Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce mega corporation has opened the world to the countless possibilities that come from conducting business over the internet. Jack Ma and his team weren’t the first in the online commerce game but they managed to play an instrumental role in bringing the massive Chinese producers market to doorsteps around the world.
One of its subsidiaries, AliExpress, has also managed to create this impression in Zimbabwe. The online retail service has offered bargain hunting Zimbabweans and resellers an avenue for picking up competitive deals on products that traditionally have high markups in other import markets like South Africa.
Accessing the service is fairly simple. As long as you have enough internet to log onto the AliExpress website and you can complete online purchases using easy to access plastic money alternatives available in Zimbabwe (even EcoCash’s debit cards work on AliExpress) while being reasonable enough to handle the charges attached to collecting your goods, it’s an option that you can explore.
You can read more on how to buy goods on AliExpress and bring them to Zimbabwe by following this link to an article that outlines the steps to take.
Where does AliExpress score points?
So why should anyone use AliExpress to buy their next mobile device or a new set of accessories for their phone when the local market is teeming with providers that can spare someone the hassles of goods bought online?
It turns out that besides the generic benefits that come from online commerce such as the ease of price and product comparison people prefer AliExpress for some very simple reasons.
In a quick survey among members of Techzim’s WhatsApp groups, people who have used AliExpress in the past 4 months point to the competitive prices offered on an extensive range of products.
It’s actually a double-edged competitive advantage which marries two important considerations in shopping and retailing – price and choice. When they are complementing each other, anyone, especially the average Zimbabwean who is normally restricted to a limited set of options is easily sold on to any retailer or platform’s the huge benefits.
There’s also the shipping and delivery process which has so far been reported to work efficiently. One of the hurdles in bringing in any sort of product is that nightmare that comes in arranging shipping followed by the anxiety of delivery and peaking with the long drawn processes for collection.
By most indications AliExpress has fared well with goods arriving safely and the local postal service company Zimpost rising to the occasion here with an easy process for collection. Even ZIMRA which will take what it’s owed has simple to understand procedures for payments on duty.
All this has contributed to the rising prominence of AliExpress as an option for buying consumables, so much that some small-scale retailers consider it as a good stop gap measure for orders that are made before any major shipment is brought in.
An easy to use payment system, a wide variety of goods, competitive pricing and safe and secure delivery. While these factors all seem simple to understand and are a bit of an afterthought, some or most of them are left out by some e-commerce startups. Perhaps they should also look at what AliExpress is doing right and pick out how to make that work for their own platforms.