By Style Reporter
The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic and measures that come along in trying to contain the scourge has popularised online shopping in Zimbabwe.
While online shopping had grown in popularity globally, particularly in developing countries, it took a pandemic for third world countries, Zimbabwe included, to embrace buying items via the internet or smartphones.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa imposed a lockdown on March 30 in order to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in the country. Although shops that sell food were exempted from the lockdown, many families were confined to indoors.
One of the most enticing factors about online shopping, particularly during the lockdown, is that it reduces chances of transmission of the virus.
Ingenious entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe have welcomed the opportunity with open hands.
Young Harare businessman Prince Suberi has taken the bull by the horns through his online grocery shop, Globvil, a subsidiary of Globvil Holdings Private Limited.
He said business had been brisk since the introduction of the lockdown.
“Business had been very low during our first months of operation and I attribute that to a lot of factors, chief being the lack of trust by customers. You know it is always difficult to pay for goods to a person whom you don’t know, more so, whom you talk to over the phone,” Suberi, who is the company’s operations manager, said.
“However, we have gained a competitive advantage by differentiating our business from other competitors through commitment to do good work and we invested a great deal of time in building a diverse network.
“The lockdown has presented us with an opportunity as more and more people are getting in touch. We are doing business for both local and diaspora clients.
“Zimbabweans have embraced online shopping as evidenced by the brisk business that we experienced in the last two months.”
Globvil, which has a staff complement of 10 full-time employees and 30 part-time drivers, delivers goods across the length and breadth of the country, reaching even to remote areas.
While many small businesses have failed or missed opportunities because they lack the capacity to meet client requirements, Globvil has tried to go the extra mile and source goods in South Africa.
“We have some clients who need groceries from South Africa and others, who opt for locally-manufactured items. We try to balance the two and we go out there and source, thanks to our diverse network,” Suberi said.
“Just like any other businesses, we have to be creative and find ways of satisfying our customers. “Our success hinges on our commitment to do good work and valuing consistency, which we are doing.”
Globvil Holdings Private Limited was established in March 2019 and the online shop, which uses the WhatsApp and Facebook platforms and website, has also won the hearts of the diasporans.
“We have been working with a lot of people in the diaspora and lately our local clientele has increased. We hope to spread and decentralise our operations by opening branches in other cities locally,” Suberi said.
“In the future we are looking at exploiting foreign markets and turn our business into a multi-seller reaching everyone around the continent and possibly globally.”
However, Suberi pointed out some limitations.
“Just like any other business, we have challenges. Goods can be scarce, especially some local items are not readily available,” he said.
“Use of the internet and smartphones is hindered by the high cost of data, which affects our business locally. Fuel sometimes is a challenge, but during these lockdown days the commodity is available.”
Suberi said he would make sure that their clients count on always having the same experience when they deal with their company.