Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are now a huge aspect of literally everyone’s life. From communication, entertainment education, plus more, everything is now anchored on ICTs. Given that premise, it is understandable why ICT gadgets are now a lucrative business focus. From their manufacturing, sales, and maintenance to repair – these are possible niches when it comes to ICT gadgets. In this article, my specific focus will be an ICT gadget online shop here in Zimbabwe. I will cover the basics of how you can start yours in 2021.
When you hear online shop, what quickly comes to your mind? Typically most people think of a website where people can place orders and actually make payments. This of course is an online shop but most people never get to start an online shop because they feel it is too complex. Today I want to draw your mind to things you probably might have never thought of.
Have you ever heard about WhatsApp Business? If you have not then I implore you to check it out. This is because it has a catalogue feature where you can add pictures of your products along with the description, specifications and so on. This means when someone gets to your WhatsApp Business profile they can simply go through your catalogue. Facebook also has a catalogues feature and Instagram automatically arranges your posts in a way that can look like a catalogue. These are all platforms to leverage on – inexpensive online shops of sorts.
That does not mean you must not have a website; by all means please invest in having one. What I just let you in on is just a way of kick-starting your online shop inexpensively. Fresh In A Box, for instance, use a web app and WhatsApp for their online business. They even cited that most of their orders come through WhatsApp. This model is something you can employ for your online shop too because it is simple and works.
In case you are wondering how your website must look like I can refer you to a website of a buddy of mine. He deals with electronic gadgets and I can assure you his platform will inspire you because it is sleek yet ergonomic. The business is called Cubed Electronics and you can check out the website here.
As for online payments you can leverage mobile money, VISA or MasterCard, bank transfers and the like. You have them integrate on your shopping carts or you can work with customers sending you proofs of payments. Just find a way that is easy for both you and the customers. If you need top-notch web apps that have online payments integrated you can contact WebDev here – they are the best in the game of web development.
You must have an online presence so you need to have the necessary components to do that. You must at the very least have a high-end mobile smartphone, a PC (laptop or desktop), and a reliable internet connection. As time progresses, you can add more components to enhance the sophistication of your business. You will need to have an inventory of ICT gadgets – you must do thorough research to source what really sells. By online presence, I am obviously referring to having a website and being on social media platforms. These platforms must solely be for the business not for instance using your personal profiles as the face of the business.
Not much is needed in terms of human capital. Consider a scenario where your inventory stays at your home – you really will need you and your family, friends or relatives (whichever is applicable). Some of you might have heard of the Musungo brand; they specialize in smartphone accessories. They usually operate from a car i.e. you can place an order through WhatsApp and to collect your order you meet up with them in a respective town near you. They will usually park at a specific spot daily – just had to mention this for you to see how creative you can be in eliminating costs for your online shop business.
The most significant cost might actually be your inventory. Essentially where you order from (i.e. is it local or abroad?) has a huge bearing on how much it will cost you. Most of the other costs can be eliminated or managed.
The market is literally everywhere but it is hugely segmented. This means you must conduct market research to ascertain where and what is needed by the market. Do not make assumptions!
Important Things To Consider
Most Zimbabweans are still gradually building their trust for buying things online. They have good reasons to be sceptical because they have at some points been duped by online businesses. This calls on you to work towards gaining their trust. The most elementary way to do that is to deliver and deliver the right products, on or in time! You must get testimonials from customers who would have bought from you; reviews are also important. All these metrics will beef up social proofs that most prospective customers need to make their purchasing decisions. All in all, do not be dodgy or shady – people need to trust you and your business.
One of the beautiful things about this business is that you can actually make do without a brick and mortar facility. All of your inventory can be secured stored at your home. (If it does not hurt your cash flows then you can have a physical shop that can work along with the online shop). At the end of the day what is critically important is that you have a seamless delivery framework. Not forgetting that you must have a simple, alluring yet smoothly functional online ordering platform. It is also advisable that you sell genuine products so that you do not get into trouble when people request replacements and the like.