OLX Kenya revamps app to capture fashion market

28 Feb 2017

While OLX sees strong demand for used cars, electronics and furniture on its platform in Kenya, it has not yet been able to attract used-fashion sellers and buyers.

According to an official statement, OLX Kenya had more than one million items listed for sale on its site in 2016, with electronics leading (330,000 items or 25.7 percent), vehicles second with 241,000 listings (18.7 percent), and about 149,000 mobile phones (11.6 percent) the top three categories. 

Consequently, it launched a geographically responsive and socially interactive app, to get a piece of the pre-owned accessories, shoes and clothes market, dominated by a young, urban population in search of trendy items at affordable prices.

These are typically items from British mass product labels, such as Topman and Next, and occasionally higher-end brands, such as United Colors of Benetton, or Levis.

Kenya’s National Bureau of Statistics reported that used fashion imports in 2015 were at about Sh11 billion ($110 million U.S.).

Total turnover of the used-fashion market annually can easily be up to three times higher than the import number. Apart from dozens of smaller markets spread across Kenya, Gikomba, the country’s largest second-hand market, employs an estimated 65,000 locals.

So, there is quite a lot of users for OLX to onboard.

Daan Sanders , head of OLX Middle East and Africa, said the new social feature of the app will be key to the success of the platform. It will enable communication between buyers and sellers, which is crucial to viewing and bargaining over second-hand items.

“Any user of the app has to log in with his Facebook, or Twitter accounts, which generates more details on his whereabouts and interactions. We are able to see his location and plans for one-on-one meetings,” said Sanders.

The new app easily identifies where the goods are sold, and informs both the buyer and seller of an item of a convenient meeting point.

“This helps enhance security, as their individual details will also present us with information of friends they interact with online,” he said.

Banks spotted the second-hand fashion item market as far back as 2007, and have opened several branches near Gikomba to serve local sellers.

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Adegoke Seun

Adegoke Seun has packed nine years experience in online journalism covering Business for EXCEED OMNI Media, AgroNigeria and Ventures Africa. He is a journalist, media entrepreneur and founder of enterprise54.com, a leading entrepreneurship news and magazine site focused on Africa. He is committed to reporting startup trends, funding, business development and lifestyle. Reputed as a small and medium enterprise industry enabler, he advocates entrepreneurship development on the continent and conducts industry research to bridge knowledge gap. He is our West Africa analyst covering major markets like Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana.