Zimbabwe’s e-commerce space, though not yet mature, has been growing at a slow rate. At least that’s what evidence on the ground suggests. All the necessary aspects of a stable e-commerce environment such as payment options, the wide availability of internet as well as a strong culture of consumerism are in place and we have had some local players coming up to seize the opportunity.
Another player has decided to join the growing e-commerce landscape and add to the competition. Local IT Solutions distributor Matrix Warehouse Computers who have an established presence in the local computer distribution market recently launched an online store aimed at boosting their sales and distribution digitally.
The inventory in their online store, mirrors their physical distribution model cutting across eight product types. These include the usual goods such as laptops, tablets, desktops, cameras, machine components, software packages, hardware accessories and printing specifics. This places them in direct competition with familiar players like 10ngah, Khayashopping and Appliance Expert.
The platform which was launched on the 25th of February this year was designed using OpenCart and the Matrix Warehouse team stuck to the default template with the idea of keeping the platform clean and simple. According to a representative from Matrix Warehouse, Edwin Muzeza, they are exploring plans to make the platform more responsive.
Payments methods that are currently available for the site are Vpayments, bank transfers and a cash on delivery option. Matrix Warehouse is aiming at maximum engagement of as many potential e-commerce clients as possible with plans to integrate mobile money options through the Telecash and OneWallet payment platforms in the short term.
Vpayments recently introduced plugins for various shopping cart systems which means the technical hurdles with this system payment system is sorted. However, it seems most local online retailers are still to find a solution when it comes to logistics.
Just like other e-commerce operators the delivery of goods bought from the Matrix Warehouse platform attracts a discouraging US$10 for Harare’s CBD and the surrounding areas. Anywhere outside this radius requires an arrangement with a third party carrier – which Matrix will do for you.
One idea for Matrix is to use Zimpost’s weight based courier service for deliveries outside Harare and they obviously need to reconsider their flat shipping rate for Harare. From where I stay, a round trip to Avondale (Where Matrix is located) will cost me a dollar, so where is the convenience in having deliveries that will cost me ten times more?
Moving back to Zimpost’s weight based deliveries outside Harare, we are told they they deliver anywhere in Zimbabwe at a rate of $1 for each kilogram. This is probably the rate that Zimbogini is getting from Zimpost but surprisingly adding some mark up to it.
The great thing about Open Cart is that it already has a weight based shipping option and Matrix only needs to input the Zimpost rates on it and voila they have a working shipping option that’s not only automated, but cheaper and convenient for all parties.
These are definitely learning curve mistakes that our pioneers and early adopters of eCommerce will have to grapple with. The great thing is most hurdles are gradually falling.
Next stop is dealing with the logistical hurdles. Maybe a Zimpost shipping plugin that integrates with popular shopping carts? Vpayments has done it so its something that is doable.
It will be interesting to see how this new entrant performs against competition of brick and mortar businesses as well as the other e-commerce providers. We would love to hear your take on this new platform.