Launched in May 2017 into the burgeoning Kenyan e-commerce market, Sky.Garden’s differentiator is the bottom-up design of its platform: It was built in consultation with the informal merchants who would become its e-commerce sellers. “We spoke to over 2,500 merchants before we even wrote a single line of code,” Daniel Maison, Co-Founder and CEO told us. Understanding these merchants’ informal offline behaviors, literacy levels, and pain points, allowed Sky.Garden to build a platform that “fits like a puzzle piece into their lives.” For example, it has taken advantage of caching, enabling their more than 3,000 sellers to access the vendor portal and upload product information and images outside of internet connectivity.
And Sky.Garden’s approach to designing training modules for its merchants has been no different. The in-app and online training content was co-created with merchants, to ensure that the right language was used and the design was intuitive for end users.
“We asked merchants, ‘Does this button placement make sense?’ ‘What should the language say?’ and ‘Where should we put the payments page?’ to ensure we set up a solution built by its intended audience,” shared Daniel.
Screenshot of the Sky.Garden Seller Center Portal
A Focus on Online Training
Through an online, website-accessed merchant education portal, sellers have access to training videos and online training content. Tutorials and what we call upskilling moments—online training that happens in the moment when users might not even realize they are receiving training—also play key roles. For example, the platform provides nudges and tips that advise merchants on how to take good product photos and remind them to input details such as color and sizes. Bite-sized training material is also available through the merchant app to which Sky.Garden will soon be adding video content thanks to a partnership with MercyCorps Youth Impact Labs.
Screenshot of a Payment Explainer Video on the Sky.Garden Seller Portal
Screenshot of a Tutorial on Sky.Garden’s Seller Center Portal
While Sky.Garden offers monthly in-house training to merchants—and understands the benefit of hands-on, interpersonal interactions—it simply isn’t scalable for the young platform’s small 25-person team. As a result they have focused on leveraging their core product, the platform itself, to deliver training. They also believe that an online training set up will be more easy to replicate when they expand to other markets.
Help Building Out Transferable Training Content
While Sky.Garden’s training content focuses on how merchants can make the most out of the e-commerce platform, they would like to expose them to more transferable skills that can be replicated and used on other online platforms. For example, Daniel cited training on money management, financial literacy, and digital marketing (such as how to run Facebook campaigns), all as areas of training in which Sky.Garden is keen to invest. While Sky.Garden has run successful Facebook campaigns in house, to build brand awareness and help with sales conversion, it is working towards delivering simplified social media marketing skills that will be driven by online merchants themselves. Content creation is also an area where they would like to build capacity.
“We would like to focus on developing more content that can further equip merchants” shared Daniel. “Being able to build out and modularize the training content would help us enable sellers to be better at their jobs.”