Please forgive the long delay, but I wanted to actually have something to update you on. I have decided to share with your what the experience has been like, so far, and some things to be cognizant of if you're considering making a foray into ecommerce Jamaican style.
As I mentioned in my first blog entry, I had always wanted to do business online; yet, it took me a while to decide on, or rather, come up with a viable product. Of all the things that came to mind, market produce was not one of them. But judging from the enthusiastic feedback and support I have been receiving, I think I'm onto something.
About three weeks ago I received an order from a name that should have rung a bell; but I've been so consumed with pushing the business forward that very few things outside of my family are allowed to distract me or enjoy any of my coveted attention. When I arrived at the client’s residence to deliver the items, we immediately recognized each other as former work colleagues. He was rather impressed with the initiative, paid his bill and gave me a few tips he believed would aid in my success. This made me smile, as he's one of the many customers, so far, who has been rooting for my success! Thank you for your three orders in one week Mr. you-know-who-you-are!
I shared that story because I want to highlight that there are many people out there rooting for Jamaica’s success as well as that of local small businesses. So many other persons have expressed their support and eagerness to see me succeed, and have commended me on what they believe is a novel idea. But, if I’m being truly honest, my idea is not so novel, considering that at least one other company in Jamaica does something similar to what my business does―I did not know this until a few weeks ago. Truth is, outside of Jamaica, just about anything can be purchased online. Unfortunately, much of the infrastructure that has made ecommerce so successful in other jurisdiction is either limited or non-existent in Jamaica.
So, if you’re looking to start an online business in Jamaica, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Online payment options can be a drag. Credit card penetration/usage is not that high in Jamaica, even with at least two banks offering Visa Debit cards.
- People in Jamaica seem to be even more skeptical of making online payments to local businesses. There seems to be a major trust deficit that we must overcome if our business environment is to improve.
- Transportation/delivery is expensive!
- People can be very judgmental. I was disappointed at how many people were critical of others who have no problems with ordering market produce online. At least three of my Facebook commenters have suggested that patrons of my business are lazy or “wutless” for shopping online! Go figure :-/
- You must deliver…literally. People are skeptical about this whole online shopping thing. But they will “try you out,” just to see if you’re for real. Hence, It’s so important to make a good first impression!
- You can do this! Despite all the challenges I have experienced so far, the positives far exceed the negatives, and with creativity, you can find a way to get around the shortfalls in the supporting local ecommerce infrastructure.
I expect that as more people take the plunge into ecommerce, the supporting infrastructure will be put in place. I strongly believe that this platform has the potential to significantly change the local business landscape and has great potential for economic spinoffs. I am excited about this prospect and hope to be a part of it.
‘Til next time .