Picture: Garth Drummond, Founder and CEO of Webdev Africa.
Commenting on the launch of a new look of their classifieds marketplace platform two days ago, Garth Drummond, the CEO of Webdev Africa, told us they respect Econet for its achievements but they feel confident about defending their market leadership in internet classifieds in Zimbabwe.
We’d asked Drummond if the new Econet classifieds project which launched and relaunched these past few months, affects their strategy onwards. He said it doesn’t and, interestingly, brought up Webdev’s “partnership” with One Africa Media (OAM) as contributing to their strength against new competition like Ownai.
He however did acknowledge that the zero rating “could present a challenge for us”:
While there is a new competitor in the online classifieds space every month in Zimbabwe, we do respect Econet and its amazing achievements to date. It does not affect our strategy. We have always had free options and will continue to, in addition to offering extra value to our paying customers. Some aspects of their offering which leverage their incumbency as Zim’s largest MNO could present a challenge for us. However, with our clear market leadership in visitors and content, our pace of innovation, our track record of building successful online businesses, and additional experience, technology and marketing from OAM put us in a good position to combat that.
One Africa Media is one of Africa’s largest internet marketplace companies owning and operating classifieds type properties in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Mauritius, Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana.
On when they’ll be adding payments and auction to classfieds.co.zw Drummond said this is still being considered but priority was to re-develop the entire system from scratch.
He also shared some stats. He says their site now gets some 500,000 visits a month with casual sellers making up about 15% of all adverts posted.The property category, which now has a dedicated site, is still Classified.co.zw’s most trafficked category.
One key improvement he told us about which we hadn’t noticed when we posted the announcement earlier, is the ability for buyers and sellers to chat live on the site. There are also new subscription options for sellers. In addition to the 5 live ads for free, there are now $10, $30 and $50 per month subscription options to suit every budget.
The free ads limit has attracted some been compared unfavourably to Ownai’s “everything is free” mode they’re still in.