When it comes to online classifieds for the Zimbabwean market, classifieds.co.zw has made a compelling case as the go-to site for anyone who wants to sell or look for products and services online thanks to its extensive listings and the traffic it enjoys.
Which is why its most recent change could be one of the most important ones for local e-commerce. The classifieds site recently added a shopping cart marking classifieds.co.zw’s increased focus on online trading.
Users can place orders on specific goods that are listed for sale (these can be identified with the “add to cart” icon and they can also be found under the tab reserved for “buy” adverts).
Once the product is placed in the cart the buyer needs to share their contact details as well as preferred shipping and payment options – information which will be shared with the seller who can confirm availability and price of the product.
What’s the big idea, though?
At a glance, the new cart and the exchange of details is an unnecessary step in the way Classifieds has traditionally worked.
Ordinarily, buyers and sellers who meet on the platform have always been able to continue conversation off the site to hammer out certain details specific to the goods being sold. There is no need for another stage.
Without adding a payment stage it looks like all Classifieds has done is to add another layer between buyers and sellers.
However, seeing that Webdev (the company that owns Classifieds) has in the past expressed plans to transform its platform into an online trading site and that they own Zimbabwe’s most reliable payment gateway Paynow, this actually appears to be another major move towards that.
With the way Classifieds generates significant traffic and registers significant business and consumer listings, this could also open up online retailing to a larger segment of the Zimbabwean market.
This could also help some of its competitors like Econet’s Ownai in establishing just how lucrative such a crossover is along with the challenges it presents in this market.
Ownai was launched in 2015 as a zero-rated classifieds platform and Econet has expressed plans to turn it into a fully fledged online trading platform as the operates eyes the opportunities in e-commerce.
The level of success that the market leader Classifieds enjoys or the challenges that it faces with such a move will be a good study for Econet.