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You can now order your books online

I’ve just had a chat with a most interesting couple, and at the end of it my faith in the young people of this country was restored. Not only have they married across tribes, they have come up with a unique online shopping experience for books.
What make’s Enock and Rachel Essendi’s venture unique is the fact that it is completely localised in that you can use M-Pesa to buy the books.
What is more delivery is absolutely free. All you have to do is log on to Rachel’s Bargain Corner, and order your book online. Once you pay your money through M-Pesa, you will get an automatically generated code, which you will then enter and wait for the book to be delivered wherever you want.
“We have an edge over conventional bookstores in that a person anywhere in the country can go online order a book and get it delivered to them,” explains Rachel.
The couple are both 27 and they met in Egerton University, where Rachel was taking a degree in Biomedical Sciences, while Enock was doing Computer Science.
Enock says that his wife is more business-minded and she is the one who decided to establish the online bookshop. “With my technical know how in IT, I designed the website,” he says adding that they are partners in the venture.
Unlike other online shopping stores, which rely on credit cards for payment, Rachel’s Bargain Corner employs the popular M-Pesa mode of payment. “Very few Kenyans have access to credit cards, but M-Pesa is widely available,” says Rachel.
Already, a number of publishers have bought into their idea and are supplying them with books. Rachel first approached Kakai Karani, the general manager of Longman Kenya, who instantly liked the idea.
Rachel then took photos of the books, information on the books and uploaded them on their website. “In instances where publishers have soft copies of their books, they have given that to me,” explains Rachel.
This makes work easier for the publishers as they are now assured of reaching areas that are currently not served by bookshops. Publishers also get the added advantage of saving on costs of delivering the books. Of course publishers give them the discounts extended to booksellers.
Customers from outside Nairobi can have their books delivered through the post office, “The customer indicates the preferred mode of delivery on the website, when they are ordering, and it comes at no additional cost,” she adds.
Apart from Longman, Rachel’s Bargain Corner has also entered into an agreement with the University of Nairobi Press, WordAlive Publishers and Text Book Centre. Storymoja and Kwani? publishers are in the process of joining them. “We are in talks with more publishers to partner with us,” says Rachel.
Rachel’s Bargain Corner will come as a relief for parents who are sending their children back to schools. “We have seen parents waste many hours in long queues waiting to buy books from bookstores,” says Enock. “What we are telling these parents is; you can now attend to other businesses and leave us to deliver the books to you.”
Mr Karani is full of praises for the initiative. “The very fact that they are able to apply the M-Pesa mode of payment puts them head over shoulders over other online shopping entrepreneurs,” says Mr Karani.
“Apart from the fact that they are opening up the availability of books to thousands if not millions of people, they have also revolutionised the supply chain, in that readers can order books from the safety of their offices or homes,” adds Mr Karani.
There is also the added beauty of readers ordering through their phones.
Rachel’s Bargain Corner has been in operation for the last one month, and already the response from customers, mostly their friends, has been satisfactory.
The following areas in Nairobi are currently in their program of distribution: Nairobi CBD, Westlands, Ngong Road, Mombasa Road, Upper Hill, Community Area and Hurlingham.
And with fibre optic cable finally here with us, the future looks really bright for the young couple.
Enock and Rachel got married in July last year and they have a nine-month-old daughter Lakisha.

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