Last Updated on 7 April 2022 by Gertrude defines retail as the sale of goods to the public in small quantities for use or consumption rather than for resale.

An example of retail is local shops (duka), Naivas, salons, and shoe retailers.

Retailers don’t sell goods only but services like restaurants, hotels and bars are retailers too.

Popular retailers by industries are automotive, food and beverage, online retailers, vending machines and direct sale stores.

Retailing got affected during the pandemic but essential services like grocery and drug stores weren’t affected.

An important time of the year in retailing is the holiday season ( Black Friday, Easter, back to school, Christmas, school holidays).

How Does Retailing Work?

Retailers purchase goods from supplies and manufacturers.

They raise prices.

The price increase by retailers is called a markup or profit margin 

The profit margin is 100 per cent double the cost of labour, equipment and distribution.  

Retailers make more money if they purchase directly from the factory.

Retailers are also online stores like Amazon, eBay, and Netflix.

Many retailers focus on home delivery sales while others combine their distribution to maximise profits.

Online retailers buy because it’s easy to compare prices. 

Online retail is destroying mall business – change according to shopper’s preferences. 

Best Retail Businesses to Start From Home in Kenya

  1. Furniture 

How to Begin a Furniture Store in Kenya and Become a Success in 2 Years 

Make Over 1M+ Monthly From Your Backyard Upgrading Furniture in Kenya 

[Furniture Upcycle] 

2. Stationery 

3. Grocery 

How to Start a Green Grocer Business 

4. Food truck 

How to Start a 1M Dollar +  Food Truck Business in Kenya 

5. Subscription

How to Start a Profitable Subscription Box Side Hustle Business in Kenya 

6. E-commerce retail business 

How to Start a Billion-Dollar eCommerce Business in Kenya [Kenya’s Amazon From Home] 

7. Cosmetic store business 

 How to Build a Cosmetics Empire and Become a Billionaire in 5 Years From Home in Kenya 

8. Sewing and alteration 

How to Start a Sewing and Alterations Business as a Mum and Make 500K+/Month in Kenya

9. Newsstand – selling newspaper and magazines 

10. A pet store 

Do You Love Cats and Dogs? Start Selling Cat and Dog and other Pet Products for Profit in Kenya 

11. Personalised gift business 

How to Start a Personalised Gift Business Bringing in Over 1M Dollars a Year in Kenya From Home 

12. Antique business

13. Perfume 

How to Start a Perfume Business in Kenya All You Need to Know 

14. Bakery 

How a Bakery Side Hustle Makes 2M+ Shillings a Month in Kenya  

15. Mobile repair business 

Making Money Repairing Phones From Home in Kenya [Quitting a Job for a Mobile Repair Business] 

16. Kids store 

Start a Kid Store Business in Kenya and Employ 5+ People Within a Year in Kenya 

17. Selling baby shoes 

Babies Feet are Cute Start a Business Selling Babies Shoes Making Over 3 Million Shillings a Month in Kenya  

18. Coffee /tea 

Bring Joy and Profits With a Bubble Tea Business in Kenya 

Sell Hot Chocolate Bomb Business Brighten People’s Business and Make Money in Kenya 

19. Butcher 

A Butchery Business is Profitable If You Do The Following as the Owner in Kenya 

20. Plant nursery shop 

Plant Nurseries are Making Nature Lovers Millions of Shillings Online in Kenya Learn How 

21. Auto parts shop / start a spare parts business 

How Does a Spare Parts Business Become Profitable in Kenya Amidst Competition? 

22. Ice cream shop business 

Learn How to Become a Millionaire With an Ice Cream Business in Kenya 

23. Ladies’ garment shop (ready-made) with low investment 

Build a Ready-Made Ladies’ Garment Boutique With Low Investment in Kenya 

24. Retail pharmacy (how to open a restaurant, mistakes learnt running a restaurant) 

Are Pharmacies/Chemists Profitable This Year in Kenya? Learn How to Make Your Pharmacy Make Money 

25. Fruit store 

Fruits Make You Healthy and Strong: Start a Business Selling Fruits in Kenya in a Kibanda and Make Over 100k/Month

26. Flower shop 

Find Customers to Your Flower Shop Business Beyond Valentines Day in Kenya in 25 Steps 

27. Fashion accessories business 

Unbelievable Fashion Accessories to Sell in Your Boutique as a Kenya 

28. Kitchenware and home essentials 

 The Best Kitchenware and Home Essentials Products That are Profitable to Sell Online in Kenya 

29. Bags store 

What You Don’t Know About Starting a Luxury HandBag Designing Home Business From Home in Kenya But Need to

30. Organic food store 

Surprising Tips for Making Your Organic Food Store Business Make More Money Than HU in Kenya 

31. Pizza 

These Five Reasons Will Make You Salivate Over Starting a Profitable Pizza Business and Make Side Hustle Money in Kenya 

32. Toys store 

Revolutionary Ways to Get the Most Profit Out of Your Toy Store Business in Kenya 

33. An aquarium house 

Become The Top Travel Destination in Kenya By Starting a Million-Dollar Aquarium House in 2 Years 

34. Crockery store business 

35. Hydroponics store business 

Love Hydroponics? Help Kenya Farmers HaveVegetable Supply Year Round With a Hydroponics Store 

36. Fuel station

  Why You Have Never Heard of How a Fuel/Petrol Station Can Turn You Into a Billionaire in Kenya 

37. Tyre store 

(Ways You Can Triple Your Tyre Store Income in a Year in Kenya Super Amazing Ideas  

38. Fabric store 

5 Incredible Fabric Store Tips You Need to Know to Make Your Store a Raving Success Amongst Fashion Designers in Kenya 

39. Footwear store 

This is Why You Cannot Compete With China Knock-offs in Your Footwear Store in Kenya and What To Do 

40. Start a liquor shop business 

What You Don’t Know About Your Wines and Spirits Business in Kenya and How to Improve 

41. A used book store business (1M + side hustles) 

Can a Used Book Store Bring in Over a Million Shillings a Month in Kenya? We Explore How in Simple Language

42. Athleisure

You Will Never Become Kenya’s Nike With Your Athleisure Business Without Doing This 

43. IT hardware store (desktops, laptops, mouse, speakers, harddisks) 

44. Tours and travel 

Innovations in the Tourism Industry You Won’t Believe Exist and No One Does in Kenya 

You Need to Start Marketing to Local Tourists Instead of International in Your Tours Business in Kenya and Still Become a Success 

45. Tattoo parlour 

The Best Tattoo Artists Believe These are the Best Ways of Running a Successful Tattoo Parlour in Kenya

46. Sweets and snacks 

Who Else Wants 10 New Customers in Their Candy Business in Kenya? 

The Ultimate Guide to Building a Snacks Empire in Kenya With Less Than 100k 

47. Handmade business 

The Secret of Creating a Handmade/DIY Empire With Social Media From Home in Kenya 

Collectable sellers e.g coins, sports memorabilia then sell on platforms like eBay 

48. Lunch cart 

How to Make Over 50k Every Lunch Time With a Lunch Cart Business in Kenya 

49. Canned goods 

Here’s to How to Build a Canned Food Business While Working Full-time in Kenya 

50. Kibanda 

Give Me 10 Minutes and I Will Teach You How to Make Your Kibanda Business Bring in Over 500k/Month in Kenya 

51. Card shop/paper products 

How to Launch a Greeting Cards Business Like a Pro and Make Profit in Your First Week in Kenya 

52. Gift basket service 

How to Make Over a Million Shillings From a Single Gift Basket Business in Kenya 

53. Local gift shop 

54. Wedding shop 

Why Bad Marketing Strategies Kills Your Wedding Shop in Kenya: How Lack of Social Media Marketing Costs You Millions 

55. Craft supplies 

If You Read One Article About a Craft Supplies Business in Kenya, Read This One to Become Successful 

56. Workwear retailer e.g selling scrubs, construction wear and pikipiki/motorbike wear 

15 Facts About Being a Workwear Retailer Will Make You Profits in 6 Months and Make Competitors Afraid in Kenya 


56. Printshop 

Tools Everyone in the Print Shop Business in Kenya Should Use for Maximising Profits 

57. Vending machines 

These Advantages of a Vending Machine Business in Kenya Will Change Your View on Vending Machine 

58. Pop up shop 

59. Fitness centre 

This is Why You’re Losing Money in Your Gym Business in Kenya and How to Fix It Quickly 

60. Internet cafe 

Are Internet Cafes Profitable in Kenya? How to Make Your Stand Out From the Competition 

61. Photo studio 

62. Retail distribution 

63. Shoeshine 

64. Used car dealer 

65. Home furnishing = fabrics for couches, sell bedsheets, bed covers, curtains, pillows, cushions, mats, carpets

66. Laundry and dry cleaning 

67. Maternity clothing store 

68. Cloth diaper 

69. Farm machinery 

70. Fertiliser distribution 

71. Retail feed store 

72. Car wash 

73. Blouse shop 

74. Coaching centre 

75. Nail art centre/shop 

76. Deep-fried spicy chicken 

Biggest Food Trend in Kenya Making You Money Daily Hint: Something You Crave For Daily 

Starting a Retail Venture (What to Consider)

Choose a name 

For any type of retail business you choose, build your business around the name.

If you want to start a tattoo parlour, choose a name that matches or goes with the tattoo parlour.

If you choose a name like Naivas, which is a general retail store, ensure, you communicate your name to your customer.

In choosing a name, don’t restrict your business too much.

For example, saying, Jane’s Afro Comb means only people with afros are welcome.

Business names reflect your future ambitions, what are your future ambitions with your business?

What do you want to achieve, 5 years from now?.

This means, how do you see your business achieving in five years?

What will the achievement look like?

What services do you see yourself achieving in that period? 

Develop a brand 

When entrepreneurs hear the talk about brand, they shrivel.

Branding is more than a logo and having a sleek website.

A brand is establishing how to cater to your customers and how they should expect your delivery of services.

A brand is about having the message marketing message across your social media and marketing channels.

You get your brand story, the most powerful and important aspect of branding by developing your brand story.

What do you want to be remembered with?

What are you doing to ensure you get remembered as you want?

Retailers don’t care so much about building a brand but a business.

Yet a retail business maintains contact with customers throughout their lives in existence.

Do you want to know how to build a brand and not just a business? 

READ: How to Build a Brand and Not Just a Business in Kenya 

What’s a Brand and How Do I Develop a Memorable Brand in Kenya? 

Meet legal requirements 

Don’t start any business not just retail without meeting your legal requirements.

These legal requirements are licences, permits, insurances, business accounts and tax permits.

You don’t want to underreport your taxes then get caught during an audit or refuse to report your taxes.

Remember, kulipa ushuru ni kujitegemea.

Also, insurance helps you deal with eventualities like a fire or theft or debt in case of your sudden death in your business don’t be afraid to ask what insurance policy will be good for your business. 

Have a business plan 

Entrepreneurs especially small scale retailers tend to ignore the value and importance of a business plan.

A business plan isn’t a static document that you must stick with.

A business plan helps you solve a few startup problems like where do you get your customers, how do you market and what marketing strategies are the best or how do you analyse competitors or what your business structure looks like.

A business plan is a visual plan that helps you understand what you cannot complete in a sentence when talking about your business. 

Your business plan will change according to what you want to offer in future but it doesn’t mean you must not write one. Let your retail business plan have some of the components and they include: 

Marketing analysis of competition 

Marketing plan 

A description of customer experience 

A plan for future hiring 

Profit and loss plan 

 Consider costs 

You cannot start a business without knowing how much costs go into the operation of your business.

When starting a retail store, the startup costs may seem complicated but they don’t have to be.

The following are startup costs for retail stores to consider and they include: 

Retail location and deposits needed 

Updating and fixing of the store to make it appealing to customers so think of new painting, installation of shelves for displays, decors to use.

The decor, shelves and paint must match your marketing materials like brochures, website design and social media posts.

You want to have cohesiveness in your business that allows customers to remember who you are. 

Inventory costs – you have to know how much it will cost you to stock up your shelves. Do you have ready and reliable suppliers?

Are your suppliers within or without the country?

Are they communicative suppliers or do you have to travel to get them?

Your inventory gets affected by how your supplier responds to changes in demand for your products.

You want a supplier that expands with your business. 

Computer and phone services 

Domain and email services


Point of sale software 


Exterior and interior signage 

Trademark registration

Business registration 

Logo design 

Legal services 

General office expenses like liability insurance, cleaning, office accounting software and systems

Choose a location 

Did you know choosing a location for your business is the most tasking event you can do as a retailer?

The first question to ask is where are your customers?

How do your customers want services or products delivered to them?

What are your customers’ will to spend on getting your products and services?

You don’t get these numbers by guessing but by understanding your customer’s response to your location.

There are some businesses where customers don’t mind queueing for hours in order to get their products or services. The best example is Apple products.

Customers will wait in the queue from the am to the pm to get an iPhone.

You can also get your products delivered to you no matter the location you are in the world.

Don’t be Apple, listen to what customers tell you.

Some customers despite the increase in numbers with online shopping prefer to shop in-store others prefer online others love surprises inside subscription boxes.

Understanding how to choose a location for a retail store can get daunting, it doesn’t have to.

Read how to choose a profitable location for your retail store below.

Know that customers come to your premise for more than your location, customers will locate your business no matter the corner it is in for your products, customer excellence, branding and because they feel awesome owning your products.

Don’t focus so much on a location that you forget it’s about the customer and fulfilling their expectations first. 

READ MORE: How to Choose a Profitable and Winning Location for Your Small Business in Kenya

Retail loves multi-taskers 

Types of Jobs Available in Retail

The following are types of jobs available in retail and they are:


Sales associate 

Store manager 


Visual merchandiser 

Social media manager 

Customer service representative 

Team leaders and floor managers 

Advertising and marketing manager 

Clearing and maintenance 

Security guard 


Retail warehouse worker 

Loss prevention manager 

Logistics = everything job/multiple skill sets.

Roles include ensuring the store meets regulations and requirements and guiding the store to meet targeted sales. 

15 Highest Paying Retail Jobs

The following are the 15 highest paying retail jobs and they include:

Beauty consultant 

Pharmacy technician


Loss and prevention manager 

Cosmetics manager 

Purchasing manager 

Customer service supervisor 

Store manager 

General manager 

Retail franchise owner 

Regional manager 

Related Resources for Most Profitable Retail Business Ideas With Low Investment

Most Successful Small Town Business Ideas in Kenya 

Low-Cost Small Business Ideas in Kenya 

90 Fastest-Growing and Profitable Businesses in Kenya

FAQs for Most Profitable Retail Business Ideas

What business can I start in a small shop? 

The businesses to start in a small shop include:


Spicy chicken


Ice cream






What’s the most inexpensive business to start? 

The most inexpensive business to start includes:

Sales consultant





Cleaning Babysitting

Which shop can I open? 

You can open the following kinds of shops:


Nail art

Makeup studio

Mandazi, cookies and tea shop

Groceries shop

What’s something unique selling? 

The following are some unique things to sell and they include:


Jewellery art

Sewn items

Resin jewellery

Decorative dishes



Bath soap

90 fastest-growing businesses? 

The following are the fastest growing businesses in Kenya


Online nurseries


Translation services

Lawn care services

Digital artists

Starting a retail business in Kenya is the best way to employ yourself.

You don’t have to start a giant retail supermarket like Naivas to see huge and steady profits.

Start your retail business small while thinking big.

Which retail business are you interested in starting?




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Online Businesses / Online Work in Kenya