Masoko by Safaricom – Hit or Miss?

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Safaricom has officially launched its e-commerce portal, Masoko. The online platform Masoko (Swahili for ‘markets’) will leverage the mobile phone and will be an online platform where local merchants will be able to sell their products and services.

‘Hit or Miss’ is a catchphrase used in English to mean something is either effective or ineffective.

Before its launch, We knew Masoko would be a game-changer in a somewhat new industry in Kenya. Well, the platform is finally here, and I went straight ahead to explore it.

So you know, I have built e-commerce platforms before and have lots of familiarity with how they work. I have also shopped on e-commerce platforms both locally and internationally (I don’t mean to brag).

I browsed through the platform to establish the ‘hit and miss ‘concept in this context. Also, I used some information from a press release as a base to what is the real intent and business of Masoko.

The good always outweighs the bad in most scenarios-mostly movies. Here are those pointers;

Why Masoko is a Hit

  • We have a local online platform that will give us diversity when shopping online. Kenyans will have the option to choose where to buy based on their experiences online.
  • Users of the platform will be able to access plenty of items ranging from groceries to books to auto parts.
  • According to Joe Ogutu, the Director of Strategy at Safaricom, “Masoko hopes to unlock the untapped e-commerce market in Kenya by connecting consumers, merchants and vendors to each other using a powerful online portal.”
  • Masoko will accept all mobile money payments as well as Visa and MasterCard payments and will have dedicated delivery fulfilment partners such as Wells Fargo and Sendy to provide a seamless customer experience that is versatile, fast and secure.
  • Masoko will offer customers access to the very best in tech, fashion, latest trends and everyday essentials at the click of a button through either their mobile phones or computers.
  • A customer care team will also be available to manage any queries from customers, while a wide-ranging returns policy will ensure that all purchases meet the expectations of the customer.

Well, it is always about the customer.

Miss

As I mentioned earlier, some of us expected Masoko to change the way Kenyans shop online, and our expectations were so high that some of us might have been disappointed when the product got here.

I know they can be improved but here are just a few things Masoko might have missed and thus disappointed some of us.

  • The first thing I noticed, the platform is built on one of the popular e-commerce platforms, well they could have just bought a template on Themeforest and customise it to whatever they felt like. Why am I saying this? Well, it could have been faster and a better-looking platform.
  • The platform looks and feels like Safaricom, and the site closely resembles the style used on Safaricom websites. This is not a bad thing but, did they have to make it look like Safaricom? What will happen to shoppers who are not Safaricom customers? Did the name Safaricom have to be spelt on the SSL certificate, maybe it is to show trust, but for me, it didn’t cut it.
  • The homepage looks like e-commerce built-in 2005, and we are in 2017 for Pete’s sake. Moreover, the landing page might need a lot more organisation. Did Safaricom even carry out research and look at their competitors’ websites?
  • Navigation on the website is so disorganised if I want to shop by category, I just get lost. Once I click on the green button, I get some submenu items displaying instead of neat row laid down.
  • The URL structure and breadcrumbs are all mixed up – For instance, when I navigate to Computers, the URL reads Home and Garden. What is that, Safaricom?
  • The name Masoko means different Marketplaces, right? Well, the platform is intended to have many vendors on the platform selling many products. But on Masoko, there is no way to view all products under a single Vendor. The only vendor we have displayed is Safaricom, whom I can easily browse all of their products.
  • There are those types of products where Product attributes are a must; these include clothes, shoes etc. But on Masoko, there are sizes, but how will someone know their right size?
  • There are some products with only one photo, and the description of these products is just a turn-off. Was this job done in a hurry? I won’t go through the checkout process because I believe Safaricom did their job well and launched a product that is complete. But the registration page needs some thinking to make the process of shopping more comfortable and quicker.

My final thoughts and Comments on Masoko

I expected something that will leave me in awe and trigger that consumer stimuli to buy a product on the first day. However, Safaricom, with their unmatched history, failed to meet the expectations of people like me.

This time around, they failed terribly. I don’t mean to be spiteful, but a startup somewhere in Umoja could have produced a better e-commerce platform than what Safaricom has unveiled.

For starters, Safaricom failed to get it right with this platform name –Masoko. It just doesn’t bring that catchy outlook that comes calling every time you see or hear it.

Secondly, having the name Safaricom associated with a substandard platform is a self-tackle.

Please if there is anyone at Safaricom reading these comments, please remove the name Safaricom on that platform. The user experience on Masoko cannot match the level of its competitors.

Maybe with time, Safaricom will improve the platform with time. I think it rushed to launch the product before testing and debugging the platform.

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