In this series I will look on tips and howtos for prospecting and current online shoppers in Zimbabwe.
Just like in a supermarket, after which many online shopping carts are modelled, you will have to pay for the product you want to buy before it is shipped to you. The accepted payment methods vary from seller to seller. The ways to effect payment range from simple and common like the use of a debit card or Western Union to complex electronic money methods like webmoney and bitcoin.
The best method when making payments from Zimbabwe is to use either 2Checkout or Google Wallet. This would make it easier to effect chargebacks in cases of fraud or unsatisfactory service. At the moment and to the best of my knowledge, Zimbabwean issued Visa and MasterCards cannot receive funds directly. So the use of the Payment services will allow your payment systems account to be credited with the chargeback amount in addition to protecting you from some forms of fraud.
If these are not available one can always use their debit card to pay directly. Whenever making payments directly using your card always make sure that the URL in your browser starts with https. Click on the padlock icon in the address bar to ensure that everything in the current page is encrypted before you start entering your payment details. Although the URL can be the same as that of the store from which you are buying, this need not always be the case as a good number of stores subcontract the payments collection processes.
Although there are some reputable online stores that accept Western Union/MoneyGram as a means of payment using these methods is never a good idea. Firstly these methods tend to be a bit expensive when compared to the other methods mentioned so far since someone from the seller’s side has to actually go and collect the money. Secondly in cases of fraud you have no way of effecting a chargeback. Thirdly, your order is not processed until payment has been received at which time the order will have to be manually processed which may result in delays in receiving your package.
The same applies to bank transfers although it is possible albeit difficult to effect a chargeback. The minimum cost to make a wire transfer is around $25 minimum and depending on your order this might wipe away whatever savings you intended to make by going through the online buying route.
When making payments for Zimbabweans there is the perennial PayPal problem. According to their website PayPal only accepts credit/debit cards that are issued in approved countries of which Zimbabwe is unfortunately not one. When signing up Zimbabwe is also not included the list of countries. The latter problem can easily be solved by using a US forwarding address like USABox.com. The card problem can also be solved by getting the Mukuru.com MasterCard details can be obtained on Mukuru.com’s Facebook page here. I should say in advance that this would be a work around so do not expect things to be easy and flawless when using the service. You should only use PayPal when you absolutely have to otherwise other methods of payments are to be preferred if you want to live a hassle free life.
It is also possible to use the concierge services that is offered by various agents especially if for some reasons you are unable to purchase the item on your own. For example if you are dealing with a merchant who only accepts PayPal only, as most Ebay merchants tend to do and you are not willing to go through the pain getting a card that PayPal will accept. USABox.com and comGateway.com offer this service where they buy the product for you and have it shipped to your address. They charge 10% of the items price or a minimum of $10.
There are other payment methods such as bitcoin,Liberty Reserve, ukash, Skrill, webmoney etc but some of these tend to be a bit complicated. Some are currencies in their own rights and as a consequence they are subject to currency fluctuations. These methods while novel are to be avoided by the average user.