retail in kenya

5 things you must get right to succeed in retail in Kenya

Retail in Kenya does look like the easiest business to start. But once in it, many find there are too many details to get right to become a huge success.

Problem is that most good business owners loathe details and prefer strategic thinking. It gives them the power to order subordinates to meet ‘that goal’ or ‘this objective’ that they have thought hard about. In fact, entrepreneurs who get stuck in day-to-day routine are considered to be in a rut.

Good thing, for you the entrepreneur, there are 5 guidelines applicable to all of retail in Kenya that will help you realize operational efficiency across board (now all you have to do is get the right employees to implement them):

1. Proximity

When thinking of location, of your retail business, you must also take into account the unique aspects of doing such a business in Kenya. Like opportunists selling stuff off their car boots to the foot traffic your business is generating. In Eastleigh, we have literally seen clashes about this. Beside that, you must consider other pointers such as whether your target market segment resides around or frequent your business location, can they easily access your premises? Is your environment of operation localized or are you a solitary retailer?

2. Pricing

Pricing is important for retail business because the sector has one of the lowest profit margins. It’s ‘technically’ the easiest business after all. There are many different pricing strategies you can adopt for retail in Kenya. We will show you the math one day. But ultimately it comes down to between two alternatives. Will you opt for premium pricing, like is popular among cosmetics, or will you go for economy pricing (like most retailers in Kenya) because you believe in products more than markets. Each comes with its own advantage and disadvantage. The most important thing is to suit your business plan objectives.

3. Supply

You know what’s great about retail business? Pretty much all people do every work day goes towards getting commodities to your premises. Unfortunately, Kenya still has problems with making this cheap for retailers. There’s still plenty of work to be done in infrastructure development, modernizing warehousing and achieving coordination and consistency between supplier and retailer. One Kenyan retailer has become an example to all in building good relations with suppliers, by paying them on delivery.

4. Efficiency

Some of the problems Kenyan encounter in supermarkets are congested aisles because some people have to man the shelves against pilferage (in the era of CCTV surveillance), low quality “in-house” products (whatever happened to specialization?) or the line you’re in being the only one not moving (performance metrics!).


If a retail business is not as efficient as it should be it will not make any money because of it’s small profit margins. You should always be looking to do these things and more; realizing economies of scale, optimizing floor plan, digitizing functions and bench-marking performance.

5. Markets

Retail in Kenya is still there for your taking, if you want. The fifth biggest retailer in Kenya has only 10 stores. The problems that the sector underwent recently allude to problems with proper planning. This can be solved by incorporating data collection and analytics to help in forecasting. You can edge your competition by knowing spending patterns, foot traffic vs actual counter transaction, etc. Information such as these will help you have optimal staff numbers and adequate stocking at all times.