Tanzania is a great market for online businesses
Given Tanzania’s current economic climate, more people should start online businesses. You see, one of the biggest challenges of starting a business in Tanzania is lacking enough capital. Wages are generally low and the cost of living in business centres like Dar es Salaam is high, making saving almost impossible and a very slow way to gain enough capital for a project.
Moreover, while the bank lending system has improved in the past decade, interest rates for bank loans are still high (between 15 to +20% on average) and often require loanees to have a minimum of 20% of the money needed for their business already. All this, coupled with the reduced circulation of money in the economy due to the government’s enforcement of corporate taxes and crack down on corruption, can prevent people with great ideas from starting a business.
Tanzanians are quick to adapt to new technologies
On the other hand, not only is internet penetration steadily growing in Tanzania, but the number of people with access to mobile phones is rapidly increasing. More Tanzanians than ever before are relying on digital devices on a day-to-day basis to communicate, get information, and make decisions. And while Tanzania itself may not be the most competitive market for technological innovation, its people are quick to adopt new technological practices, like finding and buying products online.
So, instead of spending money on renting a store and hiring staff to help you manage it, you can use the little capital you have to promote your products online. However, building and maintaining a functional and user-friendly website for your business can be considerably costly, especially, if your business is relatively new and you want to test the potential success of your products before you make a huge investment.
Luckily, in Tanzania, there are platforms that offer businesses solutions to advertise and promote products online. These include e-commerce and online marketplaces like ZoomTanzania, which features products ranging from fashion items, electronics, to agricultural equipment from different sellers, be it, individuals, small businesses, or big brands.
But before you make the jump and start selling products online, what can you gain from your online business apart from lower operational costs?
Doing business online can be incredibly profitable
Well, selling products online gives you access to more potential customers than you would have in a physical store. For instance, ZoomTanzania has over 40,000 daily visits to its website, and many of these users may be looking for the type of products you are selling. Moreover, some sites like Zoom help businesses target customers by offering them premium packages that enable their products to have maximum visibility on relevant pages. So, if you are selling kitchen items, your business and/or products have the opportunity to be the first thing people see in the home and living section of the website. This could mean that hundreds if not thousands of people will encounter your products every day, which is unlikely for a newly-established brick and mortar store.
And what guarantees that people in Tanzania will continue to purchase products online?
First thing is the convenience, you don’t have to leave your house when you are shopping for products online. You can find what you like, contact the seller, and have them deliver the product to you (unless it’s real estate).
Another benefit of finding products online is that buyers can compare prices across different sellers and brands, and easily find the best item for value and cost – without having to physically visit multiple stores and deal with Dar es Salaam’s heat, lack of parking, and other inconveniences.
All in all, people will continue to shop online because it saves them time and is an effective way of finding high-value products quickly. This is why platforms like ZoomTanzania have over 125,000 registered members.
However, there are some challenges to selling products online
Some people are not comfortable with purchasing things online and are fearful of scams. Though well established online marketplaces tend to take great measures in ensuring the safety of their users, it can’t be fully guaranteed. Luckily platforms like Zoom have good working relationships with the police, who offer assistance when scams occur.
Furthermore, while internet bundles are increasingly affordable, some people still don’t want to use their data for anything more than WhatsApp, Facebook, and checking their emails. However, the reality is that searching for products online does not use a lot of data (if you have a bundle) and is cheaper than taking a bus or using fuel to drive to a store location.
And lastly, people in Tanzania have a wide-range of choice due to the existence of informal markets and sellers. For instance, if you want a new fire extinguisher for your car, you can purchase one from a street vendor during rush hour, your local garage, a shop etc. So, depending on the type of item you are selling, it can be hard for your online businesses to compete with these informal markets.
The future of business in Tanzania is online
As mentioned before, there are many barriers to entry for people interested in starting businesses in Tanzania, especially given the current economic environment, where there is a lot of uncertainty in the market and low circulation of money. However, the internet can offer a solution to those who are eager to start their business but have little capital. To effectively sell on platforms like Zoom, all you need is your products, a phone to take pictures, and some capital to pay an affordable fee to advertise your goods. So if you are thinking of starting to sell commodities, don’t hesitate, just do it online.