Ecommerce is coming alive if recent activities in startup circles are anything to go by. This month alone, we have published at least three online retail startups (1, 2, and 3) looking to make an early break in this space. The heightened conversation around payments and the role they play in eCommerce is also indicating that eCommerce is there for the taking and Easyparts.co.zw seems to be ready to grab it.
Easyparts.co.zw is not your typical “tech startup” is the purest sense but a brick and mortar auto parts retailer and distributor seeing value and opportunities in digital commerce. Easyparts.co.zw sells auto parts and metals online to both resellers and end-user consumers – an electronic replica of their existing offline model.
The company came on the scene back in 1983 with the purchase of Radiator Services before diversifying in 1986 with the formation of Bolts n’ Hoses and a metals division called Veteran metals. The company consolidated operations under the Easyparts brand in 2013 and digital is at the core of their move forward.
Easyparts is different from other eCommerce startups that have been popping up of late. Most eCommerce startups have come up with unproven concepts and models that wouldn’t necessarily work in brick and mortar environments, and for a less “disruption ready” market like Zimbabwe, chances of success are limited (with the exception of digital products).
Easyparts on the other hand has a straightforward, less disruptive approach that’s primarily responding to the fast pace of modern day commerce.
In fact, Easyparts director says he does not see his company solving any “market problems” but instead,
“helping to solve one of our (their) own problems as a company, lack of marketing. We developed the website primarily as a marketing and sales tool. We hope the website will enable customers to see exactly what we stock and help them to choose their products easily.”
This is a sharp contrast from other eCommerce startups we have been seeing who are ironically pushing advanced solutions in an undeveloped market.
Easyparts has 30 years experience doing what they do and that alone can inspire confidence from consumers (at least their existing customers) to say, “instead of me going all the way to Granite side to buy my brake pads at Easyparts, why don’t I Just order online using my smartphone and have it delivered home.”
Consumers can’t say the same about other eCommerce startups who not only don’t have a history but the best contact address they have is a post office box. Consumers need to trust that the eCommerce retailer has the merchandise displayed on the website in stock and that they can deliver it. Easyparts.co.zw seems to inspire confidence at that kind of level.
The Easyparts website is functionally good and browsing products is quiet easy but the site is a bit heavy on the eye. It’s not as clean as most modern websites but nevertheless does the job.
Payments options, as expected, are still limited. Dave Adams says the company is working on integrating vPayments and Ecocash, but at present, payments are via COD and bank transfer.
Easyparts has arguably all the right elements to be successful in eCommerce because customers can trust it’s history even though they still consider themselves small. Their simple approach to eCommerce is something that has been missing but could be the right step or maybe a first step towards a vibrant eCommerce sector in Zimbabwe. Dave Adams sums it up by saying,
“We’re a little company up against the big guys. It gives me particular pleasure that we were the first automotive spares company to put a proper website together with online pricing and stock quantities”
Ecommerce has been largely mystified in Zimbabwe so much that traditional companies think it’s too complicated to even contemplate. Easyparts has simplified their approach and they may have just shown that eCommerce may lie in the hands of existing, trusted, brick and mortar businesses more than new tech startups.
Do you think the answer to eCommerce in Zimbabwe lies in existing, trusted brands going digital?