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I have to begin this by admitting that I have not always been a supporter of local but over the years that has changed. I am now a firm believer in supporting local because I understand what it can do for our economy.
With my newly found interest of shopping local and being lazy to go out, I tend to shop online or via social media and chat apps. I am hoping to turn my entire wardrobe to 100% local, it’s an expensive exercise and it will take me some time but I will get there.
Many local brands sell their products over social media or instant messaging apps and accept payments electronically, usually by EFT and then use courier services to deliver the products. Is that not e-commerce? A lot of local brand owners doubt the power of e-commerce yet they are already using it. They are just using the more manual and inconvenient type of e-commerce but it is still ecommerce and it is very alive and active in South Africa.
I guess this segment of the market goes unnoticed and unmeasured because there is no real way of measuring?
In my quest to support local I found an opportunity to do some quick research.
Let’s call it “Chat Apps vs Small business”
In the past year, I bought products from multiple brands via WhatsApp and each time I had a short conversation about what I wanted, made the payment, sent the proof of payment and then told them I would collect the products myself to which they all agreed.
I left the products uncollected some for 2 months, others 3 months and so forth. Not a single brand contacted me during that period. This was not a test of integrity. I trust all the brands I bought from. My test was to make some finding about how chat applications may or may not affect small businesses.
So there are a few problems that I found. There are no systems in place to track orders, no accounting and most likely no systems to track inventory. Secondly, businesses are not leveraging on their existing customers. The opportunity to get customer feedback is missed. There are no resources or businesses cannot afford resources that will allow them to scale.
Chat apps have tools that businesses can use to label their customers. This is ok if you have a few customers that you need to communicate with. The issue arises when your customer base begins to grow. How do you now manage all this communication?
I am not saying social media and chat apps are not the way to sell, I am just saying there are better ways. There are integrations and there are dedicated websites that one can use.
Whatever you choose, make sure you can resell to your existing customers. Get feedback from customers who actually own your product and if these process can be autonomous, even better.
Afro Nala was built to solve many of these problems and we are on track to reach our goals.
- Delivery fees
When shopping for local brands, customers always have to pay multiple delivery fees.
Our shopping platform allows customers to buy directly from multiple brands and pay a single delivery fee. We collect the stock directly from the brands shop, business premises, home warehouse etc. None of the brand’s stock is held up by us and existing shops can be used as distribution centres to keep stock flowing.
- Order and stock tracking
All brands get access to our top class dashboard to manage their brand. The dashboard gives brands access to reports, inventory management and order management. Each brand also gets a personalized page with the brand logo, banner, social media accounts, brand story and all products.
Convenience shops exist for a reason. Customers love the convenience of finding everything in one place while being able to save a few bucks. That why our platforms aims to house multiple 100% local brands for the customers convenience.
- Customer Relations
Our platform allows us to manage the customer relationship. We will offer customers specialized discounts and offers based on their shopping preferences. Our platform offers far superior technology than a chat application will for the purpose of running an ecoomerce business.
- Dedicated Platform
Our platform was built with local brands in mind. Most of our processes are automated living little room for error. Out store is been designed to be both elegant and easy to use. Our platform is secure and we use multiple industry trusted payment gateways.
Brand that are interested in joining our marketplace can contact us via heita @ afronala .co.za or for more info visit https://afronala.co.za/become-a-vendor/