Kenyan online retailer Sky.Garden has relaunched following a $1.63 million buyout by the Lipa Later Group.
The Lipa Later Group-backed investment in Sky.Garden has revamped its platform to introduce new features in it’s ecosystem and aspires to connect 100,000 merchants in the next year.
Before the buyout by Lipa Later Group, Sky.Garden had filed for insolvency in November after it failed it failed to raise extra capital in September, putting the jobs of its 46-member staff on the line.
Sky.Garden, Juliet Wanjiru, Head of E-commerce Sky.Garden commented, ‘Today marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Sky.Garden, as we embark on a transformative journey to enhance and broaden our offerings for both merchants and customer communities.’
On his part Lipa Later, Group CEO Eric Muli emphasized that this investment is set to have a twofold impact, empowering both businesses and customers. “Our group vision is to be a commerce catalyst for businesses and communities across Africa. We firmly believe that local ownership and operation are essential in understanding the needs of our people, contributing to the prosperity of our nation, and forging a true connection with our community”.
Sky.Garden said it has now become a full-fledged e-commerce ecosystem, far beyond the boundaries of conventional online retail. The new platform boasts of innovative products such as Sky.Tickets, Sky. Logistics, Sky. Commerce, and Sky.Wallet, the platform has also diversified its merchant categories to include a dynamic online marketplace for services and events.
Sky.Wallet will now offer tailored solutions, empowering merchants with access to financing, real-time transaction monitoring, direct bill payments (including utility bills and salaries), seamless deposits and withdrawals to Mpesa or Bank, and the ability to open a bank account. This ensures comprehensive financial support for businesses, powering all merchant transactions.
The ecommerce platform also announced their foray into social commerce. Sky.Commerce said it is set to revolutionize the online shopping experience by seamlessly integrating social interactions with e-commerce. This innovative platform will allow shoppers to discover, share, and purchase products directly within their social networks. Merchants on the other hand will be able to reduce their online interactions and make sales all the time from anywhere.
The relaunch coincides with the rapid expansion of e-commerce markets in Kenya and other African countries, driven by factors such as increased internet penetration and more affordable data costs.
Globally, social commerce is expected to grow three times as fast as traditional commerce to $1.2 trillion by 2025, up from $492 billion currently. Growth is predicted to be driven primarily by Gen Z and Millennial social media users, accounting for 62 per cent of global social commerce spend by 2025. Social commerce is poised to take a large chunk of the e-commerce market as consumers gravitate to shopping on social apps.
Growing internet access is expected to boost the African e-commerce market in the upcoming years. By 2030, the internet penetration in the region will reach an average of nearly 70 per cent, according to Euromonitor — a considerable jump from 45 per cent in 2023. Most of the access revolution is due to mobile connectivity with 83 per cent of the African population currently covered by a mobile broadband network, according to GSMA.