HARARE – It’s a Saturday and shops close early on the weekends in Zimbabwe. So there is an issue here in my town, no mega malls and WESTGATE mall is no longer the hub of retail economic activity.
So, the typical response elsewhere in the world is ONLINE SHOPPING, technocrats believe technology will..” change the world, make it a better place”.
But, in Zimbabwe it has not caught on as much for online shops that have started. For example eCloset263.com, Shashiko.com, Chicstreet.co.zw – BUT Facebook Page Online shopping, seems to be growing in popularity as well. With pages like Wisteria Lane starting physical shops for clients
A quick survey on my page, showed that department stores are a popular choice for shopping and boutiques as well. Surprisingly, no-one has said they have clothing custom-made by their tailor.
Now another group of people who think Zimbabweans are primitive, slow, technophobes are under the impression that ONLINE SHOPPING has not caught on in Zimbabwe. For reasons like wanting to touch and feel clothing.
So What’s the deal with ONLINE SHOPPING IN ZIMBABWE
My opinion of the whole digital retail in Zimbabwe is this, I think there lacks sufficient research and customisation to the Zimbabwean crowd. While I am not going to give free consulting advice on my blog, I think I can give a background of the issues I face for online shopping in Zimbabwe.
In South Africa I was in a small town, but managed to buy a lot of good clothing and shoes online on Zando.co.za, Style36.co.za (Now merged to Spree.co.za), Mellissa Shoes and a Facebook page Clothe Her by Charlie Rose vintage thrift by a student.
Now, here are a few of the issues I have when it comes to ZIMBABWE prices.
STOCK is very predictable,
For example an online store will sell printed dresses of similar styles and shapes, that are available at cheaper alternatives. Now why pay double the price of the same dress ONLINE, when it costs half that price at the flea market. People want to look different and not like another person’s clone.
Consumers have options and choices, in this economy saving money is important. Also think about fashion as a way to merge into society. Mini dresses and extremely high shoes are not kombi/pavement friendly
CHECKOUT process difficult,
Yeah, this is always a problem, I can sometimes add to a cart as a guest shopper and just never return to make a purchase. I want to pay, so my impulsive buying is stopped.
SIZES ARE NOT STANDARDISED
An inconvenient policy is difficult. Because some sizes in shops differ from each other. A size 34 in Edgars will never fit me, but a 34 in Truworths can squeeze a ME in them. With curvy, pear shapes, slim figures in Zimbabwe, it is difficult to buy Zimbabwean independent shops as a result of not knowing how big a S, M, L and number sizes (UK size, SA size, AUS size, US size or Zimbabwe size).
But to add to that is an inconvenient expensive return policy.
THE ECONOMY, accept the reality
From the quick survey, department stores credit system means consumers can buy clothes on account and pay later. Now online sellers and Facebook pages cannot beat that deal, yes lay-byes are not convenient. (Why leave my money with someone and leave the shop without my purchase).
So NO, Zimbabweans are capable of online shopping. Just that we need to be ensure we get
- value for money, affordable and NO differential prices for BIGGER sizes
- easy purchase mechanisms
- clothing that is of great fashion value, sure it is not excessively flooded in the market ALSO guaranteed quality with properly manufactured clothes, do not customers for granted.
- AND better websites that are easy to use on various devices and load on slow internet