Vodafone Launches VitiKart
Commerce minister Faiyaz Koya yesterday launched Fiji’s first fully fledged online market place.
Vodafone’s VitiKart brings a number of businesses on a single online market place that offers a range of products for consumers.
“Initiatives such as the VitiKart come at a time where the very existence of many businesses is conditional to their ability to break barriers and stay relevant, and ahead of the competition,” Mr Koya said. “When businesses and customers aren’t restricted by logistics such as physical location and time, you have a plethora of opportunities to boost revenue in new ways – in ways we may not have thought.”
Mr Koya called for strategic alliancwes and the need to make the most of what was available.
“And that can only be achieved through forming strategic partnership.”
Move away from cash payment
He said people wanted to move away from cash payment to a smoother and more comfortable experience that digital platform provided. Mr Koya said a recent business survey conducted by the Ministry in collaboration with International Finance Cooperation revealed that eight per cent of non-tourism businesses had set up or expanded online sales in response to the pandemic.
Vodafone’s acting chief executive officer Ronald Prasad said it was imperative that businesses look to new ways of engaging with customers for survival.
He said online e-commerce platforms recorded a 20 per cent debt growth in revenue in the second quarter of 2020.
“The platform provides an end to end purchase to delivery service,” Mr Prasad said.
It allows customers around the country to download the VitiKart app, go online, choose from a range of products and pay the same time. Customers can pay via M-PAiSA, Visa and MasterCard, and have the item delivered to their door.
The first few merchants to sign up included Vodafone, Valuefone, Courts and Cybercity, Tappoos, Prouds and Jack’s Retail.
Mr Prasad said VitiKart drew parallels with eBay, AliExpress and Amazon albeit on a small scale with independent merchants using a common digital platform to offer products directly to consumers. Vodafone’s M-PAiSA payment platform was a convenient zero fee alternative for local purchases, for customers in the rural, remote areas, he said.
“For instance, a person in Kadavu will log onto the VitiKart app, and be able to buy brand new TV, fridge or any other white good from Courts, pay for it using M-PAiSA and have this delivered to Kadavu,” Mr Prasad said.
“Our long term goal is to include the micro entrepreneurs who are selling ‘Fijian Made’ products and wish to access an online platform to reach customers.”
VitiKart can also be accessed by Fijians abroad, Mr Prasad said.
“This opens up a whole new world of opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs without large capital outlays and reduced operating costs,” he said.
The platform allows only pre-approved sellers to trade as a means of maintaining credibility and consumer trust in the platform, Mr Prasad said.
“Customers outside of Fiji could use the service to purchase items for their families in Fiji and have this delivered to their homes,” he said.
Mr Prasad said students have a hands on experience working with the eCommerce platform to understand the way big brands operate their online business.
“The experience they gain would be immensely helpful in their careers,” he said.
“At a time, when many are losing their jobs, this is something positive to offer to the job market and keeping in line with the spirit of entrepreneurship.”
Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme manager Bram Peters called for the expansion of VitiKart within the region.
“We need to look beyond Fijian borders.”
He said the initiative started before the coronavirus outbreak.
The app could not have come at a better time, Mr Peters said.
PFIP supported the where the idea first came up.
Third from left, Vodafone acting chief executive officer Ronald Prasad, Commerce minister Faiyaz Koya, Pacific Financial Inclusion Practice programme manager Bram Peters in a group photo yesterday.
Narayan Choy on his way home after some work on his canefield.