Starting an E-Commerce Website in Trinidad & Tobago, Part 4: Is Trinidad & Tobago ready?
Love me or hate me for you’re going to groan that it took up to Part 4 of this E-Commerce in Trinidad & Tobago series to address this question- and after all the detailed explanations about setting up an online shop to boot! The worst part is…the answer is NOOOO!!!
Whoa! Did you just read that correctly? Yes I know, it’s sad but true and I’ll hasten to add that this is my OPINION but it’s still based on feedback, observations and my impressions from where I sit as a web designer and as a shopper. I’ll also hasten to add that this is not to discourage but to reveal how to use this information to work for you and not against you as there is potential for this market but if and only if done right.
I have a mantra I chant to all my clients (well not actually chant for that would be scary and weird), that there are two kinds of businesses in Trinidad & Tobago:
- “I have a plan company”
- “ Ah trying a ting company”
I don’t need to explain that do I? Almost 70% of visits to ForwardMultimedia.Com enter via search engines (mainly Google T&T) and about half of those visitors were searching with some E-Commerce related keyword. Many of them landed on this article series of course looking for answers about the local e-commerce process. Why? Because they believe there’s money to be made.
Why the Trini shopper isn’t ready
Here are my observations on why not:
- There are not many e-commerce websites generally in T&T to choose from
- Of the e-commerce sites that exist, they’re very poorly done and don’t entice shopping
- The type of products being sold are not what shoppers prefer to buy
- The prices are the same as the store when it should be cheaper
- Shoppers have little confidence in the reliability of the merchant
- They’re skeptical and paranoid about using their credit card online fearing fraud
- Shoppers have little or no confidence in the merchant’s customer service for the general attitude of T&T merchants is that customers can to go to hell after they get their money
- Many don’t ship so what’s the point?
Why the Trini Online Retailer isn’t ready
Here are my observations on why not:
- Many have good ideas but no real plan except to wing it and ‘try a ting’
- Those who have a real plan don’t have the financing to launch it
- Those who think they have a real plan don’t
- Many don’t know what is required to establish an online site
- Many only see dollar signs and the customer is way out of view
When both Trini shopper and Trini online retailer will be ready
When there is a local site that operates EXACTLY like one in the US and this is when:
- The seller invests in a well designed e-commerce site which in reality is not that expensive, around $6,000 TT. Here is what one would look like (it’s being used in catalog mode): PCClinic.Com.
- The seller finally gets the concept that all a fancy ‘e-commerce site’ does is let the customer pay online and simply CREATES AN ORDER. It’s no different from the customer phoning in the order saying that they deposited the money directly to your bank account; it’s just another order that has to be fulfilled.
- Prices are either cheaper than at a store or works out to be the same as the store price after delivery is added.
- YOU DELIVER to the customers home/office- figure out the logistics of how and you’ll make money
- You convince customers that you’re a bona fide, legitimate business and it’s the truth
- You display a recognized SSL Certificate certifying your website is secure and you use a credible payment processor
- You offer alternative offline payment options
- You make customer service your #1 priority. Do this and you won’t need to advertise after you launch, EVER!
- You find out what your customers want, get it and give it to them.
That’s the long and short of it and that’s my opinion. From where I’m sitting, the person who does this well from the get-go, stays patient and steady for 2 years will rule the online market while actually making money.