BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

ZIMBABWE’S export promotion body ZimTrade is set to launch an online store, Shop@Zim, a platform that will enhance engagement of local companies with international buyers as well as improve the visibility of locally produced products and services.

With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the organisation said it was critical for businesses to have a strong online presence as conventional means of trading, particularly physical engagement between buyers and exporters had been affected.

Thus, to assist companies in reaching more markets through online platforms and as a response to COVID-19, the body has developed Shop@Zim, one of the technology-centred solutions that will increase the visibility of local exporters, particularly small businesses.

“The goal of the store is to be the one-stop shop for authentic Zimbabwean products obtained at source,” ZimTrade said.

“ZimTrade’s online store seeks to be the nurturing, umbrella incubator for all Zimbabwean exports online, capitalising on the already known and reputable name that it bears as the nation’s trade development and promotion body,” it said.

Shop@Zim is expected to provide an alternative access to markets where physical trade fairs and exhibitions have been suspended.

For local companies, ZimTrade said the platform would create more ways of generating foreign currency and harness the benefits of the digital economy for corporate level and national level economic growth.

“It will provide Zimbabwean companies with a medium to reach export markets without being limited by border closures and travel bans,” it said.

“Currently, the platform has been designed to facilitate business-to-business engagements between local exporters and international buyers. Plans are to expand the platform so that it accommodates the purchase of commodities, including product units, by the end users.”

Undoubtedly, global markets are fast moving towards online transactions and the current environment has created more opportunities for businesses with online business solutions.

According to the latest billionaire’s index from Bloomberg, the founder of Amazon Inc, Jeff Bezos in the past six months has added an additional US$26 billion to his Amazon stake, owing to a rapid increase in online sales.

DDI Development Company statistics state that: “There were over 1,9 billion global digital buyers worldwide in 2018 and predictions suggest that 2,14 billion people will buy goods and services online by 2021”.

“This is a clear indication of the dynamic nature of doing business since COVID-19 and a reason for Zimbabwean businesses to engage through Shop@Zim,” ZimTrade said.

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