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How to Start an Online Business in Kenya

How to set up your own online shop
How to set up your own online shop

Table of contents

Before you start the process of building your online shop, there are some foundation things you need to do. The first of which is registering your business, securing your domain name, and web hosting services. Without these, there’s no way to have a live online shop.

1. Register your business name

The registration of businesses in Kenya has been made easier and faster. One can now do a name search and even register their business fully online on eCitizen.

2. Choose a domain name

Choosing a domain name is similar to choosing a business name – it requires a lot of thought and consideration. Your domain name is your identity on the web; you want to make sure you choose a domain name that not only fits your business but is also easy to find and promote. A domain name that’s easy to type is critical to online success.
If your domain name is long and complex, you risk customers mistyping or misspelling it. Short and simple is the way to go.

3. Choose the right host for your website

Choosing a host is like searching for Mr. or Mrs. Right. Great hosting boils down to the 3 S’s: speed, support, and security. Hosting services are available in a wide range of prices ranging from a few shillings a month to thousands per year.
If done right, you will spend a lifetime of happiness with a reliable and high-performing host who is always available through phone, chat, or email to answer your burning late-night questions. However, rushing into a hosting relationship without doing your research could lead to feeling trapped, misled, or extorted. Choosing the wrong host often ends with headaches and a messy, expensive divorce — and you again alone, holding on to all the files you used to share.
A personal portfolio website doesn’t need a dedicated server, just like a high-traffic, a high-volume online store shouldn’t cut corners with the cheapest shared hosting plan. Shared Hosting is Great for Small to Medium Sites.

4. Setup payment getaways

The days of printing and faxing an order form, or mailing a check are long gone. You must have the ability to accept payments and process transactions directly on your website. This allows customers to act on an impulse and get immediate gratification.

We recommend M-Pesa stk push integration. This is because of four main reasons:

  1. M-pesa is the most popular non-cash payment method in Kenya. Meaning majority of Kenyans online are familiar and have a phone with a Safaricom line.
  2. M-pesa is reliable and secure means of payment.
  3. M-pesa has an advanced portal and mobile app to track and manage your shop transactions.
  4. M-Pesa stk push integration makes it easy for your clients to pay you. In MPESA STK API integration, the M-Pesa registered customer gets a pop-up notification to confirm the initiated transaction by your ecommerce website. The transaction is then processed after the customer keys in their MPESA PIN and confirms the transaction.

Both the customer and you the merchant get transaction confirmation messages.

5. Setup the website

The configuration of your online shop site depends of course on the nature of your business, your goals, and the kinds of products and services you plan to sell. In general, though, a full-service e-commerce website needs a set of core functions that make it easy for site managers to manage the store, and for visitors to find and buy what they’re looking for. To do that, your online shop should offer:

  1. Easy to manage product pages, with options for promoting featured products and special opportunities.
  2. Shopping cart and checkout pages that include essentials like currency converters and shipping calculators for physical goods or download links for digital products.
  3. Secure payment portal that protect buyers’ payment information.
  4. Full customization that reflects your online business brand.
  5. Contact features, such as contact forms, live chat, or a support number for handling customer issues and questions.
  6. Mobile responsiveness to reach the growing number of users who shop from tablets and smartphones.
    The best online shop set up for your business depends on your budget and the scope of your eCommerce venture.

We design and develop beautiful custom websites.

6. Create social media accounts for your business

Social media can be a great way for small business owners to connect with prospects and customers. Done right, it can make sales skyrocket. Some entrepreneurs have even built an entire business on a social media platform.
Start with your top three marketing objectives, then evaluate how social media may help you achieve them. Too often business owners buy into the idea that ‘I have to be there. I have to be in all these new places or I’ll be left behind.’ But social media has to help you reach your objectives or you’re just wasting time. Don’t think of social media as just a megaphone for your business, but think about how it can help you reach your goals.

7. Start marketing your services and products

a. Use search engine marketing and optimization

Search engine marketing and optimization are part of what helps make your business appear higher on a list of search engine results. With a strong SEO strategy, your company website will become associated with the keywords used to find your services. This increases your chances of being the company an individual chooses to work with after searching online. Use Email Marketing

b. Use email marketing

It isn’t enough to just send out emails. You will want to consider various email lists that cater to the specific needs of each individual and can present a personalized approach to your campaigns. Take a hard and clear look at the purchasing habits of your customers and use that information to develop your strategy.

c. Get into articles or news stories

Work with a public relations professional to get your business into articles and news stories on topics related to what you do. It will not only help establish you as a trusted expert, but it will introduce your business to an even broader base of people. You can also sign up for free services that connect you with writers looking for sources, such as Help a Reporter Out.

d. Maintain a blog

Your blog should be used for several reasons, including allowing you to consistently post new keywords and optimize your search engine strategy. More than that, your blog becomes somewhere you can offer advice, share bits of information, and connect with your customers. A lasting relationship begins with trust, and your blog is a great way to build that.

e. Affiliate and associate programs

With an affiliate program, people who believe in your company can share your information and grow your market on a commission-based platform. An affiliate or associate program doesn’t make sense for every business. However, if you use these, you can quickly see your marketing efforts improve without needing to do much yourself.

8. Conclusion

The internet changes so fast that one year online equals about five years in the real world. But the principles of how to start and grow a successful online business haven’t changed at all. If you’re just starting a small business online, stick to this sequence. If you’ve been online awhile, do a quick review and see if there’s a step you’re neglecting, or never got around to doing in the first place. You can’t go wrong with the basics.

Gachoki Studios will help you set up an online shop

We offer professional web design services at affordable rates. This helps your business attract more visitors and keep them! We build websites designed to turn your site visitors into customers. 82% of customers do online research before they contact you. Is your website doing enough to turn those researchers into buyers? We can help! We are passionate about making beautiful websites the help you attract and retain customers for your small business. Visit for more info. Or call 0735 840 870 now

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