A framework to enhance the adoption of e-marketing strategies by Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) retailers in Zimbabwe
For the past five years (2014-2019), Zimbabwe has been experiencing a rapid and fast-growing information, communication and technology (ICT) infrastructure which saw an expansion of broadband fibre network, data and Internet expansion throughout the country. A wide range of Internet infrastructural developments which include the rollout of 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G networks in different areas ensued. The notable attendant effect accompanying the technological developments in both the social and business environments across the world include but is not limited to a rapid consumer transition from traditional to new media. In the business context, especially marketing, the Internet now plays an important role for all enterprises in the way they market their products and services. E-marketing has since opened opportunities and benefits for businesses such as increased access to markets as well as collaboration with international retailers to improve customer satisfaction. Despite this and many other benefits as well as significant developments in the Zimbabwean Internet infrastructure noted above, e-marketing adoption by Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) retailers in Zimbabwe has been slower relative to countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and other developing countries who do have similar or slightly lower Internet infrastructure. Arising here is a pertinent question integral to this thesis: why is there such a low adoption and implementation of e-marketing among the FMCG retailers in Zimbabwe? Understanding this question is necessary in any attempt, as this study aims, to develop strategies to improve e-marketing adoption by FMCG retailers in Zimbabwe. Here, customer perspective remains key in addressing this key question. The study reported in this thesis employed a concurrent mixed method approach to explore the underlying issues regarding the low adoption of e-marketing despite high Internet penetration in Zimbabwe. In-depth interviews with purposely selected ICT managers of selected retail stores throughout the country were conducted concurrently with a questionnaire administration to more than 300 customers of these retail stores. Results show that there are both business and customer related factors that conspire to encumber e-marketing adoption. These factors include customer and managerial attitudes, lack of ICT skills, legal frameworks, and poor road infrastructure. Customer characteristics such as computer literacy, area of residence, gender, and level of education impact customer perceptions in ways that also encumber adoption of e-marketing. Fear of online risks, exploitation, and fraud also affect customer perceptions towards the use of e-marketing. To assist the Zimbabwean FMCG retailers, the thesis proposes a framework that incorporates customer perspective in the development of e-marketing. The framework is premised on three pillars namely: nature and characteristics of the operating environment, factors affecting the adoption and implementation and understanding customer perspective towards e-marketing. The study concludes that online retailers should aim at creating vibrant and sophisticated market places which create value and capture customer’s needs.