they paid for data top-ups online, 62 percent for clothing, and over 56 percent said they had bought computers and other equipment.

And, with fewer opportunities to browse in the mall or on the high street, social media has emerged as the main platform for finding the most attractive products and offers, with 78 percent and 56 percent of respondents saying they had discovered new sellers through Facebook and Instagram respectively. 80 percent of typical in-store bargain hunters said they spend hours searching different sites to find the best deals. When it comes to paying for goods or services online, speed is a key factor for shoppers in Kenya, with 84 percent quoting this as a major consideration when choosing a business to buy from.

It is clear from the research that shoppers are rapidly moving away from more traditional forms of retail and opting for contact-free and digital transactions. This, in turn, is presenting e-tailers and businesses in Kenya, and across the region, with new challenges on how to best leverage the shift towards online shopping and deliver fast, convenient, and secure transactions.

To benefit, a consumer needs to consider the quality of the product as the main driver for any purchasing traits. Ajua Pulse, says that the quantity and price of the products are also high determinants of the product a consumer buys.

The research firm adds that pricing is still a huge factor, as one consumer in its report states, “The relative price of the commodity from retailers, the after-sales services, the customer service, advertisement about it, and the availability of products.” Another consumer adds, “The cost should be fair and customer service on top. Also, shop at outlets where they have cards to earn points and have special offers.” The variety of goods also plays an important role when choosing where to shop.

And with the rapid rise of online shopping, as a consumer, you need to also become increasingly aware of the associated risks. And with a majority, about 77 percent of consumers now managing their banking needs online, according to the Mastercard report, 68 percent have said that a secure checkout is fundamental for a good shopping experience.