Are you in the diaspora and want to buy hardware and cement for your Zimbabwean building project? Here is some good news for you, there is no longer any need to send money directly to your untrustworthy relatives, friends and contractors. You can now buy whatever you need online from Union Hardware as the popular hardware store now has an online store.

It might seem strange to be gushing over a mere online store. I am sure those in the diaspora are used to the deed of online shopping and they have dozens of apps and stores at their beck and call day and night. Things are a little different in the teapot shaped country thanks to the problems one has to solve in order to open an online store. We now have a couple of dozen grocery shops available thanks to the pandemic which made it possible for such services to thrive but the hardware sector is a little different. There are barely any online stores in the hardware game.

Thankfully things seem to be changing as the example of Union Hardware shows. There is tentative evidence that this is not an isolated development and things are improving. The Zimbabwe eCommerce landscape has vastly improved compared to a couple of years ago. Before the pandemic only a few adventurous establishments would bother to have an online store but now everyone is jostling to build their own online store and we now have a growing number of popular mainstream online stores. It’s not even a mystery why this is happening. Zimbabwe’s Diaspora is an important part of the economy as it sends a whopping US$1.4 billion in remittences to the country each year. Everyone is staking their claim as domestic business has dried up thanks to the latest economic woes.

About Union hardware’s online shop

We did take a tour around Union Hardware’s online shop and it works as advertised. The store is built using WordPress and WooCommerce both popular online technologies. One thing you should be aware of is that the site is a bit slow sometimes which points to some hosting issues but we were able to visit the site during off-peak hours when most diasporans are likely to be active due to timezone differences.

Union Hardware is using DPO Groups payment solutions to accept Visa and MasterCard payments on their website. As already hinted on, accepting payments is the number one eCommerce hurdle in Zimbabwe thanks to sanctions imposed by the United States and her allies not many Fintechs will touch Zimbabwean companies. Thankfully thanks to DPO you can pay for your cement and other building materials using Visa/MasterCard no matter where you live in the world.

If you are a local who for some reason does not have a MasterCard/Visa Card there is no need to fret. You can pay for your order using cash on delivery. This is a popular local way of making payments but in my experience, it is not fraught with risk. While companies priorities confirmed orders that have been paid for, sometimes they simply ignore orders marked cash on delivery as they are sometimes swamped with bogus orders.

Other online hardware stores

Union Hardware’s entrance to the market is notable because they are already an impressive brick and mortar business that is easy to trust but they are not the pioneers we have made them out to be above. There are already other online hardware stores although some of them are names you might not have had of.

  • Zimbabwe Building Materials Suppliers (ZBMS)
  • Vaka.co.zw these guys are awesome. They have a presence in a lot of countries where there is a sizeable Zimbabwean diaspora presence and their prices are quite reasonable too.
  • Electrosales are a well known local alternative to Union Hardware and they already have a thriving brick and mortar business. Unfortunately you get only a fraction of their hardware selection
  • Halsted is another local high end hardware player with a huge physical presence. They too have an online store although again this is smaller than what they offer in their stores

Missed a store? Feel free to contact us via WhatsApp, Email and Comments.

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