Selling products online in Kenya has become increasingly popular and profitable over the past few years. With internet penetration and e-commerce on the rise, there is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs and small businesses to tap into the online market.
Choosing the right products to sell online is key to having a successful e-commerce business.
The most profitable online products are usually driven by high demand, low competition, high margins, and ease of sourcing and shipping.
Here are some of the most lucrative products to consider selling online in the Kenyan market:
Top Product Categories
Some of the top broad categories of highly profitable products that do well online in Kenya include:
- Fashion and beauty products – This includes trendy clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry, cosmetics, hair and skincare products. International fast fashion brands are popular, as well as products from local designers. Organic beauty and cosmetics products also have demand.
- Electronics and accessories – Smartphones, laptops, tablets, headphones, phone cases, chargers, power banks, and other electronics and accessories sell very well online. Global brands like Apple have traction, along with affordable Chinese gadgets.
- Home and kitchen products – Kitchenware, small appliances, home décor items, furnishings, storage solutions are sought after. Products that save space and time are popular in urban households.
- Baby and child products – Products for babies, toddlers and children do well, such as diapers, wipes, clothes, toys, books, strollers. Kiambu has the highest demand as it has the largest population under 5 years old.
- Sports and fitness equipment – As more Kenyans become health conscious, sports apparel, gym equipment, fitness trackers and supplements have grown in demand. Yoga mats, resistance bands, whey protein and running shoes sell quickly.
- Books and stationery – There is consistent demand for books, both fiction and non-fiction genres. Stationery like pens, notebooks, office supplies is highly sought after, especially by students.
Some tips when selecting products in these categories include:
- Choose fast-moving products in Kenya that need frequent replenishment.
- Opt for lightweight and easy-to-ship items to keep fulfillment costs low.
- Source quality products to avoid returns and build customer trust.
- Offer value-for-money but affordable items catering to varied budgets.
- Include products different from competition to stand out.
Top Niche Products To Sell Online in Kenya
Beyond the broad categories, some niche products that have proven to be profitable online business ventures in the Kenyan market include:
Food and Beverages
- Coffee – Kenya is famous for its coffee. Specialty artisanal coffee blends and single-origin bean varieties are hugely popular online.
- Tea – High quality Kenyan tea also has loyal takers in gift hampers and monthly subscription boxes.
- Healthy snacks – Trail mixes, protein bars, gluten-free snacks for fitness enthusiasts sell quickly.
- Spices and seasonings – Organic spices, herbs, chili blends, and exotic seasoning mixes have demand from home cooks.
- Natural honey – Locally produced raw, unprocessed honey has a niche market for its purity.
Health and Wellness
- Natural skincare – Handmade soaps, essential oil blends, shea butter creams are popular for personal care.
- Supplements – Nutritional supplements, vitamin and mineral blends, traditional herbs and tinctures have takers.
- Fitness gear – Yoga equipment, foam rollers, resistance bands, ankle weights, and other fitness accessories sell well.
- Healthy groceries – Organic grains, gluten-free flours, non-dairy milk, and nut butters cater to special diets.
Arts and Crafts
- Paintings and portraits – Original art by Kenyan painters and digital prints do brisk sales.
- Jewelry – Locally handmade beaded jewelry, wood carvings, metal crafts have loyal buyers.
- Fabrics and textiles – Kangas, Kitenge fabrics, Maasai shukas, baskets and bags.
- Home decor – Wall hangings, pen holders, woven coasters, scented candles.
- Stationery – Handmade journals, greeting cards, planners, paper craft.
The key is to find niche handmade and artisanal products where you can make exclusive partnerships with local producers to differentiate from mass-produced goods.
Sourcing and Shipping of Products To Sell Online in Kenya
To maximize profits selling online in Kenya, sourcing products intelligently and optimizing shipping costs is crucial:
- Buy directly from manufacturers or producers if possible to get best wholesale rates.
- Find reliable suppliers who can deliver products consistently without quality issues or supply shortages.
- Partner with local producers for unique handmade products and support social enterprises.
- Use e-commerce wholesale marketplaces like Alibaba, DealNet, GlobalSources to access latest products.
- Attend trade shows and exhibitions to find new suppliers and stay updated on trends.
- Compare pricing across multiple suppliers for each product category to get best rates.
- Order small test samples first to check product quality before large orders.
- Build long-term relationships with suppliers for better margins and exclusive product ranges.
- Ensure transparency in supplier agreements with clear terms on pricing, minimum order quantity etc.
- Use a reliable shipping partner like DHL, Savostore, Sendy, or Posta Kenya for product delivery.
- Compare rates across couriers for optimal pricing on each product. Heavier items may need different carriers.
- Offer flat-rate shipping up to a weight threshold to simplify pricing.
- Set up collection points for customers to pick up orders to reduce last-mile delivery costs.
- For bulk orders, use consolidated shipping where items are warehoused locally before dispatch.
- Provide fast and reliable shipping – customers are willing to pay a premium for predictable delivery.
- Allow customers to select shipping options like express delivery or normal delivery during checkout.
- Offer free shipping selectively for high ticket purchases, repeat customers or promotions to boost conversions.
- Send shipping confirmation emails with tracking IDs so customers can track deliveries.
Marketing and Promotions
Marketing is essential for any e-commerce business to acquire and retain customers. Some effective strategies include:
- Run search and display ads on Google and Bing for product keywords relevant to your niche.
- Create social media content and ads showcasing your products on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok.
- Email product catalogs, newsletters and promotions to website subscribers.
- SEO optimize your website and blog with keywords, meta descriptions, alt tags.
- Create Youtube video reviews and tutorials showcasing how to use your products.
- Guest blog on industry websites relevant to your products to gain backlinks and credibility.
- Post reviews on industry forums and Facebook Groups related to your target customers.
- Partner with micro-influencers in your niche to push sponsored content on products.
- Offer first-purchase discounts for new website visitors to incentivize sign ups.
- Give free samples to testers and influencers to generate word-of-mouth.
- Run limited period sales coinciding with major shopping festivals and pay days.
- Provide free gift with purchase like tote bags, e-books etc to induce larger order value.
- Offer loyalty points to redeem on future purchases for repeat customers.
- Create referral programs for customers to share deals with friends.
- Hold giveaways and contests for followers on social media to engage customers.
- Distribute printed flyers and brochures at local markets, fairs, churches, malls.
- Run radio ads on stations popular with your target audience.
- Participate in expos and trade fairs related to your industry to showcase products.
Now that you have a list of the most profitable products to sell online in Kenya, the next step is to grow.
In that case, starting lean and scaling gradually is prudent for boosting profit margins on an e-commerce business in Kenya:
- Test with a small product range instead of 100s of SKUs to keep inventory costs down initially.
- Buy small quantities per product until you validate demand before largescale imports.
- Fulfill orders manually instead of investing in automation early on.
- Onboard few suppliers across your top product categories until you gain scale.
- Rent a small warehouse space just to store inventory as your expand instead of buying storage outright.
- Use basic accounting software like Wave or Excel instead of sophisticated ERPs early on.
- Hire virtual assistants as needed instead of full-time staff to keep labor costs variable.
- Use Shopify’s basic plan instead of expensive custom e-commerce platforms when starting out.
- Expand to more niche products once demand is proven for your initial SKUs.
- Work with more suppliers to diversify sourcing as order volumes increase.
- Move to larger warehouse as inventory needs grow but don’t oversize initially.
- Automate order processing with inventory management and shipping software as orders ramp up.
- Hire full-time staff for key roles like marketing, operations as the workloads increase.
- Upgrade e-commerce platform to higher Shopify plan or custom build as traffic expands.
- Invest in search and social ads more aggressively once you have revenues to reinvest.
- Acquire adjacent businesses to expand offerings once profitable.
- Choose in-demand products with low competition like fashion, electronics, homewares.
- Opt for niche products like art, food, supplements to differentiate.
- Source intelligently, locally and build supplier partnerships.
- Offer fast, affordable delivery by optimizing logistics.
- Market digitally through ads, SEO, email, social media.
- Use promotions, referrals, loyalty programs to boost conversions.
- Start small with minimum viable inventory and scale up gradually.