It’s a fact; classifieds.co.zw is Zimbabwe’s most successful online classifieds. If not in monetary terms then at least successful in popularity. For a lot of people, it’s the only Zim classifieds site they know. Merchants use the site as the internet face of their business. Most businesses don’t even have their own websites; classifieds is about all there is for them in terms of internet presence.
We contacted Webdev, the company behind classifieds.c.zw, to get an idea just how successful the site is and maybe get some info about the site you might want to know. Being told the site registers upwards of 165,000 visitors a month therefore didn’t come a surprise. Monthly page views are over 8 million and the site holds some 14,000 adverts! (We visited Webdev to verify these stats ourselves.)
Some interesting information we didn’t expect though is that international visitors to the site account for 67% of the total visits. The Webdev founder and managing director says, properties, the most visited classifieds category on the websites explains this. And of course the fact that almost all the Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have at least some kind of access to the Internet, something not true for Zimbabweans at home.
The journey to where Classifieds is now wasn’t a short one. The idea itself occurred to the founders in 2000 and the original classifieds.co.zw was launched way back in 2001 only to abandoned just a year after launch. The reasons: very little content on the site, low Zim web use and, by the MD’s own admission, limited marketing. Around 2004 Webdev launched industry specific sites; www.property.co.zw, www.computers.co.zw and www.auto.co.zw and their success culminated in their merging and rebirth of the classifieds.co.zw we know today.
In terms of impact, the MD says the site has helped visitors compare prices, find services, events, jobs… love even! The business side has obviously benefited from a very affordable platform to market products. Very affordable in that any business can post as many adverts as they want for free. Only when a business buys a Storefront(some dedicated advertising page where a business can show its logo & colors and get preferential listing on searches) do they need to pay.
Still, with all these great stats, Classifieds has the low internet penetration problem to deal with to really go mainstream. Anyone without an internet connection for example probably doesn’t even know about the site and their classifieds of choice remains the local newspapers. Or, say you want an advert to be viewed by a customer type that typically doesn’t have internet; classifieds.co.zw is hardly an option to consider.
At the end of last year, Classifieds launched a print version to take care of the internet problem. According to the MD, the US $1 print version “has sold surprisingly well” and in addition to the copies sold in shops by a distribution company they have partnered, the Classifieds now has its own street vendors selling the ‘paper’. The company also plans to add mobile browser compatibility to tap into the mobile phone users market. Zimbabwe’s mobile penetration is now be over 60%. On what the possible rise in internet penetration this year, the MD had this say:
We have seen a significant increase in visitors since Econet’s 3G broadband launch towards the end of last year. In addition, with all the new incoming ISP competition and new incoming services from existing ISP’s, I think 2011 is going to bring a huge leap forward in Zimbabwe internet penetration. This will bring a lot more local buyers and sellers to www.classifieds.co.zw.
update: Please note that the visitor stats referred to above are from server based logs and not a web analytics tool like Google Analytics.