TN Holdings to launch an online shop

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We’ve received reliable information that TN Holdings, one of the fastest growing of companies locally, is preparing to introduce an e-commerce platform to enable Zimbabweans to purchase its products over the internet. TN Holdings has interests in financial services, health, furniture and more recently, supermarkets and fast food outlets.

We contacted several people at the company to get more information about the development but no one is yet to confirm (or deny) the company is working on such a project.

TN will be one of the first companies in Zimbabwe to launch an e-commerce platform. It also has a huge opportunity to introduce an e-commerce service none other company has been able to locally, thanks to its operations in the banking sector and mobile money services with Econet.

So far the one e-commerce website that has been somewhat visible in Zimbabwe is Zimazon, which launched last year. We have not been able to get any updates from Zimazon concerning just how busy their platform is but a couple of contacts around have told us they successfully used the platform to purchase electronic gadgets.

A problem that has hindered e-commerce locally has been that of not being able to provide a internet payments solution that internet users have convenient access to. In a country where credit and debit cards are not a common means of transacting (on or off-line) and PayPal doesn’t work, providing these payment option on a website will not get any meaningful transactions done. Zimazon itself so far allows you to ‘buy’ an item online and pay for it using hard cash when it’s delivered. It’s e-commerce, working backwards.

Payments is where TN could totally change the game. From what we hear so far the company will go with the Zimazon cash model at launch, but chances are high they are preparing to use EcoCash as one of the payment methods. EcoCash is the one ‘debit card’ that more than 70% of the Zimbabwean population already have access to.

Zimazon itself was at one point rumoured to be working with ZimSwitch to enable online payments through the payments gateway ZimSwitch promised the market last year. Zimazon, we hear, was meant to be the ZimSwitch pilot for the payments system.



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17 Comments

      1. Nerudo

        All active ? could be viable if at least >30% of those are active and willing consumers.

        Kind of scary handing money over the internet. Think im lying ask my mum? or better still yours.

        “Ko kana ikabiwa nema Nigeria” – famous line

        Reply
        1. tinm@n

          You are actually right! A greater part of the real work will be convincing people to get into the culture of online spending and trusting the services.

          does “123 Cell Money” ring any bells? it was well placed considering the then hundreds of thousands of cellphone subscribers, but had lacked foresight or planning in getting buy-in. It was a good lesson for them though…and for some of us observers.

          Not meaning to throw a dead cat into a party though. But there is alot of work convincing masses, which luckily TN has the capacity…to even fail and experiment. Not so for most of us mere mortals

          Reply
          1. tinm@n

             ok, perhaps 123Cell Money had the foresight…but hadnt anticipated the public’s reaction

          2. Mk

            I think TN being a large retail business is actually onto something good.

            This is where e-commerce faces a challenge though – payments and culture of online spending. It’s easier said than done to establish that culture. It would be worthwhile if we can actually get real stats from Zimazon. 
            An online population of 2.5 million is really meagre. Its hard to gain critical mass with such a population and generate meaningful revenue. Of that 2.5 million, how many would buy online? And then of those who buy online how many would make use of your service? And keep returning. For established businesses like TN, online is just about opening up an added avenue for generating business and serving their customers better but for a purely online business like Zimazon, the odds are heavily stacked against them. For Zimbabwean start-ups purely focused on e-commerce, think of numbers, critical mass. E-commerce opens up a global marketplace, build e-commerce businesses that take Zimbabwean products to the world starting with South Africa. That’s an inside-out approach. South Africa’s e-commerce industry is worth R2 billion but take these stats, factor Zimbabwe in and you will get the picture:

            - SA has a population of 40 million
            - 5.2 million were online in 2010
            - 920 000 made online purchases, so that’s 17%
            - It takes the average user 5 years to be comfortable spending online

            For e-commerce to become a true reality in Zimbabwe, we need the major and established retailers (e.g. Edgars, Meikles, OK, maybe TN – can’t think of more examples) to start selling via the web. And then developers, entrepreneurs building services to enable the e-commerce to take place i.e. build our own e-commerce platforms and stop taking solutions from outside – our own shopping carts, delivery systems, payment systems, mobile commerce etc. Services like Ecocash are not the be it all and hope for e-commerce to thrive. Also the big retail businesses with a mass of consumers willingness to sell via the internet is crucial. E-commerce is a different ball game to mobile apps (many of which are just mobile websites) that Zim developers are in a frenzy about. 

  1. Greg Chiponda

    If TN develops a online payments platform/wallet that uses Eco-cash they will have got a winner. I truly believe that eco-cash has the potential to revolutionise the web economy in zimbabwe if it can be integrated into a web platform/wallet of some sort. i hear they are already working on something of that sort, so kudo’s to econet.

    Reply
  2. Lon

    tell them to secure their site else the dogs and wolves of the underworld are watching and sooner or latter will pound on the site to steal money once there is reasonable gain of  doing so…That’s the current trend in terms of security economics.Hope TN took this into consideration.

    Reply
  3. Harrison Ford, Air Force 1

    Zimazon itself was at one point rumoured to be working with ZimSwitch to enable online payments through the payments gateway ZimSwitch promised the market last year. Zimazon, we hear, was meant to be the ZimSwitch pilot for the payments system.

    If that is so then i believe the integration failed because of a lack of skills. Anyone can download open source software, but not everyone can actually code an extension or a plugin.

    Reply
      1. Harrison Ford, Air Force One

        I dont come from there. But it looks like you have some info on life there. Maybe you come from there. Sounds like you could be in denial.

        Reply
  4. Prosper Chikomo

    The Zimbabwe “tech” community does not really appreciate online payments and payment processors. TN Bank isn not launching a online payments system.

    Econet has a registered payments system EcoCash, which relies on TN Bank.

    TN Bank, as far as i am concerned is simply building a online store and accepting payments via Ecocash. This is very easy to do. It is now only a matter of hours, if not today, then days, before Econet activates the “Pay Merchant” facility.

    It would be senseless for TN Bank to set up a Ecocash-rival payments system, even if it were only for online payments.

    Lastly, TN Bank will not be one of the first to launch an online platform. They will priobably be the biggest but right now they are not one of the first. They are late commers. Many people, including myself, have been, and are accepting online payments. Even long before TN Bank was founded. many others have been accepting payments via SMS. I could go on and on but to be brief i will end here.

    Reply
    1. tinm@n

       The Zimbabwe “tech” community does not really appreciate online payments and payment processors.

      how generalist

      Reply
      1. Prosper Chikomo

        I admit i am being generalist. But i will say the confusion about what a online payment is is just too much. I have encountered many people who think Paypal is “online payments” the way any toothpaste is called Colkgate in Zimbabwe. Some think it is the o0nly way payments are made online.

        I will now cite the article

        A problem that has hindered e-commerce locally has been that of not
        being able to provide a internet payments solution that internet users
        have convenient access to.
        ….

        Payments is where TN could totally change the game. From what we hear so
        far the company will go with the Zimazon cash model at launch, but
        chances are high they are preparing to use EcoCash as one of the payment methods.

        There is no game they will change. NONE. They are just like the rest of us.

        Lastly, there are many people in Zimbabwe paying for, even electricity (ZESA) online.

        Reply
  5. Ngoda Business

    The problem with human beings is that we are afraid of venturing into uncharted waters. We want investments which are 100% safe and which achieve a 100% Return On Investment. This does not work in the real work, turns out that the most profitable ventures are the ones with the highest risk. Take a look at Investment Banking. Where there is a wish there is a way.

    Reply

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