There is no going back on adopting eCommerce models. If your business does not adopt them then chances are high that you might trail behind. By the end of this year, it is projected that retail eCommerce sales will be well over US$5 trillion globally. More and more people are active online and catalysed by the lockdown restrictions the trend can only spur on. In Zimbabwe, I am glad to applaud that there has been considerable progress in the uptake of eCommerce services. A sizeable number of people still have trust issues and would rather buy things physically than online. However, business or industry players should now adopt eCommerce; in this article, I look at some of them that should.
No doubt this is the most important industry in Zimbabwe. We are seeing lots of activities happening in the sector which is a good sign. Specialized farming approaches are being embraced e.g. greenhouse farming, hydroponics, and the like. Several people are getting into livestock production too and so is crop production. It is sad to note that most players in these areas are not running their enterprises online. You and I know that there are countless farmers in Zimbabwe but you would be amazed at how hard it is to find them online.
When it comes to agricultural services it is even better since most of them are available online. However, there is a need for a balance; we need to see all players available online. Not only should they just be online but they should make it possible for people to buy products or services online. It is a win-win situation because everyone benefits from something. Look out for an article looking at Zvikomborero Farms, a case in point of the importance of eCommerce in agriculture.
Mining And Construction
Not sure why it is somewhat the norm to not easily find mining products or services online in Zimbabwe. I am yet to even see a dedicated market place solely focused on just mining. Most of the activities done in this sector seem to be done off-grid. By that I mean you most likely will only get to access certain products or services offline. I firmly believe introducing eCommerce into the mining sector can greatly enhance the sector. Mining businesses must take up an eCommerce model where possible. The same goes for construction – so many construction companies that are hard to locate online. Given the rise in construction, it is vital that it be easy to find goods or services online. Just something as basic as a quote should be easy to find online.
Wholesale And Retail
Supposing you want to purchase something from Pick ‘n Pay it should be possible to order online and get it delivered to you. It is surprising why respective outlets in this domain have not yet made ordering online and deliveries mainstream. Some of them are doing that already e.g. Food World. Edgars also has that service but they could have started this ages ago. If a supermarket can order bread and it gets delivered to them why not extend that same service to their subsequent customers. Lots of people would prefer to just order from the comfort of their homes.
Some learning institutions have already adopted eCommerce in the rollout of their services. I have always been deeply disturbed by the absence of many learning institutions online. University is generally online i.e. they have websites and all. However, most of them are not leveraging on that to actually sell goods or services online. As for high schools and other lower-level learning institutions, it is worse – most of them you would think are online do not have websites.
The times we are in now require that a learning institution makes it possible for anything to be done online. Registration, payment of monies, purchasing of school supplies, and all related elements should be done wholly online. The rollout of classes and even tutorial classes should accessible online. Most learning institutions have goods and services that they can actually commercialize and they must adopt e-commerce for that. For instance, a learning institution with a farm or garden can sell its produce online through its website.
Even despite the increased online presence, the entertainment industry has not fully adopted eCommerce. I see many content creators (from music artists to actors, comedians and so on) are on Facebook and YouTube – that is commendable. However, many of them do not even have websites where they sell things online e.g. their music, videos and the like. Being on platforms like Facebook and YouTube is good because they get money out of that. I feel they must take it a notch further by having landing pages which should essentially be their websites. There they can sell their products and services. We also need to pay per view models being adopted – for instance, what Gateway Stream is doing. We also need to see subscription-based streaming services for local music, videos, movies and the like. These things will greatly revolutionize the Zimbabwean entertainment industry.
Those are some of the areas in which it is now imperative to adopt eCommerce. Adoption of eCommerce can be broadly in two ways namely, shifting brick and mortar to digital operations (or marrying the two). The second would be setting up new businesses wholly online from scratch. So a business like OK, Edgars, or Food World can simply add an online shopping service (including deliveries). Some are already doing that and that is commendable but we need to get to a place where any business player can be accessed online. We need to see the total experience where a customer can order and receive a product right in the comfort of their home. Nothing is as painful as the pain of a new idea but an idea whose time has cannot be stopped though. Customers and businesses alike must embrace and measure up to the future of doing business.