Are we at the beginning of Jamaica’s eCommerce BOOM?

Djuvane Browne on

The two biggest drivers of eCommerce are cost & convenience. If shopping online is much more expensive & way less convenient, we shouldn’t expect to see this BOOM in local eCommerce.

We’ve been getting lots of inquiries recently from existing businesses looking to set up eCommerce stores. The momentum is certainly building, but are we ready as a country & a region for what’s coming.

I launched my first eCommerce site in February 2002. My dad is a music producer. I built my parents an online store to help them sell CDs to folks around the world. We didn’t have any local online payment options at the time, so my parents incorporated a company in the US; we received orders & payments online, then packed and shipped products from JA.

When the orders started becoming more frequent, we established a warehouse (my uncle’s garage) in Florida & began fulfilling orders from there instead of shipping from JA each time because the export process was time-consuming & expensive.

19 years later, I can’t say the environment is significantly different. 

If somebody asks me today: what’s the quickest, easiest & most affordable way to sell online from Jamaica? My typical response is: Do you have a US bank account? Are you willing to incorporate a company in the US? Do you want the money settled in Jamaica? 

Why? Because accepting online payments that settle locally is always more complicated, more costly to both setup & maintain. Also, our delivery ecosystem is still immature & not cost-efficient in many cases.

But that’s changingwe’ve made significant strides, but we haven’t made the necessary leaps just yet.

For eCommerce to blow up & for us to actually see widespread adoption in Jamaica, we need more options available for payment, integration & delivery.

The signs point to an upcoming eCommerce Boom.

I believe all signs are pointing to a change that’s coming up & that we’re on the brink of an eCommerce boom. Why? The availability of more options will help to drive cost down & increase convenience.

“The two biggest drivers of eCommerce are cost & convenience. If shopping online is much more expensive & way less convenient, then we shouldn’t expect to see BOOM in eCommerce.”

Payment options

To accept credit card payments online, you need a merchant account or leverage someone else’s merchant account. 

Do you want to use your own merchant account?

This is pretty similar to having a debit/credit card machine in your physical location. It gives you an interface to collect card data, validate & verify the availability of funds, and initiates the transaction to transfer the money from the customer’s card to your bank account. 

For many years it felt like NCB was the only bank offering eCommerce solutions to the market. This is changing as we’ve seen other banks selling eCommerce services into the market, including Sagicor, BNS, First Caribbean & First Global. 

Without applying for a merchant account

Some services allow you to receive credit card payments online without having a merchant account. It’s typically quicker & easier to get up and running with these services. Typically, they’ll process the transaction on your behalf, take their fees then settle the rest in your accounts. We’ve seen more options in the last year popping upthese include WiPay & Q-mall.

Ease of integration 

Previously, getting your eCommerce store connected to a local payment gateway or bank would require custom development. However, there are now integrations available for WooCommerce & Shopify that will make connecting your eCommerce store to NCB, Scotia, or Sagicor painless.

Developing Delivery Ecosystem:

Though still not mature, there’s clear evidence of a rapidly improving the delivery ecosystem that includes many players, including Tara, Knutsford Express, Doorway Couriers. Additionally, there are lots of food ordering & delivery services like Get There, Quick Plate, Hello Foods, 7Krave, Hugo who’ve popped up.

So the race is on. People are investing in eCommerce more than ever before. We can’t wait to see this BOOM transform our economies.

On the customer side: if shopping online is on par, or cheaper than shopping in stores, and of course, more convenient – people will use them. On the business side, if more options continue to become available for payments, integration & delivery, businesses will opt to establish stores. Put it all together, and we’ll see the BOOM…eventually. 

For now, we’ll do our part in building out great eCommerce solutions for businesses that are committed to modernizing their operations by adding digital distribution channels. Are you thinking about launching a new eCommerce store? Schedule a call today to see if we can help.

 

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