Have you ever wanted to buy a new gadget and had to resort to travelling to South Africa for it, because locally it’s either just unavailable or has an obscene price tag? On some occasions, have you had to ask someone travelling from the UK, the US or some other such country to bring a laptop, digital camera or phone with them? Has that someone had stuff stolen from their bag at the airport and the thief somehow targeted your priced new gizmos?
These are common problems when buying imported goods in Zimbabwe. Most people end up just buying inferior unbranded (or shameless imitations) in downtown Harare.
This is the problem a new start-up called Zimazon is trying solve. www.zimazon.co.zw is an online shopping website setup by local ICT solutions company, Ministro Zimbabwe. The shopping site was built using open source technologies, notably the OpenCart open sourse shopping cart system.
Zimazon has a typical internet merchant system providing a catalog of products which, when a customer clicks to buy are ordered on the customer’s behalf from global suppliers. The goods are ordered from outside Zimbabwe and shipped once a customer confirms the order. The goods are delivered to a customers door step in Harare in 7 to 14 days.
On the big question of how Zimazon processes payments, Bruce Grobler, Ministro’s Technical Manager says it’s cash and bank transfers for now: “Zimazon is supposed to be as easy as going to your local store and buying a laptop, even more so as your aren’t driving there!, Cash on delivery is brilliant, I believe people still don’t quite trust online services especially when it has the potential to hurt their pocket, one of us had to take a leap, so we did”
Grobler however is looking forward to the convenience mobile banking will bring to online transaction. “With organisations such as ZimSwitch and the MNOs pushing hard for new m-commerce platforms we are confident that the shopping experience for all Zimbabweans will transform in the next 6 to 12 months” he explained.
It’s too early to see how much success Zimazon is likely to have, or if it’ll manage to leverage mobile connectivity to go mainstream. It’s just two months since Zimazon launched. Still, a startup taking strides in the direction of tomorrow’s commerce is interesting.