The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Buyers, Sellers Get Online Trading Experience

ONLINE BUSINESSES are said to be accelerating in Africa thanks to tremendous rise in Internet penetration all over the continent.

With good infrastructure in place, such as the 4G Internet that Rwanda will soon have, businesses and individuals have no reason not to grab the opportunities that are abound.

Building an online shop and presence is described as a great way of reaching out to many customers all over the country and region.

For very long, the only online experience we had was looking out for something online (amazon and ebay), asking someone with a credit card to buy it, then ask a friend coming from abroad to bring it with them as they return back to Rwanda. That is changing as more online marketplaces come on board.

Today, among some others, we have the kaymu.rw, an online marketplace that offers sellers new opportunities and a secure and user friendly platform to bring their own business online.

The platform offers a cost effective and simple way for sellers to create their own free online store where products such as mobile phones, computers, beauty, home and much more can be sold to buyers. It is available for everyone, from electronic store owners to individual sellers wanting to create a business or sell an item.

The platform not only provides a selling platform but enables sellers to manage their inventors, transactions, sale processes and communication with their customers.

Josian Uwitonze, who owns a shop in T2000 and has her items on Kaymu, attributed her recent increased customer base to the online presence she got from Kaymu.

"I got interested in joining Kaymu even though there was a fee to pay because I felt that it would help my business. People got to know about it and now I am seated in the shop and I get orders online from all over the country,"

Uwitonze says with her online presence, she operates as if she has shops everywhere in this country.

Once users have accessed the site and registered their details they can start listing products straight away. When listing an item, they have the choice to mention product details such as the condition, make, model, type, size or even photos. There is also the option of making the product an auction listing or a fixed price option.

Auction listings allow buyers to bid until the listing has ended and the fixed price listings allows buyers to purchase the product without bidding just to pay the price that is displayed.

Fiona Mulisa is a full time employee and is enrolled in a Master's degree class, which is very time consuming.

"With online buying, I no longer have to physically go window shopping, I can do that on my desk and then wait for the product to be delivered or I go for it myself since the address is stated," she said.

A month ago she had a wedding and didn't have a bag to match with her dress. She just logged onto kaymu and got what she wanted in minutes.

There is a lot we can sell and buy online and save a lot of time and no sellers need physical shops.

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HOW TO WORK ONLINE MARKET WORK SUCCESSFULLY:

ONLINE TRADING is a reality, but just how much planning does one need to make it work without a hitch?

Payment system

It's no secret that a credit card isn't a payment option for many Rwandans. Limiting the payment to that is already kicking out a big portion of the client base. mVisa (Mobile Visa) that was launched by Visa is a very great option and integrating mobile money would also be a great one to have.

Keep it simple

Yes, you may have the greatest designers and they feel like they want to over design a site with things like flash animation, unnecessary large graphics which end up slowing down the performance and speed of your site. Instead make sure your design is well organised and your shop is easily navigable.

Excellent customer service

Every visitor on the site is a potential client and is a potential source of income. You can never know how many much they will buy from the site or the free publicity you will get as a result of this single visit.

Make sure that anyone that visits the site is treated like a king. Apply the "Customer is King" rule.

Social engagement

Facebook and twitter have permitted free online marketing. It's also smart to look into that and build a strong social presence. Opening a blog with frequent updates about your brand is a good way for customers to engage in your business.

Encourage returning customers

Clients that come back are the ones that usually stick. They will tell your business over the mountains. Set up a discount for them and keep them looped in with new products.

Clear marketing strategy

What is created for Western world isn't always going to work for Rwanda or East Africa. When you get your site up, have a clear marketing strategy and make sure you know which customers you are targeting and what region is your market.

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