ZIMALL.co.zw was one of the bright ideas that came through at this year’s ZOL start-up challenge and despite not coming close to the coveted $10,000 prize money, they are forging ahead with their project which is already live here.
Techzim caught up with them this week and they were quite eager to sign up users on the virtual mall. The ideas is, in simplest terms, an online mall with store fronts where merchants set up stores on the mall app and customers visit the mall to buy. It’s closely similar to Webdev’s classifieds with store fronts but the major difference is that ZIMALL handles payments, and they do it on behalf of merchants.
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When I met the guys behind ZIMALL, it was clear they hadn’t yet come up with the solution to a nagging challenge brought up at the Start-up challenge – how to get merchants and traffic on board. The problem dubbed the “chicken and the egg” simply asks how best to get both customers and merchants on the site especially when merchants want to see shoppers before they can commit and shoppers want to see merchants before they can regularly visit the mall. It’s a you can’t get the one without the other type of scenario!
Their current solution is to focus on signing up merchants first through leveraging personal relationships and networks. This could work but judging from current uptake (4 out of a target of 10 have signed up for October), you’d think this is a lot of leg work far more than it’s worth. But then again, a start-up gotta do what a start-up gotta do to get things moving.
Pleasing to note that they already have a Facebook app for direct access to the virtual mall on Facebook which could be key to driving shoppers to the virtual mall. Facebook and Google ads will be coming soon according to Michael Chiwere, the one half of the team behind ZIMALL.