By Chido Chikuni

The world has been transformed into a global village with goods and services just a click away. This year, Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Consumer Day, under the theme: ‘Building a digital world that consumers trust’. Since the world is now a global village, it is pertinent for consumers to adapt to the new era of digital marketing and communications.

Imperative to note is that consumer confidence and trust are central to the success of the digital economy. The rapid development of digital technology has delivered social and economic benefits for millions of consumers around the world. It has connected people within and between countries as well as enabling them to easily access information, services, product of their choice and convenience in ways that could not be imagined a generation ago.

Use of plastic money is one of the digital ways that consumers should adopt and trust. Due to cash challenges being currently faced in the country, it is wiser for local consumers to adapt to these changing times. Use of plastic money is one of the safest and most convenient ways that most countries in the western world have adopted with success.

As rightly noted by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers board member in charge of marketing, Mr Alois Burutsa during commemorations of World Consumer Day recently, retailers should be urged to embrace digital payment platforms.  Use of Point of Sale (POS) machines in shops is the most efficient way that businesses have to adopt. Almost all banks in the country facilitate their clients with Credit cards, the moment their accounts become active. With the use plastic money, transacting will become so simple; hence consumers in rural areas should also be encouraged to also have these credit cards.

Network providers have also come up with innovative mobile payments like Ecocash, Telecash and One Wallet that enable clients to make financial transactions, like sending and receiving money through their mobile phones as well as paying for goods and services. These services have also contributed in lessening the burden of cash constrains.

It can be argued that the world that has been contracted into a village by these electronic technologies and instantaneous movement of information from one point to the other. The internet has changed customer shopping habits and with rapid technological developments accessing the internet has become easier than ever. People can now access the internet whenever and wherever they like.

Internet marketing is important because it aligns with the way consumers make purchasing decisions. For instance, consumers can make instant comparisons of the products they wish to purchase through the internet. One of the consumer’s rights is the right to choose. Instead of having to visit a number of different retail outlets, consumers can simply open different internet websites to compare prices or features of the products they wish to purchase.

Internet marketing keeps consumers abreast with ever changing trends. Through internet, consumers seek and consume information of available consumer goods faster than ever. Also, consumers can do online shopping for the whole day, unlike traditional shopping where most shops are closed by night. Internet shopping offers a 24 hour customer care service to the consumers. This is an advantage for consumers as they can shop anytime which suits them and in the comfort of their homes.

In the event that price of goods changes or if there are any product promotions being offered by shop owners, normally the changes are effected on website instantly. Thus, online shopping will enable consumers to select and purchase goods on promotion without necessarily going through a number of shops.

Additionally, internet marketing enables customers to create their own accounts online, allowing them to save details about any transactions that would have taken place. Consumers will also be able to make their payment online which will save their time and the hustles of moving up and down. Most consumers who have adopted online payments of goods and services are finding it very easy and convenient. Harare City Council and ZESA have introduced online payment of water and electricity bills. Online payments have substituted long queues that consumers normally complain of at banking halls. Accordingly, through globalisation, consumers have been brought closer to their service providers.

Zimbabwe will benefit immensely if its populace adapt to the digital technologies for the ease of doing business.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation