ZIMTRADE is working on an online store premised on the need to create a singular window for marketing and selling Zimbabwean products virtually, as part of its efforts to remain relevant and aligning to the evolving global trading environment.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
In its latest newsletter, the country’s export promotion body revealed that some of the objectives of the new online store would be to augment strategies to grow Zimbabwe’s exports and create more streams of foreign currency.
“In a quest to remain relevant and align to the evolving global trading environment, ZimTrade is working on its online store which is premised on the need to create a singular window for marketing and selling Zimbabwean products virtually,” part of the newsletter reads.
“A domicile where Zimbabwean companies can be hosted for purposes of trading in the international digital economic community while getting similar services that ZimTrade offers physically.”
“Its main objectives will be to augment strategies to grow Zimbabwe’s exports, create more streams of generating foreign currency, develop technologically-centred solutions for local exporters that encompasses a mobile application, harness the benefits of the digital economy for corporate level and national level economic growth that will impact on the social level of life improvement, as well as availing a platform for expanding the number of exporters, especially the SMEs,” it reads.
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused severe disruptions in business, both locally and globally.
During the past couple of weeks, as businesses went on lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce has been gaining some notable traction.
E-commerce is the service that bridges any industry and makes it possible to monetise without exposing customers or employees to COVID-19.
Consumer spending is one of the most important driving forces for global economic growth.
With so much uncertainty about the spread of COVID-19 from business to business and business to customer, ZimTrade said it was imperative that businesses, especially in the Third World explore the relatively unknown and innovate to align themselves with the perceived panacea to trading woes in light of COVID-19.
“No one knows how long the pandemic will last and how many casualties will be amassed in the process. Nevertheless, life at some stage, must go on!” ZimTrade said.
ZimTrade said the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak of 2003 had a lesser impact than COVID-19, but cost the global economy an estimated US$40 billion, according to Bloomberg, with China — an industrial and manufacturing giant — experiencing several months of economic contraction.
In this light, local businesses must not wait to act.
“Terms like social distancing, quarantine and staying at home have become the new normal with many consumers beginning to appreciate online shopping,” it said.
To continue operating under the new normal, ZimTrade said a well-designed e-commerce platform would offer viable solutions and convenience to the customer.
Examples of existing successful e-commerce platforms that could form a benchmark for local businesses is Amazon Inc founded by Jeff Bezos.
Officially the world’s largest retailer, Amazon, announced that it could no longer cope with consumer demand and as a result it would delay delivery of non-essential items, or in some cases not take orders for non-essentials at all.
“Online business is booming and the time to jump on is now,” the body said.
According to the latest billionaire’s index by Bloomberg, the founder of Amazon Inc, Jeff Bezos in the past three months has added an additional US$24 billion to his Amazon stake, owing to a rapid increase in online sales.
“This is a clear indication of the dynamic nature of doing business and in this light, local businesses should urgently consider e-commerce going forward,” it said.
“Naturally, brands that have a well-equipped and fully functional e-commerce platform are high on the maturity curve and have an advantage over their retarded counterparts who are yet to embrace e-commerce.”
Regrettably, many local businesses do not have such platforms or even websites to generate good business leads, ZimTrade says.
A survey done by Profitero and Kantar exposed that even in developed countries, e-commerce had only been taken seriously by about 17% of organisations who classified themselves as leading competitors in e-commerce, while about 71% are playing catch up.
“Some enterprises are still yet to embrace and harness the power of e-commerce which has had a generally slow uptake. This has been due to strong beliefs on archaic business practices that have long since been phased out globally, as the world has been digitalizing at an unprecedented pace,” it said.
Going forward, ZimTrade said it was evident that if one owns a business they need to be online and have a way to continue to trade regardless of pandemics and lockdowns.
“Expectedly many manually operating businesses have since shut shop involuntarily, thereby deflecting traditional customers to the e-commerce alternative,” the export promotion body said.