Ecommerce is growing year by year, as access to the factors to eCommerce make it increasingly possible to scale without reliance on brick and mortar establishments. The success of international titans such as Alibaba and Amazon in the eCommerce space has many eyeing this as a viable avenue for business growth. While Zimbabwe has not yet recorded any successful eCommerce titans individual sellers and manufacturers have found some success playing in the online space.
It’s easy to put a product online and get people to pay for it but logistics presents one of the biggest quagmires in eCommerce. If you’ve ever tried buying from abroad you will know that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) makes the process altogether not worth it with taxes and duty. The same thought needs to be given to your recipients country rules. Even for local transactions, careful consideration needs to be given to the logistics situation in the country. It is ever-improving, with players like Hwindi and Thumeza offering great packages.
Build it and they will come. No! The great fallacy of the online world is that people will be interested in you because you are online. It’s not enough to be online. You need to work out ways to attract people to your chosen selling points whether they be a website, social media platform or a hosted selling platform. Look deeply into digital marketing methods such as Search Engine Optimisation, Search Engine Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Influencer Marketing, Digital Remarketing and Content Marketing. You will need as much help as people getting people to your platform and keeping it relevant. A mix of paid and free marketing methods will keep your sales funnel loading.
The subject of marketing is followed hot on the heels by the subject of competition in markets. We must accept that most of our businesses are based on thinking that is already abundant in the public domain. As such it is reasonable to assume that many similar expressions of the idea exist and that requires you to differentiate your business sufficiently. There are so many ways to do this. Branding is, of course, the umbrella term for such but the idea is to truly stand out. It is really a matter of understanding your market. Customers have ideas and they will point you in the right direction as to how your business can best meet their needs.
A lot depends on the level of integration and automation in your business. While online systems make the task of processing transactions easier additional expenditure will have to be made to ensure the privacy and protection of information submitting through such systems. However it is not alien to integrated businesses, even businesses using a simple method such as a social media account and Ecocash can fall prey to security problems. So security needs to be taken seriously once you start accepting payments or transacting online. Have a clear communication policy that makes it hard for someone to impersonate you. Keep your official numbers clear in all your outlets and make yourself easy to find online.
Yes. Of course, nobody will want to return your products. However, preparation is important. You can always tell the businesses which do not have a policy in place for disputes by the way they stumble haphazardly through the process. Do not let your business become one of these. Online reputations can fall apart easily with a few bad reviews, or a highly motivated one. Having clearly spelt out policies for dealing with different circumstances that may arise will save you a lot of trouble when they present themself.
As a trend to look out for in 2020 and hopefully something we will see more and more of in Zimbabwe you need to ready yourself for online business in these 5 ways.