Social commerce refers to using social media and other online media to help the buying and selling of products and services. In short, social commerce helps one to run their business online. Currently, the world is blooming with social commerce and many small businesses across the globe are using social commerce for growing their business. In such a situation, one might ask whether Zimbabwe is embracing social commerce or not.
The Scope Of Social Commerce In Zimbabwe
In Zimbabwe, social commerce is limited to its urban centers. Zimbabwe uses social media platforms like WhatsApp which the business owners of Zimbabwe use for making financial transactions. Also, many small business owners update their WhatsApp Status to increase their brand awareness. Currently, Zimbabwe is not using social commerce widely. It is because the internet penetration in the country is low and it is approximately 52 percent. However, with investment in expanding the broadband connection, there is a possibility that social commerce will increase in the coming years in Zimbabwe. However, that being said, 96% of the commercial transactions in the country that take place are through smartphones. Owing to the Sad Status of cash shortages in the country, payment through electronic devices has become a new trend.
Social Commerce Amidst Pandemic
In Zimbabwe, amidst the pandemic, business owners of Zimbabwe have started using social commerce to keep their customers updated and maintain social connections with the customers. However, the physical forefront still holds prime importance in Zimbabwe but along with that, social commerce is also developing a robust presence in the country. Many new brands have shifted to digital platforms to sell their products and services from the physical space.
The growth of social commerce in Zimbabwe took place in such a way that people started using different social media platforms for consuming content and then along the way, they started recognizing how people across the globe are using these social media platforms to grow their business and then, they started doing the same.
Social media platforms in the current times is a very important tool that allows one to work on their brand recognition and further connect with the customers in a new way. Social commerce has become a new retail storefront. With just a few steps, it is possible via social media to reach many potential customers.
As internet penetration is low in Zimbabwe, the scope of growth of social commerce is high in the country. As internet penetration increases in the country, the growth of social commerce will take place in Zimbabwe in multiple folds. Social commerce has particularly benefited small scale businesses as it gives them the freedom to overcome the geographical obstacles to connect to customers, merchants and producers. The mobile revolution in Zimbabwe can be attributed to the growth of social commerce. In ZImbabwe, the most popular platform is WhatsApp and it is followed by Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
During the pandemic, business owners who have shifted to social commerce for running their business noticed a growth in the business. Many business owners realized that their businesses are performing better after they marked their presence on social media platforms.
Is Social Commerce Cheap?
Unfortunately, social commerce in Zimbabwe is not cheap. The cost of data is high in Zimbabwe. Another issue with social commerce is that one needs to invest in advertising, marketing and selling the products to reach more potential customers. Also, the data required to run social commerce is huge. In addition to that, another problem that the users are facing while working with social commerce is power cuts. While facing power cuts, it becomes difficult to run the business smoothly and the businesses start facing disruption.
According to the Inclusive Internet Index 2020, Zimbabwe ranks 99th in terms of internet affordability. The reason for it includes underinvestment in the communications infrastructure. The same holds true for most of the South African countries. It will take some time to improve the communications infrastructure in Zimbabwe. Monica Mutsvangwa, Information Minister in a statement said that in Zimbabwe, the use of social media for businesses has increased and digital adaptation of Zimbabwe has improved and it has become a part of the new normal. Owing to the new normal, the government of Zimbabwe has also started supporting digital innovation in the country. The Zimbabwean government is committed to providing a safe environment for businesses to grow in a digital way.