E-Commerce Platforms Help Build Digital Silk Road

 November 13, 2023
A staff member of Kilimall works at a warehouse in Mlolongo, Kenya, Nov. 10, 2023. [Xinhua/Li Yahui]


CHANGSHA, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) — Nairobi resident Susan Wangui has been shopping on Kilimall, a Kenya-based e-commerce platform operating between China and Africa, since 2018.

"I have never been disappointed with their products, and I have always loved their discounts," said Wangui, who recently made her third purchase on the site this month.

"It saves me time because I don't need to go to shopping centers in the city. It's convenient as everything is delivered to my doorstep. And the prices are fair compared to other platforms," she said.

In East Africa, many like Wangui believe that Kilimall has good-quality products, a vast selection, affordable prices and efficient service.

Founded in 2014 and based in Nairobi, Kilimall is representative of Silk Road e-commerce and has become the top-ranked e-commerce app in the region. It has successfully built a digital bridge between China and Africa, creating close to 10,000 local jobs.

Kilimall's name comes from Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, according to Yang Tao, its founder and CEO. "We wanted to create a localized company and a local brand, and hope to scale the heights of e-commerce in Africa," he said.

"Our biggest advantage is China's huge supply chain," said Xie Bin, Kilimall's co-founder and vice president, who told Xinhua that the team's original intention was to facilitate Chinese businesspeople in Africa and simultaneously give African people greater access to Chinese commodities at better prices.

Staff members of Kilimall pack commodities at a warehouse in Mlolongo, Kenya, Nov. 10, 2023. [Xinhua/Li Yahui]


In order to reduce costs and increase efficiency, the team explored what it calls an "African overseas warehouse" business model. Under this model, Chinese merchants send their products to warehouses in African countries before local consumers place their orders, enabling buyers to receive their purchases as quickly as possible.

Under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, and with the "Nine Projects" of China-Africa cooperation put forward at the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, Kilimall has received great support and grown rapidly.

Its next-day delivery rate has reached 82 percent, and its successful delivery rate has reached 98 percent. Kilimall delivery workers can now be seen from the Masai Mara National Reserve to the shores of Lake Victoria.

With major Chinese e-commerce companies currently busy with Double 11 shopping promotions, Kilimall is also working hard through the Black Friday promotional season.

Kilimall brand director Liao Zhengrong recently told Xinhua that goods totaling tens of millions of yuan in value, including home appliances and fashion products, have been included in these promotions.

While winning over African consumers with its speed and quality, Kilimall is also providing job opportunities for more and more locals.

From sales managers and couriers to local merchants and agents, Kilimall has created more than 5,000 new jobs in Kenya alone. At the same time, Kilimall is actively looking for local, quality partners.

Silas Musyoka, a Kenyan in his 20s and Kilimall's seller growth manager, joined the company five years ago. Today, he has a steady income and mentors friends who are thinking of starting their own businesses.

"Here, I have learnt a lot of advanced e-commerce knowledge and skills, and have become more familiar with the Kenyan market and supply chain, and better understand how to develop the e-commerce industry in Kenya," Musyoka said. He believes that China's successful e-commerce practice can help Kenya fill a void in its market.

A Chinese staff member and a Kenyan staff member of Kilimall work at an office in Mlolongo, Kenya, Nov. 10, 2023. [Photo by Li Yahui/Xinhua]


Other Chinese e-commerce giants like Alibaba and Pinduoduo have also launched cross-border platforms, such as Lazada and Temu, to help more Chinese goods "go global."

With the improvement of global digital economic infrastructure, more countries are able to enjoy the cross-border e-commerce dividends of the Belt and Road.

By the end of 2022, Kilimall had more than 10 million registered users, including more than 7.2 million active users, and its annual repurchase rate exceeded 50 percent. It now boasts more than 8,000 merchants and 12,000 stores, and has become a leading shopping software in East Africa in terms of downloads.

"We are not only doing business in Africa, but we are also allowing locals to really participate in the whole industrial e-commerce chain and effectively enjoy the dividends of the digital economy," Xie Bin said.


(Source: Xinhua)


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