HomeBusinessIlanga Foods boss’s ‘Amazon Zimbabwe’ dream

Ilanga Foods boss’s ‘Amazon Zimbabwe’ dream

Bulawayo-based entrepreneur Kuda Manzanga (KM) recently launched his online store — The Weekend Sale Shop (www.theweekendsale.shop).
Last week, our business reporter Mthandazo Nyoni (MN) sat down with Manzanga to tell us his vision. Here is how their discussion went…

MN: Congratulations for launching your online store. Who is Kuda Manzanga?
KM:
I am the director of a family business called Ilanga Foods.
I have a manufacturing background.
I am a director in multiple businesses, but I like everything online.
So with motivation from a friend, Kuda Musasiwa, I launched my online store on November 20.
It is headquartered here in Bulawayo, with warehouses and distribution centres across the country.
I want to prove that you can make it here in Bulawayo. My first appeal are the people of Bulawayo.

MN: Tell us about the online store.
KM: It specialises in electronic products like televisions, phones, accessories, glasses, computers, laptops, groceries and anything you can think of.
Whenever you launch something, you want to solve a problem.
The problem that exists is that there is no sales culture.
In South Africa, for instance, on month ends there are always special offers.
We said let’s establish a store where every weekend there are special offers.
If something was $20, the price drops to $14 at the weekend.
We deliver anything that you buy, you get it the next day anywhere in Zimbabwe. It’s the “Ecocash of products”, basically.
If you are in the United Kingdom and want to send your loved ones a TV set, all you do is go to our platform and buy the TV and state the address where the TV should go and leave it to us.
The TV will arrive. We have partnered FedEx.
That’s why we are able to do countrywide deliveries.
We have partnered with very powerful players.
We want to give a product to Zimbabweans that Zimbabweans deserve.

MN: Who are you suppliers?
KM: We have approached some retailers and suppliers and said upload your products on our platform, we will handle the delivery for you.
If a shop has got a special on flour, they can approach us.
We will get the market for the flour, provided that the price is fair because in Zimbabwe there is a culture of unfair pricing.
To set the pace, we acquired about
10 000 products of our own so that we lead by example.
We listed these products. Anyone is welcome to apply and list their products on our store and we will do the delivery on their behalf.
It’s an Amazon kind of model. We are encouraging Zimbabweans to purchase online.
We have approached high-profile Zimbabwean brands. You come to the platform on three conditions.
Your product must be available in good quality and must be delivered to our fulfilment centres across the country.
Before we despatch it to the customer, we will pay you first.
There are, however, some items that will take three to six days to be despatched.
If you go to our store it will tell you what is available immediately and what will take days to come.
So in essence, Amazon is doing two days and we are doing three days, we are proud of it.
Our worst case is three to six days and it’s free. With Amazon you pay to be an Amazon prime client, you pay for their delivery.
Here we are offering an all-price product, there are better deals.
You shop from your home, there is no rush, you can return the product if you are not happy.
You can complain on social media if you are not happy. It’s the future.

MN: How safe and secure is your platform?
KM: We are working with Direct Pay Online (DPO), the largest payment gateway in Africa.
So your credit or debit card details are safe. We never handle your credit card details; we never have your information.
All you do is you pay online and we handle the delivery.

MN: Do you have a return policy?
KM: We have got the best return policy in the country.
You can return anything that you purchased within 30 days and we will refund you, you can swap or look for another product.
We are encouraging Zimbabweans to shop online.
There are no issues of change. You don’t have to travel to the shop, which means you save on transport.
We can price the product correctly because there is no need to worry about change, and you get your delivery the next day.
No other charges are factored.

MN: What’s your profit margin?KM: Our profit margins are small averaging 10%.
Some of our products are cheaper than what you can get in South Africa because we buy in bulk.
Our tagline is: “Original brands, attractive prices delivered to your home for free”.
MN: How do you test originality?

KM: We went and bought things ourselves, directly from suppliers.
If you want to list in our store, we have to inspect your product to make sure it’s good quality.
If we don’t do that, our returns will rise and we won’t make a profit.
So it’s never in your best interest to supply something that a customer does not want.
MN: I think expensive data in Zimbabwe will deter consumers.
How much did you invest in this business?

KM: Just to build the platforms cost about US$15 000. That was quite expensive for us.
But the biggest investment was definitely on stock because we wanted to offer convenience.
MN: Why don’t you get a shop and push your products? Why an online store?

KM: I have been asked this question many times, but we want to pioneer the online shop as we genuinely believe it’s more convenient.
It’s convenient for us because we don’t have to worry about stock theft, and it’s convenient for customers.
We don’t have overheads. We don’t have a shop to pay for rent, we don’t have electricity to pay, we don’t have staff and we don’t have stock theft issues, shrinkage issues.
When you purchase the phone, we just take it from the box, we take it to FedEx, and we send it to you.
So that means we are already 50% cheaper than everyone.
MN: Your parting shots?

KM: I am also open to assist anyone who wants to go online.
It might have cost us US$15 000 because we did something complicated, but someone can set up a shop online for as little as US$500.
I am available for those who need assistance in that area.

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