I recently went into a shop that sells good quality clothes. Thing is I don’t go for shopping. I will go 5 years without buying a clothing item just because I don’t like going shop by shop looking for clothes.
Then it hit me.
Why not make an app for this? For lazy people like me to do their clothes shopping online?
Then it hit me again.
My girlfriend’s WhatsApp has close to 30 groups of people who sell clothes in there (I don’t like them because they might hide a chat from a blesser or someone she’s cheating with when I am doing my daily check ups on her phone.) Add to that, the use of Facebook Marketplace.
And just like that, the Zimbabwean Amazon died before it went anywhere.
And if you think about it, there are WhatsApp groups for everything, not just clothes. Food, cars, books, movies (ehm ehm). In first world countries, there are separate apps for each category.
Just for food in first world countries, Chicken Inn, Nandos and kwaMereki would have their own separate food ordering apps. No wonder there are more jobs there than here.
Everything is in WhatsApp. So as a developer trying to remove people from WhatsApp, natural question to ask is “why?” Why is everything aggregated in WhatsApp groups?
To state the obvious…
It’s convenient. Simply that. I already have a WhatsApp bundle to stalk my relative’s status updates who recently left Zimbabwe and isn’t sending money back home but is going on holidays to what’s it called, Bhali, Balie? So why not just look for clothes in the same app by just joining groups?
Data is expensive?
A few years ago, you would have convinced me that it was because data is expensive and people just buy WhatsApp bundles. Which is still true to some extent. It’s more likely for someone to have a WhatsApp bundle and not a data bundle in Zimbabwe. But I don’t buy this reason completely.
The number of people now using Instagram and more ubiquitously, TikTok, makes me think that of course, not everyone has money for data bundles, but if someone is using their data for TikTok, they have probably 5mb to spare for using a different app.
Granted the number of people who use TikTok in Zimbabwe, is still low compared to the total population but I suppose with time, they will increase. Which lead me to…
I don’t know what the solution is for developers to pull the population away from WhatsApp to their apps but something tells me that with time and as more and more people are digitally connected in Zimbabwe, this is likely to change. Because for all their merit, WhatsApp groups are limited.
There is a lot of spam eating into your device memory. You can’t really search for a product and of course, payment systems. It’s a hassle that I suppose people in Zimbabwe in a few years will be ready to eliminate.
But what do you think? Are there any actionable steps to pull people away from WhatsApp groups towards using dedicated apps or websites? Because WhatsApp really is a developer’s enemy and developers need to fight against it.
P.S: I do not have a girlfriend. Neither would I do daily checkups on her phone. I hope…