“You also have to consider that we scored 0 on postal reliability. This could also be one of the reasons why people are generally not keen on buying things online in Zimbabwe.” I culled that from a recent article where I did an overview of the 2020 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Business to Customer (B2C) Ecommerce Index. Zimbabwe scored zero on universal postal union reliability. In short, our postal system is in shambles. Contrast with Switzerland where anyone is within a 20-minute walk or public transport ride to the nearest postal office. This means there is a serious issue in Zimbabwe but it does present some business opportunities. Business ideas to address that issue are what I am looking at in this article.
Huge Ecommerce Prospects – Major Setback Is Postal Reliability
There are huge prospects for eCommerce in Zimbabwe, no doubt! However, one of the major impediments is postal unreliability. The postal system is in dire straits so much that we can barely even talk of having a postal system at all. Several things can be done to address this though. Firstly, the postal system can be redressed to become more relevant to the modern-day digital age. I think Zimpost can realize some huge revenues if they take advantage of and make themselves relevant to the budding eCommerce bubble in Zimbabwe.
Secondly, and that is where this article comes in, we can have businesses being set up to address this gap that presently exists. There are businesses of course that are already doing eCommerce and providing delivery services. Unfortunately, I keep seeing unending streams of customer complaints on inefficiencies when it comes to deliveries. It means we still have a long way to go.
Direct Vehicular Delivery Services
There are several types of vehicular transportation necessary in making deliveries. They range from ordinary bicycles to large haulage trucks; it depends on the size of the package(s). So by ‘direct’, I am referring to a scenario where you probably own one or more of those transportation items. You can then avail yourself to enterprises selling goods online. You can basically enter working agreements where you do deliveries for them. It is a simple and straightforward model and can go a long way in streamlining deliveries in Zimbabwe. This takes the pressure off eCommerce businesses to buy vehicles for deliveries.
Outsourcing Vehicular Delivery Services
It is basically similar to the one I have just been explaining; the differentiating element is the outsourcing part. Here is what I mean: consider a scenario where an online shop takes orders from customers online. They then using existing courier services such as Swift or FedEx to deliver ordered items to the customers. In essence, eCommerce businesses are outsourcing delivery services from a pre-existing courier service. My suggestion here is that you can start a business by having eCommerce businesses outsource from your pre-existing framework.
An example of the pre-existing framework can be this: have you ever noticed how people pay public services vehicles e.g. buses to deliver packages? In essence that is the outsourcing, I am referring to in that you are leveraging on a pre-existing framework. This means if you have a public service vehicle or a fleet of them you can have eCommerce businesses outsource your services to get packages delivered to clients.
Ecommerce-Centred Postal Service
Think of how the traditional postal system works. It has always entailed a sender going to the postal service with a package meant to be sent somewhere. Then on the other end, the postal service either delivers to the recipient’s doorstep or the recipient goes to collect themselves. You can set up such a business that is solely meant for eCommerce enterprises. It somehow requires capital and very complex logistical operations but it is doable. You can start small, say, focusing on just a locality and then you scale over time.
Freelance Delivery Services
There are many possible approaches but I will just mention one. Think of how Uber or Vaya operate. They are platforms that connect ride seekers to ride providers. So you can come up with a platform, physical or virtual (or both – hybrid) where those with the capacity to deliver goods on-demand register. Then eCommerce businesses get onto the platform to look for delivery services. You can make it even more competitive by setting up a system where delivery service providers actually bid for gigs. This will create an ecosystem marked by high efficiency since providers would want to have high ratings and more businesses coming their way.
I just floated some umbrella-like business ideas but I did that to spark your imagination. The number of ways you can adopt in establishing a unique business under each banner is infinite. You are going to have to think outside the box – better still do not even think like there is a box. If you really critically think you can come up with some disruptive business ideas that will shake Zimbabwe.