Last Updated on 29 June 2021 by Gertrude
Opening a greengrocer is a lucrative business in the wake of covid-19 where people want to eat healthy and affordable meals.
To make good money with your greengrocer, concentrate on farm-fresh produce or farm to table greens.
You have to think of the competition of running a greengrocer coming from mama mboga kiosks and supermarkets.
To stand out as a greengrocer brand, take a walk around the neighbourhood asking yourself and customers, what greens sell the most and why customers love those greens.
And how can you stand out from the competition? What makes your greengrocer special because saying you sell farm-fresh alone doesn’t cut it for your customers.
You have to focus on healthy greens not found anywhere but your store’s shelves to attract your customers.
In other words, you are growing to store speciality greens like mushrooms, microgreens, or exotic herbs not found in Kenya like basil, mint, bay leaves.
Also, target an underserved niche with your greengrocer, for example, ethnic food. For example, do you live in an area where a particular group of people grows a type of green not found anywhere in Kenya?
If you’re a Nakuru resident, you have the South Sudanese people. The South Sudanese people love eating traditional greens like ‘kunde, mrenda, ”osuga (this one is so bitter and loved by the Luos).
When and if you know your market and what you want to sell in your greengrocer, you will succeed. Plus, your market keeps making suggestions to help you improve your produce and range of products in your greengrocer.
You cannot avoid market research when you want to run a greengrocer because if your intention is to sell sukumawiki like every other kibanda, you are not going to stand out and your competition is fierce.
Every kibanda, kiosk sells sukumawiki, spinach and some traditional greens. Make your market research and uncomplicated by taking walks around neighbourhoods, pose as a customer.
Get to know your would-be customers. Put your nose on the ground when doing market research. This means, keep up to date to ensure no news passes you.
What Does Grocery Mean?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary Online, ‘a grocery is food that you buy in a grocer’s store or a supermarket‘.
The same dictionary defines, ‘US grocery as a store that sells food and small things for the home’.
I include the definitions (US and UK) because grocery becomes confusing for some people including me.
When an American goes grocery shopping, you see toilet papers, paper towels/kitchen/hand towels, serviettes in the cart.
For the Brits, it’s about food shopping. With the definition cleared, let’s jump into it.
Kenyans have traditions rooted in the British culture with American trends, haha.
How to Set Up a Successful GreenGrocer in Kenya: Everything You Need to Know
Before you operate a greengrocer, there are important things to keep in mind including the following:
1. Address the Legalities
You are going to handle food so it’s crucial for you to obtain the food handler’s licence to help certify that your food is hygiene.
Don’t begin selling any food items in Kenya without finding out what you need in terms of licences and licensing.
You will also need the Single Business Permit cert.
2. Conduct a Market Research
What’s a market research and why do business owners fret when they hear this?
Market research is about finding out about your target audience. Who do you want to sell for and are they ready to buy what you sell?
For example, before starting or naming this blog in 2012, I asked myself, who is my target audience?
I knew it would be youths between the ages of 20 – 35 and from all over Kenya.
The youths with an internet connection.
I wanted to create something not newsworthy because, at the time, there were countable blogs with little information about work online.
So, ask yourself, is your customer ready for the product you want to sell? My customer wasn’t and it took a lot of education for me before I saw traction. But I wasn’t consistent.
So, understand what your market wants and you won’t get disappointed.
You will spend time educating your customers on the importance of other greens like microgreens and how to cook or use them.
Sometimes, the customer doesn’t know what they want, you are the one to provide the education.
Market research doesn’t have to get complicated or expensive.
Tips for Simple Uncomplicated Market Research
a). Make it simple
A walk around your neighbourhood or the area you want to set up the greengrocer will educate you about the buying needs of your customer.
Ask one or two questions from your favourite green grocery store.
Kenyan business owners don’t want to share information about their business success because of ‘theft of idea’.
Don’t be a thief. Set something that stands out from your competition.
b). Use Facebook or Whatsapp group
Hang out in Facebook or Whatsapp groups, where most Kenyans hang out. Ask questions about the vegetables they like to consume and what they’d love to see on the shelves.
Go ahead and ask about the price points they prefer and why.
Sit down and ask, how am I going to provide what my customers want?. I love how engaging Facebook groups are.
I have no experience with Whatsapp groups. Be an active participant in groups that Kenyans sell and buy.
See the trends, write everything you learn down. The more you participate in the FB groups discussions, the more you get noticed and the more you greengrocer will take off. People want to try new services and products all the time.
c). It takes time to learn your market
Be patient with what the market wants. Before beginning the pillow business, I knew women love handbags and I love designing bags.
I designed a pillow which I displayed in the most provoking way. At the front of the shop, I styled a dining chair with my pillow.
That pillow brought me business more than the bags. What happened? The customers told me what they wanted.
Listen and change according to your customers. Don’t use your feelings.
My loyal subscribers on YouTube and readers on this blog keep asking me to post these kinds of business ideas (offline business ideas). It’s taken almost two years to heed their requests.
I was scared that I may interfere with the flow of my blog but, no. A greengrocer can become a home-based business and this channel is about home-based businesses and online work.
The change your customers propose may sometimes seem slow and confusing, but effecting changes shows you listen.
When customers propose change, ask your team how does it fit in our current niche? Or best yet, ask the customers how they want the new change effected.
I was always afraid of what the customers said because I thought I knew it all. For example, one of my long-time pillow customers, she bought on wholesale said to me, ‘‘Why don’t you display these gorgeous cross-body bags like you did the pillow?. I have never seen such beautifully-made bags”.
Yes, entrepreneurs are cocky and we want to stand out. After a lengthy invention, customers may request for more or less, ask yourself, are you going to keep up or wear out?
Keep inventing and innovating that keeps the customer’s interest as realised by Amazon, Apple, Nike, Dell.
Don’t get stuck in what customers like, they may look elsewhere for innovative and emerging products.
3. Find a Location
You cannot ignore that the potential and success of your greengrocer depends on the location. If you choose a poor location, customers will find it hard to find you or identify with your brand. A business’ location depends on the following:
You have to ask who is your market; your ideal customer
Do your customers know of your existence in the chosen area?
Who is your competition?
What’s your business model? Will you deliver to your customers no matter their locations? Delivery is dependent on the business model you choose.
TIP for Finding a Perfect Green Grocer Store Location: Find a store near a shopping centre, restaurant, bakery, candy store, book store or coffee shop.
4. Acquire the Necessary Equipment
The equipment needed to make your store run smoothly include:
Packaging or packing items
Surveillance equipment like security alarms, cameras, door askaris
Bar codes and barcode readers
READ MORE: Equipment Necessary for the Running of Your Green Grocer in Kenya and How to Get Them Affordably
5. Choose Suppliers
Running a greengrocer means having the headache of acquiring or getting suppliers.
If you want a smooth-running business, you have to get reliable suppliers. Suppliers with excuses or lateness derail or make customers run from your business.
Tips for Choosing a Reliable Green Grocer Supplier
A). Ensure he or she has a farm and you visit the farm regularly to not only negotiate the prices but to confirm everything is in order. If you have the capital, you can invest in the farm to increase production.
B). Find a local supplier before branching countrywide or outside the country
It’s all good when you get foreign suppliers because you get exotic goods but some suppliers are not reliable. Start with the local (within your area) suppliers before searching or sourcing for suppliers from outside your county.
C). Invest in a farm
Become your own supplier to maximise the profits from running your greengrocer. This is killing two birds with one stone; earning from your farm and in your greengrocer.
READ MORE: How to Get a Reliable Supplier for Your Green Grocer in Kenya
6. Advertise Your Business
I take advertising from the heart. Before I started posting my business online on YouTube or Pinterest or using this blog, I felt like advertising was unnecessary.
”I will create and make them come”. This was my mantra. No. Advertising brings customers. Advertising means, ‘creating awareness for your customers’.
Customers buy from a brand they recognise; a brand with value, quality and timely delivery. Customers fear business owners they don’t know.
Have you ever asked yourself why Apple products have fanatics that queue in wait for the latest release?
Also, have you asked why Hermes has fanatics waiting for years to get a Birkin bag despite others posting reaction videos of poor Hermes customer service?
To run your greengrocer store like Hermes, Apple, Nike, Dell, focus on the displays and packaging of your greens.
Use displays never seen in another greengrocer, for example, potted clays to put your greens.
Ever heard of ‘’kula kwa macho’’?. This kula kwa macho ideology is real for any business.
If I walk to a store that shows me with their beautiful clay pots on sight how to preserve my greens like coriander or parsley, which wilt after purchase, for use tomorrow in another way other than the fridge, I will buy into that. And I will purchase from that store over and over.
Use creative product offering this means, complement your greengrocers with products that go hand in hand like fresh ‘’green’’ coffees, doughnuts, freshly prepared foods, teach classes how to prepare mushrooms.
People want to buy some foods because of the hype about healthy foods/superfoods, but they don’t know how to prepare or incorporate these superfoods/healthy foods in the meals; mushrooms are a good example.
Show your customers (those with ovens and not, enthusiastic bakers or not) how to prepare steak, bread, cakes, popcorns, hamburgers, prepare freshly scooped ice creams (that experience always feels unique for icecream lovers).
Showing your customers how to prepare goods they buy from your store, is an experience they won’t forget. You want to make your greengrocer an unforgettable experience.
Use a good old newspaper for advertising your greengrocer.
Create coupons for your customers that they can redeem in their next shopping.
Focus on your packaging. What does your package say to your customers? You want to remind customers of your brand.
Have you bought any groceries from Naivas, Carrefour or Nakumatt?
They have bags with their names written on them. Why? You want customers to remember your existence.
Make the branded bags ‘naughty‘ by adding your phone calls, social media pages and a request for delivery.
Go beyond what the big stores do for their customers.
Packaging isn’t like the newspaper the President ridiculed a few years ago as ‘meat wrappers’, it’s about reminding your customers of you and your business and what they might miss if they don’t choose you.
READ MORE: Out of the World Cost-Effective Ways to Advertise Your Green Grocer in Kenya (Get Raving Customers Immediately)
7. Find an Under-used Niche for Your Green Grocer
I keep saying the business market in Kenya is under-used; there are many business ideas to explore and this will remain so until further notice (as long as Kenya exists). The under-used greengrocer niches include:
Fresh produce – green well-displayed products attract attention all the time. Make your store attractive with colour by adding carrots, red, yellow, orange produce.
Ethnic foods, for example, mrenda, Kuku wa kienyeji, roasted goat head soup, chicken tripe choma (I can imagine how people would be apprehensive at first but become addicted to your store). We lost touch with our backgrounds.
Organic foods market – meaning foods grown without commercial or artificial fertilisers. The organic market is good for new mothers feeding their kids or experimenting with foods for the toddlers and the older generation that want to live longer by eating non-chemical foods. Organic markets are also for the food-conscious people that want to know what they take or for those that like the idea of a garden but don’t have green thumbs or time to create a garden.
Healthy premade foods
8. Have a Business Plan
You’re not going anywhere without a business plan. A business plan is a plan of action, not a fixed decorative piece.
You can tweak your business plan as your business grows. Always use your business plan to advance your business.
You write a business plan for the purpose of offering you guidance. Without a guide, you won’t have direction and without direction, you fail.
READ MORE: How to Write a Lean GreenGrocer Plan in Kenya
9. How Much Does It Cost to Run a Green Grocer?
The cost of running and operating a greengrocer is dependent on many factors and what you want to set up.
The cost of your business adds up or subtracts depending on the following factors:
Are you renting or buying the place you want to do your business?
Taxes for sales and employees payrolls
Equipment you acquire instead of hiring, for example, forklifts, hand trucks to make offloading and loading easier
Shelving and the displays you acquire – you can DIY your shelving
The cost of products you sell
Some of the costs recur per month (expenses) while some are a one-time purchase.
A one-time purchase like forklifts and hand trucks may need regular maintenance. Some tools like carts, cash registers are a must.
10. How Much Can You Earn With a Green Grocer
The amount you can make running your greengrocer depends on a number of factors, including:
A. Your location
If your aim is to sell what mama mboga doesn’t sell, have you researched to know the location is ideal? For example, in estates, you can set up a mama mboga operation selling the same old, sukumawiki, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage.
If you want to stand out from the usual mama mboga and make good money, you have to determine other kinds of greens not found within the estate like microgreens.
Also, no matter your greengrocer location, introduce as many greens as possible then your customers will determine what they what the most. Customers are often the best answer.
The location shouldn’t discourage you though, people eat daily. Introduce seasonal fruits and veggies in the market; those make good money and attract new customers to your store.
TIP: If you make your product available all year round, you beat your competition (those located in the best locations).
B. Who is your competition?
You are not going to make good money if you don’t know your competition and what they do and don’t do.
You may say because you sell exotic greens you don’t have big competition, that you identified your niche. You got it wrong.
Competition is alive and kicking everywhere in the business world.
For example, the mama mbogas, the supermarkets, people not knowing about your brand, your lack of good customer service or marketing your products are competitions.
C. How do you treat your customers?
When customers come to your shop, do you listen to their needs; put their needs first?
Did customers ask for a product and you said it will be available next week? Is it available?
If there’s a delay in the produce, how are you explaining it to your customers?
Customer service is the most important business you conduct in your business.
It’s not about the cute logo or cute muscly employees you have working for you. It’s about keeping the customers’ needs first.
If you keep your customers first, they will refer other customers to your shop and hype about the freshness of your products.
Study big brands like Amazon to see what and why Amazon sets itself apart. The customers are King.
D. You Cannot Undermine Personality Traits That Make or Break Any Business
Before starting freelance writing, the idea of working from the comfort of the home wearing pyjamas appealed to me.
I realised this was meant for me. I don’t like office politics and politics exhaust me though I am a good debater that doesn’t lose in any arguments.
I am a loner that loves to complete projects by myself without anyone breathing down my neck.
I love listening to other people and working in a team to complete projects because that brings out my competitiveness.
Why am I telling you this when you are only running a greengrocer? Your store will shine because of your personality.
Operating a greengrocer means listening to customer’s complaints non-stop.
Will you turn around and begin shouting at your customers when they say, ‘Akinyi, hii sukuma ya leo imekauka aje’’, aiii hii duka yako siku hizi huwa haustock kama day 1’’.
Will you turn around and begin defending yourself from the customer? Or will you turn around and decide to make your greengrocer a DAY ONE store forever?
Day One means, ‘On your toes for CUSTOMER SATISFACTION AND EXPERIENCE’.
The personality traits ensuring your greengrocery store succeed include,
Running a greengrocer means you need dedication. Like any business, you cannot start chasing other means of making money while your store is open and half running. You need to be a present boss; one that knows what their store wants and works hard to ensure everything runs well.
Smart work and hard work combined equal successful entrepreneurs.
This means keeping yourself in the trends in order to provide customers with the best service.
Smart work involves you listening to your team and working with your team to ensure you provide the best service.
A store’s success is reflective of the team. Encourage developmental ideas from your team.
Choose your people according to their strengths and abilities and don’t overwork them.
Discipline involves keeping schedule or opening time, respecting your team/people, listening to your customers and following through with their needs.
Don’t say you will add mushrooms or another green speciality then a year later customers have to make a request.
That shows you’re not paying attention. Discipline is about consistency in the delivery of your service, like Jeff Bezos says, ‘Remain a Day 1 store’.
Find your mission, vision and purpose statement and review them to ensure you stay on track with why you started your greengrocer.
Oh My, these days in every blog/vlog post, I emphasise patience. It’s hard to wait, we all know that.
Tight corners, debts, not turning profits as expected can discourage anyone or stop anyone from believing. The day you stop believing, your business dies.
Patience means waiting out for the unexpected and patience works like faith. Do your best then let God handle the rest.
You may not believe this but God is the one that gave you the idea to run a greengrocer, made me write a blog post for you to get started.
Putting trust in God while running your business makes your business reach heights you never expected.
Patience gets developed by the stamina and muscle you create every day, to make something you never expected.
You want to see what your invention and idea brings. Revisit your purpose, the reason to find your patience.
v. Never Give Up
DON’T stop believing in your business. I didn’t believe a blog could be a source of income, so, I worked my ass off for others with money. Guess what? My blog never gave me money; it was a hobby blog.
Then I started believing in my blogging/writing, quit my high-paying freelance writing career and started from scratch.
Your calling may make you give up, doubt, but do you know what businessmen do? They stay and keep moving without getting hindered by failure.
You cannot give up on a potential market.
Ever heard of some businesses and thought, ‘Oh my God, you can make money from that?”. That’s what happens to those that never give up.
Food is a need and you hit the jackpot with your greengrocer idea. There’s fierce competition but competition shouldn’t deter you but make you become the best.
11. Are you Customer Aware? Do You Know What Your Customers Want?
What’s your marketing message. Marketing is about putting your business in front of as many people as possible.
Marketing became easier with social media.
Start a YouTube channel, vlog about your day as/day in the life of a greengrocer business owner.
Day in the lives/Life in/Routine of, are common and favourable topics to get started as a greengrocer owner.
People love to see what others in different careers do or plan their days for success. Film behind the scenes of your firm and how you deal with challenges/successes.
Explain to the beginners how you got started in your greengrocer business. The more people are aware of your greengrocer, the more word they spread to others.
People want to find new businesses and services but they want to hype about a business that’s advertised. People want to identify with a ‘known brand’ or person. See ”Ugali Man”.
You cannot keep quiet; your brand isn’t storage but an energy-giving brand.
READ MORE: How to Use YouTube to Sell More as a GreenGrocer in Kenya
Branding is about establishing your store’s story.
Every business has a story and the stories can be as simple as inefficient grocery stores, lack of a job, side hustle.
As a greengrocer brand, you’re going to answer questions like, why you got started and what you aim to achieve. How are you going to answer?
Give customers a story behind your beginning; your why. Your why draws people’s attention and that’s what customers remember.
In other words, your mission, vision and purpose. Identifying what your brand does helps you answer questions like what you want to solve and what you aim to achieve.
If, as a greengrocer operator, haven’t identified what you want to solve other than make people eat, pose and reexamine.
READ MORE: What’s Branding and Why It Matters for Your GreenGrocery Store in Kenya
Grocery Stores to Inspire Green Grocer Operators in Kenya
Types of Veggies and Fruits To Sell in Your Green Grocer in Kenya
Starting a greengrocer store is a fun, easy and simple business.
Your competition may be tight from mama mbogas, supermarkets and the local markets.
You don’t have to feel pressure; provide the best customer service there is. Have your story across to as many people as possible.
Your story makes you stand out; your story is your brand.
Have you ever seen a mama mboga that’s branded their kiosk?
If you want to stand out from mama mbogas, it’s not about the beautiful building you are in or the cute workers but your fresh green produce, customer service, marketing and story that make you a successful greengrocer operator.
Be patient with yourself and your business.
Just because you offer the best service and are well branded doesn’t mean you will become a millionaire in a month.
A business owner needs patience and the stamina to observe and grow.
Be an action-taker. When customers request services like delivery or chopping, figure out how to employ the changes within your business.
Business changes happen infrequently (unplanned for even in the most detailed business plan) and you must adapt to the change/wave faster.
Listen to your customers they know how to make your business successful.
Treat your greengrocer as a DAY ONE store (keep learning, inventing, innovating, bringing and embracing changes as they happen and above all, make your customers happy).
Even though you wrote a business plan, plans change. In your business plan, include a clause saying CHANGES PAGE.
On this page, explain what will happen when customers begin requesting delivery services or greens which you must import, for example.
Plan to maximise your greengrocer by investing in farms producing greens and sending them to the local markets.
This ensures the timely delivery of your products without the headache of quarrelling with suppliers.
Find suppliers that are reliable and will meet your needs over a long period of time.
A greengrocer business means operating an ”eating store”. And people are forever eating. Advise your customers on what to try by giving them trial samples or buy at a discounted rate and have them give you their feedback.
Find a knowledgeable supplier that keeps deadlines if you are not into investing in farms.
Start small and think big. This means, start with the most affordable equipment, tools, workers you can afford from the pocket without borrowing or the need to ask for funding.
It’s a waste of time borrowing. Use borrowing and convincing time on marketing your business.
Focus that energy on how to get quality products, workers, suppliers and how to expand or grow your business.
Don’t get stuck on smallness or become comfortable in the small.
After the success of the small, always look for expansion strategists and planners, all while consulting your business plan.
Don’t forget to market your greengrocery store every day. Marketing makes customers aware of your business, you won’t struggle to get customers when you steadily market.
A good marketing strategy is on YouTube.
Learn how to record videos from your smartphone then film the day to day operations of running your business.
People love such content. You don’t know, you may be helping a business owner, not in your niche.
You may help them gain confidence in their business venture.
Also, filming helps you keep customers in the loop with your business and what you’re doing. Customers love to see your face more than your products.
You get suggestions on what to improve by adding or subtracting produce from your store. You get to know your speciality/niche from filming your store.
Also, everyone on the YouTube comments section is a teacher, you get to learn from the ‘free YouTube teachers’ with the hateful and loving comments.
Have fun and learn about operating your greengrocer store.
Are you a Kenyan entrepreneur with an appetite for beginning a greengrocer store? Are you scared that giant greengrocer stores like Naivas, Carrefour will beat you?