Connecting Local SMEs to e-Commerce: the Simxas Story

The GlobeNewswire reports that the global e-commerce market is expected to grow from $2,837.76 billion in 2022 to $3,183.16 billion in 2023 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.2% 1.

Other trend and industry watchers like Forbes Advisor have projected a 10.4 percent growth in e-commerce sales. It again projects that by 2026, all retail purchases would take place online.

This shows a future of a steady upward trend with no signs of decline 3

In Africa, e-commerce has been growing rapidly in recent years and is expected to continue to grow.

Trade.gov, projects that Africa will surpass half a billion e-commerce users by 2025.

Take a peek at some more highlights from an article on Business Insider:

  • Number of downloads and installation of e-commerce apps on Android and iOS grew by 55% and 32%, respectively.
  • Jumia, Takealot, Konga, Kilimall, Souq, and Jiji are Africa’s top six ecommerce sites. Meanwhile, Nigeria has the highest number of visits to Jumia.

Is all well and good?

Despite the huge growth in e-commerce, both in Africa and across the world, many small and medium enterprises, particularly in Ghana, still have difficulty accessing the opportunities available through e-commerce. 

There are a few questions that continue to run through the minds of many SME owners who may want to subscribe to the large e-commerce sites available. 

Simxas, local innovations to local problems

A team of young Ghanaians, realising the gaping hole in the e-commerce sector decided to launch an online marketplace that directly addresses the concerns of local businesses and clients in search of locally produced budget-friendly local products. 

Simxas was developed to address the challenges faced by local businesses in expanding their reach and allow them to compete with bigger businesses on bigger e-commerce platforms. The platform levels the playing field for (SMEs) by providing them tools and exposure to reach a broader customer base. 

Creators of Simxas hope to make the app an e-commerce accessible and affordable. 

Simxas caters to consumers searching for a range of regionally made goods and promotions. It also caters to international vendors and users, community-focused consumers who favour local businesses, budget-conscious people searching for deals, environmentally conscious consumers who prefer eco-friendly online shopping, and socially conscious consumers interested in local events and interactions. Simxas offers a user-friendly shopping experience while serving a diversified consumer base by facilitating the connection between local sellers and a broad spectrum of potential customers.

For Simon Asare-Asante, Jonah Atiim Atiibawom, Daniel Asare Baffuor, Michael Kodjo Nyagasi, creators of the trading platform, Simax is hinged on 5 major principles:

  • Empowering Local Vendors: Simxas was founded with a commitment to supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs. Creators believe that small and local businesses are the backbone of any community, and they deserve a platform that helps them thrive in the digital age. 
  • Filling a Gap: Creators realised that there was a significant gap between global e-commerce giants and local vendors. Many small businesses struggle to compete in the digital marketplace. Simxas was created to bridge this gap and provide local vendors with an accessible, user-friendly, and cost-effective platform to showcase their products. 
  • Innovation and User-centric Approach: Creators say Simxas is more than just a marketplace; it’s a reflection of their commitment to innovation. They say they were inspired to create a platform that is not only easy for vendors to use but also provides an exceptional shopping experience for customers.
  • Community and Sustainability: The vision for Simxas extends beyond commerce. The team is dedicated to fostering a sense of community and sustainability. By providing vendors with the tools and exposure they need to grow, Simax contributes to the economic development of local communities. 
  • Personal Experience: Creators of the platform explained that his own experiences as an entrepreneur have played a pivotal role in shaping Simxas. Mr. Atiim Atiibawom faced the challenges of starting and running a business and wanted to create a platform that simplifies this journey for others. He thoroughly understands the trials and triumphs of entrepreneurship, which drives him to make Simxas a platform that truly supports vendors. 

Challenges

Managing a complex feature set, assuring scalability, securely integrating third-party services, giving user data security top priority, improving user experience across devices, optimising performance, adhering to regulatory requirements, meeting resource constraints like team size and budget, and more were among the difficulties encountered during the development of Simxas. There were also other obstacles to overcome, such as encouraging user uptake, marketing effectively, and competing in a difficult e-commerce environment. Simxas took nine (9) to twelve (12) months to develop. The platform was officially launched in October 2021

Key Features: 

SIMXAS” E-commerce platform features provide a robust shopping experience for users and they include: 

  • Product Listings: The ability to display products with details, images, and pricing. Search and Filters: Search functionality and filters to help users find products quickly.
  • Shopping Cart: A cart to add and manage selected items for purchase. 
  • Checkout and Payment: Secure and easy checkout processes with multiple payment options. 
  • User Accounts: User registration and profiles for managing orders and personal information. 
  • Product Reviews and Ratings: User-generated reviews and ratings for products. Inventory Management: Tools to track and manage product availability. 
  • Order History: Access to past order details and tracking. 
  • Shipping and Delivery: Information about shipping methods, costs, and delivery times.
  • Wishlist: A feature allowing users to save items for future purchase. 
  • Security: SSL encryption and secure payment processing for data protection. 
  • Responsive Design: Ensuring the website works well on different devices. User 
  • Support: Access to customer support and FAQs. 
  • Return and Refund Policies: Clear guidelines for product returns and refunds. Product Recommendations: Suggesting related or recommended products to users. Promotions and Discounts: Offering discounts, coupons, and promotions. Social Sharing: Allowing users to share products on social media. 
  • Multilingual and Currency Support: Catering to an international audience with multiple languages and currencies. 
  • Product Categories: Organising products into categories for easier browsing. Analytics: Tools to track website traffic, sales, and user behaviour. 
  • Managerial Panel: A back-end interface for managing products, orders, and user data. 
  • Content Management: The ability to update and manage website content, such as blogs or news. 
  • Email Notifications: Automated emails for order confirmations, shipping updates, and promotions 
  • User Reviews: Allowing users to leave reviews and ratings for products 
  • User Feedback: A mechanism for collecting user feedback and improving the platform. 

Unique features and user experience

Sellers benefit from tools like staff management, enabling them to assign tasks and customise roles, and delivery flexibility, allowing them to manage their own delivery staff or engage delivery agencies. 

Additionally, sellers can post job advertisements, facilitating business growth, and communicate directly with customers via chat, enhancing engagement and customer service. 

The platform also offers seamless payment methods, allowing sellers to link mobile money or bank accounts for efficient transactions and the freedom to set customised policies aligned with their business goals. Sellers can further boost their marketing efforts through the creation of personalised promotional coupons and social media integration, linking platforms like Facebook and Instagram directly from Simxas. 

Real-time product tracking ensures sellers can monitor delivery progress and provide accurate updates to customers, enhancing transparency. Additionally, Simxas supports affiliate marketing, enabling sellers to expand their reach and increase sales, while location settings offer flexibility in defining delivery areas. 

Buyers, on the other hand, benefit from these features by enjoying an enhanced and convenient shopping experience. The platform’s user-friendly interface, coupled with transparent communication channels and personalised services, creates a satisfying environment for shoppers. Simxas fosters engagement and trust between sellers and buyers, ultimately resulting in a mutually beneficial e-commerce ecosystem where both parties thrive.

Simxas, as a platform, is easy to use and intuitive for everyone by combining the convenience of online purchasing with the personalised touch of brick-and-mortar stores. It provided individualised service, strong security protocols, and interesting features like social sharing and user ratings. Simxas placed a strong emphasis on accessibility for all users and inclusivity. The platform sought to offer a seamless, pleasurable, and safe buying experience, fostering a sense of community and value among users, all while emphasising speed, customer assistance, and community building.

Design Inspiration

The Simxas platform was designed with a user-centred design philosophy in mind. The key was simplicity and consistency, which promoted familiarity and intuitive navigation. In order to promote inclusion, accessibility features were included, and user contact was improved by prompt feedback and responsiveness. For effective navigation, the platform used visual hierarchy principles and gave priority to mobile responsiveness. Improvements were made possible by ongoing user feedback loops, and users were given confidence by the beautiful design that was tempered with necessary security precautions. These ideas came together to create Simxas, an easy, approachable, and fulfilling e-commerce platform that is secure, visually appealing, and focused on the needs of its consumers.

Monetisation and Business model: 

The Simxas platform incorporates featured listings and non-intrusive ad placements to help vendors generate enough sales and revenue.

In addition, Simxas has built an affiliate marketing feature that enhances customer and vendor involvement in sharing Simxas with others to help achieve the vision and mission.

Simxas uses premium subscriptions to improve vendor, customer, and delivery service engagement in managing maintenance expenses.

Future Plans

“We envision the Simxas app/ platform playing an increasingly central role in the market as a go to platform for both shoppers and local vendors. Our goal is to continue expanding our offerings, enhancing user experiences, and fostering a strong sense of community. We see Simxas as a catalyst for supporting local businesses and connecting users with the products and services they need.”

“In the future, we aim to further diversify our vendor base, creating a dynamic marketplace with a wide range of offerings. We will also be exploring innovative technologies and features to make the app even more user-friendly and accommodating to users’ evolving needs.”

“Additionally, we anticipate strengthening our presence in different regions and countries, enabling users to discover local gems and foster connections beyond their current geographical boundaries.”

“Ultimately, we see the Simxas app as a trusted companion for both shoppers and vendors, promoting a vibrant local economy and offering a seamless and enjoyable shopping experience for all. We are excited about the journey ahead and look forward to shaping the future of e- commerce through Simxas,” Mr. Atiim Atiibawom said when he spoke to techpreneurinside.com.

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