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The Zoobashop story

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The Zoobashop story

Ghana is going digital. As Ghanaians embrace the new technologies, businesses are seizing the opportunities. Zoobashop is one of the pioneer companies retailing products online, and its founder Albert Biga spoke to Stephen Williams about the business.

Ghana is about to embark on a transformation of its technology sector. The government has granted three licences to three different companies to roll out 4G telecoms services, allowing for ultrafast internet. This is anticipated to herald an explosion in both PCs and, more importantly, hand-held devices that will access web-based information, products and services.

Already riding this wave, and prepared to grow with this trend, is Zoobashop. Speaking in Accra, Ghana, the company’s founder, Albert Biga, told New African Markets how it all started. “I have 15 years’ background working in information technology, 10 years of which was in developing software. I was a co-founder, with Herman Chinnery Hesse, in setting up SOFTtribe, before working for Intel Corporation for four and a half years. I then dabbled in a couple of things before settling on Zoobashop to invest my money.”

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Zoobashop’s business model is simple. As Biga explains: “One of the things I realised was that Ghanaians didn’t have the kind of platform, a tech platform, to allow people to buy merchandise online, so we set up Zoobashop.com.

“It is, I believe, unique in this country as it is an online retail site, not a market place. We are not the kind of platform like eBay that allows buyers and sellers to meet. We are basically a store, like a retail store, but totally online.”

The company chooses the merchandise it sells, and then handles the transactions, for refunds, returns, and warranties. “We initially started in December 2013, building credibility in the market place, and within four months we were holding something like one to one and a half million cedis ($30,000–$45,000) of stock.

“The intention was, over time, to build our reputation and then invite manufacturers to extend stock on consignment. It was also in preparation for launching our 80,000 square foot fulfillment centre and warehouse that would allow this to happen. We moved into the new facility last July. Our new strategy is basically to take stock consignment.”

However, Biga is quick to point out that Zoobashop, like any retailer, must take care of any problem that the customer has. In a marketplace site, that process is less defined, as it is simply a technological enabler. That’s one of Zoobashop’s unique selling points (USPs).

Biga lists the other USPs. “It is cheaper for customers, as we avoid the cost of running a physical store; our overheads are much lower and we pass on those savings to customers.

“We also do a seven-day return, so if you are unhappy with the merchandise, or change your mind, you can get your money back, no questions asked. And we do cash on delivery (COD), which is very popular.”

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