Despite the potential benefits of e-commerce for consumer well-being and the opportunities for diversification of national economies, myriad challenges remain for the use of ICT in developing countries. Developing countries need to improve consumer access to ICT technologies. A major obstacle to inclusive e-commerce in developed countries is the general lack of consumer confidence in e-commerce platforms, as well as border security concerns.
Electronic commerce as a medium for consumers in developing countries such as Zambia is growing rapidly due to the increasing availability of Internet access and the unprecedented choice of goods and services. The main advantage of e-commerce is the ability of consumers to reach global markets.
With increasing change in the retail industry, a trend driven by technology and access to the internet, consumers can now access most stores and brands via online platforms. This gives entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to expand new opportunities to market their products and services on major international markets. According to Aseize Cross-Border Opportunities, customer service, customer experience and price are the three most important ways an e-commerce retailer can stand out from the competition and take advantage of the same opportunities as global giants.
It is important for a company to know and understand who is buying its products in order to meet the needs of consumers. Small businesses need to focus on their strengths, build expertise and establish services to continue to grow and expand their market.
According to Zambia’s Vice-President Inonge Wina, improvements in telecommunications have come to the aid of COVID 19 era and widespread use of e-commerce has increased business operations to sustain the economy. In fact, retailers have found that their sales have increased as they offer online purchases alongside their traditional business.
In the area of trade facilitation and logistics, the Zambian government has developed a national addressing system to improve trade logistics and last mile delivery through national postal policy. She added that it is such programs that created opportunities for automating customs clearance and extending the use of the technological updates foreseen in COMESA digital free trade zone.
The Information and Communication Technologies Act, No. 15 of 2009, regulates information and communication technologies in order to facilitate the access to information and communication technologies and to protect rights and interests of service providers and consumers, provided nothing is related to or related to the aforementioned.
In 2009, Zambia introduced a national information and communication technology (ICT) policy to regulate the country’s telecommunications sector. Information and Communication Technology Act 15 of 2009 repealed the 1994 Telecommunications Act and the 1994 Radio Communications Act, which governed ICT operations in Zambia. Zambian government has focused on building communication towers in the field of ICT infrastructure and services while expanding the mobile network coverage to 92% of the population.
While most transactions relate to utilities, retail and consumer platforms include the website of the Zambia Revenue Authority, which pays domestic taxes, customs services, the National Pension Scheme Authority and the Patent Company Register Office.
Zoona, an electronic transfer service that allows consumers to send and receive money in Zambia, is also very popular. Customer Service 360 deals with hybrid e-commerce platforms that operate both online and offline. Tesco does not offer this, but users will be able to buy products online and have quick access to apps such as Hungry and WeChat to order meals in restaurants in different parts of the country.
They believe that low prices, high quality products, convenience and time-saving offers will get them into business and keep them loyal to their target market. 360 deals signed up for business in December 2015 and spent most of 2016 doing market research to validate business viability, compliance procedures and research in website design and fundamentals. The first batch was sold in the first week after a fruitful business relationship in which an Australian company closed a physical store and online sales went well.
Mweshi’s greatest skill he has brought to the business is customer service. An added benefit is that after-sales services, such as e-Tesco and e-commerce, allow conversations with customers via chats to provide a healthy shopping experience.
Mweshi mentioned to the e-commerce industry in Zambia that the most pressing issue is the high cost of Internet data and its lack of availability on the outskirts of Lusaka. Doing business in Zambia is not easy unless you have the time as a business owner to build your brand. I took the time to look at the number of companies which operate and reviews on most Facebook pages were negative.
As demand in the tourism industry plummeted, Voyagers Zambia, a travel agency that is part of a group that provides travel, safari, insurance, brokerage and car rental services, developed an online platform to sell travel products. The director of Voyagers, Grant Gatchell, said that the measures to support tourism limited travel agencies and forced the company to turn away from car rental and transportation to offer new products and services.
Coppernet Solutions’ operations manager Thomas Musaluke said Zambia needed e-commerce for the marketing, delivery and procurement of goods and services so that people could conduct business through e-commerce in the country. He added that Coppernets, along with other selected banks in the country, is one of the companies offering this service.