Econet’s E-Commerce platform Ownai never really took off on the scale we’ve come to expect with Econet products and became a household name. But fortunately, because Ownai is an Econet service (Oh wait, it’s now actually a Cassava SmartTech service) they can afford to sideline the platform and bring it back once they have revised their plan of attack. With last night’s announcement of Vaya Express, it seems Ownai will also be getting a revamp.
What’s Vaya Express?
If you’ve used Vaya Africa’s app you’ll notice that there are two options; Ride and Deliver. The delivery side is what Vaya Express will cater to and if their pricing is anything to go by they might make a serious dent. In order to have an estimate of pricing; we compared 3 services – Merchant Couriers, Hwindi, and Vaya Express.
For packages of 0-5 Kg’s you can opt for a motorbike and delivery from Marlborough (where our offices are) to Eastgate, the costs where as follows;
Hwindi – $11.85
Vaya Express – $5.33
Merchant Couriers – $6.97
Vaya Express has 5 options that can deliver your packages. There is the Express (bi)Cycle, Express Hopper, Expresser Bike, Express Pickup and Express Basic. These option cover most small and medium packages but if you want to deliver something that would be delivered using a truck then Vaya express is not an option.
Ownai gets a revamp…
Ownai’s e-commerce platform also got revamped and it’s not surprising that this new look Ownai was presented alongside Vaya Express. A lot of e-commerce’s hopes rest on logistical problems and for a long time e-commerce in Zim was not reliable in that the e-commerce sites were platforms for you to see something before then physically going to collect whatever interests you.
Clearly, this model of e-commerce is not ideal as it does not take the stress out of physical shopping and it was honestly more of a way of looking for devices you’re having a hard time finding in physical stores. Now with Vaya Express, the hope is that sellers on the e-commerce platform will now be able to factor in delivery using this convenient service
e-commerce boom on the way?
As mentioned before the logistics behind deliveries are among the biggest downsides hampering e-commerce greatly and I think once that hurdle is solved there might be a boom. Yes, we can’t ignore other factors such as cost. Until the demand rises significantly there will always be problems. For companies such as Amazon logistics where and are still a nightmare.
Locally, apart from logistics, there are still exorbitant charges that come with transacting online that make it less attractive than just going to the shops directly. Methods of payment are another hindrance as the checkout processes are not as smooth (though they are improving) as they should be. Payment gateways add to the charges and APIs for mobile money services such as EcoCash are not easy to secure. As long as these things are not addressed e-commerce has a road to go
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