By Isaac Blessings
After the unfortunate collapse of retail giant – Tuskys, hundreds of people who depended on the supermarket for their livelihoods were rendered jobless. From the top executive of the firm to the low cadre employees, everyone was affected and had to come up with new ways to make a living.
Former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tuskys Supermarket Dan Githua dusted himself from the loss of his high paying job to co-found AnkoRetail-an e-commerce start up. Here is his story as told by WoK.
After the closure of Tuskys Supermarket, Dan Githua came out with one precious thing – experience. He had gained a lot of insights and knowledge concerning the buying habits of Kenyans. He had an idea of setting up an online retail shop and in 2021, together with a few of his friends, most of them living abroad, launched AnkoRetail. The e-commerce platform sells a wide variety of products ranging from kitchen ware, bathroom accessories, foodstuffs, electronics, home appliances, glassware, carpets and mats, personal and home care products, furniture and cleaning equipment among many others. Payments are made via Mpesa till number and deliveries services are within Nairobi. They have a 24 hour customer support call line. The company also has a YouTube channel where they showcase some of their available products.
The inspiration behind Anko Retail
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, movements in the country were restricted. The uncertainty that followed led most people to avoid crowded places fearing to contract the virus. Githua saw an opportunity and decided to build a reliable e-commerce platform where people could search for their desired products, pay and order for them then get them delivered to their doorsteps within minutes. Kenyans have also begun embracing online shopping and with delivery riders being easily available, the group saw it wise to join the e-commerce space.
Challenges in the online business and overcoming them
During an exclusive interview with howwemadeitinafrica.com, Githua explained that online business just like any business has its own fair share of challenges. The first major challenge they encountered was trust issues.
“There was a time when Kenyans would receive a different item from what they ordered and this killed trust in the online business. So in order to gain the customers’ trust we had to come up with a unique and different strategy. For the first six weeks, we allowed people to pay on delivery. The response was overwhelming; many potential shoppers who would not have shopped unless they got that option were encouraged to come on board,” Githua who is the company’s Chief Strategist revealed during the interview.
The second challenge the company faced was how to relate and work with different suppliers. This is because different e-commerce platforms have different trading systems and suppliers might not understand that thus becoming a bit of a challenge.
“The main issue with larger vendors is that they have become accustomed to how other e-commerce platforms work. They are sometimes surprised at how our business operates. For example, we don’t sell anything we don’t have in our warehouse, so the goods must be in our warehouse and we pay them in advance. In doing so, we give them an incentive to want to supply more goods,” explained Githua.
Leadership and Management of Anko Retail
Anko Retail currently employs 19 direct employees who are in the company’s monthly payroll. The leadership of the company comprises of Rudy Darmawan who acts the company’s Vice President of Supply Chain and Technology, Daniel Githua who is the Chief Strategist, Andy Chen as the Director of Stores, Dennis Richardson as the Fulfillment Director and Carla Kidder who acts as the Human Resource Generalist.
Anko Retail future plans
Currently the company has agreed with some businesses who have physical shops to act as pick up points for products ordered by Anko Retail clients. These shops will be in Nairobi, Nakuru, Mombasa, Thika, Naivasha and Eldoret. The company seeks to cover all major towns in Kenya and to at least have around 300,000 active customers within their first year of operation.