eCommerce is something I am going to be talking about for a while. The scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it inevitable to give eCommerce a backseat. There are players who were already active in ecommerce that are enjoying booming business right now. Reports indicate that Amazon (the global leader in eCommerce) added on US$24 billion to its brand value in the past 3 months. Amazon even indicated that business has been so active that they have failed to keep up with the pace of the surge in orders placed. This is a clear testament to how lucrative eCommerce is. This is why businesses are setting up online stores to stay in the game. Herein I look at ZimTrade, one of the local businesses working on establishing an online store.

Who Is ZimTrade?

Let me just briefly look at who ZimTrade is for the benefit of those hearing about it for the first time. ZimTrade, the national trade development and promotion organization, is the unique joint venture partnership between the Private Sector and the Government of Zimbabwe. It was established in 1991. Its aim is to energize Zimbabwe’s export growth. This is because exports are a vital component in the generation of foreign currency earnings. These foreign currency earnings are critical in improving the balance of trade. ZimTrade seeks to contribute to Zimbabwe’s growth and prosperity through developing and catalysing viable and sustainable exports. You can find out more on their website.

ZimTrade Indicates It Is Working On An Online Store

ZimTrade has expressed its interest in eCommerce and has pointed out that it is working on an online store. It mentioned this in sentiments it aired in its recent newsletter. Pertinent views and assertions were highlighted in the newsletter which read as follows:

In a quest to remain relevant and align to the evolving global trading environment, ZimTrade is working on its online store which is premised on the need to create a singular window for marketing and selling Zimbabwean products virtually. A domicile where Zimbabwean companies can be hosted for purposes of trading in the international digital economic community while getting similar services that ZimTrade offers physically.

Its main objectives will be to augment strategies to grow Zimbabwe’s exports, create more streams of generating foreign currency, develop technologically-centred solutions for local exporters that encompasses a mobile application, harness the benefits of the digital economy for corporate level and national level economic growth that will impact on the social level of life improvement, as well as availing a platform for expanding the number of exporters, especially the SMEs.

No one knows how long the pandemic will last and how many casualties will be amassed in the process. Nevertheless, life at some stage must go on! Terms like social distancing, quarantine and staying at home have become the new normal with many consumers beginning to appreciate online shopping. Online business is booming and the time to jump on is now. This is a clear indication of the dynamic nature of doing business and in this light, local businesses should urgently consider e-commerce going forward.

Naturally, brands that have a well-equipped and fully functional e-commerce platform are high on the maturity curve and have an advantage over their retarded counterparts who are yet to embrace e-commerce. Some enterprises are still yet to embrace and harness the power of e-commerce which has had a generally slow uptake. This has been due to strong beliefs on archaic business practices that have long since been phased out globally, as the world has been digitalizing at an unprecedented pace. Expectedly many manually operating businesses have since shut shop involuntarily, thereby deflecting traditional customers to the e-commerce alternative.”

This looks to be quite promising especially given the infrastructure and support structures that ZimTrade has. They can simply tap into their online and physical platforms which already are a head start. The fact that ZimTrade was formed in part by participation of the private sector is a great leverage. Rolling out this vision of an online store and other online-based services is noble but it will take some significant work though. There are so many stakeholders involved which can make consensus an uphill task. Hopefully, the involvement of government will augment rather than stifle the progress of what ZimTrade is seeking to do.