This guide will teach you how to start a successful dropshipping business in Kenya.
I will cover the complete step-by-step procedure, plus how to beat the competition and ultimately grow your dropshipping business.
But before that, let’s explore the basics.
What is Dropshipping, and how does it work in Kenya?
Dropshipping is an e-commerce model where a seller sets up a website and sell products he or she does not keep in stock.
When a customer places an order, the drop shipper sends the order to a third party – either a wholesaler, supplier, or another retailer – who ships the goods directly to the customer.
The customer pays you, and you pay the supplier after taking your profit.
The diagram below shows how the dropshipping business model works.
The critical thing to note in dropshipping is that the seller does not keep physical stock of the products.
Instead, a seller depends on suppliers to deliver the products to the customers.
As we shall see later in this article, owning a website, though important, it’s not a must.
While many think of dropshipping as a get-rich-quick scheme, it’s not.
And like any other business, it needs dedication and hard work to make your dropshipping business successful.
Pros and Cons of Dropshipping in Kenya
The following are the pros of starting a dropshipping business in Kenya:
- Low investment: it’s possible to launch a dropshipping business without having to invest thousands of shillings in buying the stock in advance. You only wait for the customer to make an order, then buy it.
- Flexible location: since you do not need a physical store to get started, you can work from anywhere. Your bedroom, dining table, or even from a tent in the woods! All you need is a good internet connection and a good relationship with both the customers and suppliers (more on this later)
- Diversity: you can sell as many different items as you want. Maybe, the only thing that may limit you is the time to list all of them on your site.
- Scalability: you can start small and grow big later on as your store starts to get traction.
Dropshipping is an excellent business to start in Kenya.
But it also has its shortcomings:
- Low-profit margins: You won’t make much money from dropshipping if you have only a few sales.
- High competition: you’ll face competition from other established drop shippers and retail stores.
- Reliance on suppliers: you have to rely on suppliers for nearly everything, from the products to shipping to item quality.
- Lack of quality control: you won’t have much say over the quality of the products delivered to your customers. Customers may not always know you are a dropshipper and blame you for missing or damaged products. It can be frustrating to be blamed for things not under your control!
I’m not discouraging you from starting a dropshipping business in Kenya. Knowing the disadvantages in advance will prepare you for what’s coming.
Let’s dive in.
How to Start a Dropshipping Business in Kenya
Follow these steps to start your first dropshipping business:
Choose a Niche
Unless you are starting a business of Amazon’s magnitude, you can’t wake up one day and start selling everything. You should choose a niche.
Well, even Amazon started in 1994 as a site for selling books only.
If you have difficulties in choosing a niche, these steps will help you:
1. Identify your passion.
Your passion should dictate the niche for your dropshipping business. The main advantage of following your passion is that you already know most things without even researching, for example, the price of items and the taste of customers.
2. Check whether the products are in demand.
It’s no use to start selling products that are not in demand. You can check the demand by researching what your competitors are currently selling. (More on this later)
3. Check the profitability of the niche.
I won’t lie to you – some niches are more profitable than others.
This brings us to the next step:
What are the most marketable dropshipping niches in Kenya?
The following are some of the ‘hot-cake’ dropshipping niches:
- Health and personal care
- Wardrobe and accessories
- Kitchen and grocery
- Home and bedroom
- Office products
- Tools and home improvement
- Camera and cellphone accessories
- Electronic gaming gear
- Car accessories
By now, you should have at least one niche in mind.
Research your competitors
Researching your competitors should come after picking a niche
At this stage, you should try to answer these questions:
- What type of products are they selling?
- What is the price range of their items?
- Are they running any Facebook or Google Ads?
- Where do they get their customers?
- Where do they source the products?
To answer these questions, follow this method:
- Visit their online shops and look at how they write product descriptions and prices.
- Visit their social media platforms.
- Do a Google search and see whether any of their products are ranking
- Read their company profiles. You can find this on the “About Us” page of their site
- Join their email list. You can spy on whether they offer special promotions to their customers
- Communicate directly to them. More often, some dropshippers will give tips on how to ‘survive’ in the business.
Choose Reliable Suppliers
Suppliers will be the backbone of your dropshipping business.
So, choosing suppliers is a process that may make or break your business.
How to Find Dropshipping Suppliers in Kenya
- Google search [product name] + “dropshipping suppliers in Kenya.”
- Ask other established dropshippers about reliable suppliers
- Attend Trade Shows where suppliers and manufacturers meet.
- Join Suppliers’ Facebook groups and Twitter Spaces
- Order products from a drop shipper and see who delivers the goods to you.
After doing the above, come up with a list of 10-15 suppliers, then vet them using the criteria below.
Criteria for choosing Suppliers
- Shipping: do they ship the items faster to customers?
- Customer Support: do they have helpful and experienced customer support staff?
- Technological advancements: do they have an inventory system with thorough product descriptions?
- “Per-order” fees: how much do they charge per order? Is it very high such that you won’t make much profit?
After choosing the suppliers, you are ready for the next step.
Tip: Choose like three to five suppliers. It will help you have a fallback plan if one supplier doesn’t meet your expectations later.
Draft a Business Plan
Like any other business, dropshipping needs a detailed Business Plan to succeed.
If you didn’t know, a business plan is a document that details a company’s objectives and how it plans to achieve its goals.
I know many people see writing a business plan as daunting and complicated.
But actually – writing a business plan is super easy and fun!
I recommend this article if you like to craft a business plan that works.
Choose a platform
Shopify and Woocommerce are the most popular platform I would recommend for your online store.
Shopify is a subscription-based eCommerce platform that helps businesses run online stores.
Woocommerce is a WordPress plugin that turns your existing website into an online store.
You’ll need a domain name to use these platforms.
A domain name is the address of your site. The domain name of this site is moha.co.ke.
For example, you may decide to name your store as nairobijewellers.com if you run a jewelry dropshipping business.
Usually, domain names cost between $10 to $20 per year.
If you prefer a reliable Kenyan Domain Registrar, I would recommend Truehost. You can check out their site to buy domains for as low as Kes. 599 per year.
Go to Truehost and get your domain.
After buying your domain, let’s get back to the two platforms.
Shopify is a ‘hosted’ platform. Hosted means it runs on its servers, and you don’t have to buy hosting or install any software.
To use Shopify, you need to create an account at www.shopify.com and purchase any of their plans:
- Basic Plan – $29 per month
- Shopify Plan – $79 per month
- Advanced Plan – $299 per month
On the other hand, Woocommerce is a free WordPress plugin. You only need a working WordPress site with the Woocommerce plugin installed.
You’ll need hosting for your online store once you choose Woocommerce. Hosting companies will store your files and data on their servers.
Truehost is the best company in Kenya for hosting your upcoming dropshipping website.
Go to Truehost and Get Web Hosting
Setup your store
After choosing your preferred platform, it’s time to build your store.
You can choose to build it yourself or hire a web designer to do it for you. That is – if you don’t have the time or the technical knowledge to do it.
For Shopify, you’ll choose one of their free or premium themes.
Then, install the Oberlo app and use it to add products to your Shopify store.
As for WooCommerce, you’ll install the Aliexpress plugin to help you add the product images and descriptions.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce have built-in features to set up payment gateways.
Tip: Designing beautiful online shops is a long process; hence, I cannot do it justice in this short guide. You can read the official documentation to help you with this.
At the beginning of the post, I said that you might not need a website to set up your store.
Well, you can use Whatsapp Business or Facebook Shop. But it is much easier to use Shopify or WooCommerce.
Follow up on Customers’ orders
Your store is all set. The first few customers have started to order products from your shop.
Follow up on orders, of course.
As we said earlier, Suppliers will deliver the products to the customers. And that’s why you should choose reliable suppliers, as explained in Step 3.
Most suppliers have order tracking systems and will give you a tracking number. You can use this number to know the status of any order, e.g., whether it has been packaged, in transit, or delivered.
Once the supplier has delivered a product, you can send a message to the customer and invite them to leave a review on your site.
It would help in building trust and get more customers later on.
Promote your business
Nobody will know about your new dropshipping business in its infancy stage.
You can use word of mouth to get people to know more about it.
But it is tiresome and won’t give you broader coverage.
You can promote your dropshipping business in Kenya in the following ways:
- Running Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram Ads. Here’s the complete guide for running Facebook Ads in Kenya.
- Running Google Ads.
- Create a Youtube Channel and upload videos of the products you sell.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I dropship on Jumia Kenya?
Yes, you can set up your online shop, then order products from Jumia on behalf of your customers.
2. How much do Dropshippers make in Kenya?
It depends on your niche and the types of products you sell. For example, a person who sells cars through dropshipping would make more than a person who sells children’s toys.
3. How much money do I need to start dropshipping in Kenya?
10k to 50k is suitable for a start. But it also depends on your chosen platform and whether you’ll cover shipping costs.
Hellen Keller, a US author, once said, “Ideas without action are worthless.”
I know you may have great dropshipping business ideas, but without taking action, it’s nothing.
It’s the time to get your business out there and succeed!
Let’s recap the steps of how to start a dropshipping business in Kenya:
- Choose a niche
- Research your competitors
- Choose reliable suppliers
- Draft a business plan
- Choose a platform
- Setup your store
- Follow up on customers’ orders
- Promote your business