These are a few basic things that need to considered when launching your online business. I usually share these with clients who are new to business or new to online business. We usually go through these during the course of building their ecommerce websites to ensure success. Most of these tips will revolve around the end customer. (Remember, without the customer you don’t have a business)
Know your customer
You are going to know the following about your customer:
- What products are your customers interested in? If you don’t know the answer to this then ask yourself this one question: what is a pain point of my customer that I an solve?
- How much are your customers willing to pay? There are some customers who don’t mind spending a little extra for quality or prestige. On the other hand there are other customers who are very price conscious. Which of these is your customer?
- Where is your customer located? Funny enough, many of us consider this point last when ideally it should have been first. Our online businesses can sell to technically anyone across the world, so why consider this point? I’ll get to this in particular later on in the article.
- How can the customer pay you? There are many options available. From Credit cards to PayPal to Cash. You need to know which of these methods is best for the customer.
Which platform is best?
Some of you reading this article can use platforms such as Shopify, Wix or Squarespace. I’ve noticed that even GoDaddy offers an ecommerce package. For us in the Caribbean or for those who need more control over design and functionality, I’ve found that WooCommerce works best. It runs on a selfhosted WordPress installation so therefore set up may be a bit technical for most. Speak With An Expert if you need help with this. We at Pellau Media would be happy to assist.
How would you accept payment?
If you are in the Caribbean then accepting payments from your customers can be a bit tricky. Wipay has made strides in making credit card payments and even cash only payments readily available to small businesses. As of this writing Wipay is available to Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, Jamaica, Guyana and Barbados. There was even a recent partnership deal struck which would allow Wipay clients to accept cash payments in all major cities in the United States (see this article for more info WiPay Caribbean)
Other than Wipay, Paywise.co is launching their credit card gateway very soon. Paywise has been the leader in helping small businesses throughout Trinidad and Tobago to accept cash payments through out the entire country through their network of agents.
PayPal works for us, however there are work arounds which you’d need to do in order to accept payments. I’ll publish a more detailed article on this soon.
Cash/bank transfers may seem old school but they work. Many persons across the Caribbean do not have access to a credit card. Therefore cash still remains king for accepting payments from your customers.
Delivery to your customers
As mentioned, this is sometimes overlooked. Too many small business owners do not consider the experience of the end user when its time to deliver the product. If you truly want to stand out in business then I’d advise you consider this last point.
Businesses in the Caribbean need to consider the final cost of delivery when they are exporting to customers in other countries. A client recently told me she spent $60USD to ship a bikini to her customer in the United States. Imagine that sticker shock both to her and most importantly the customer. $60USD? WOW! FedEx charges some ridiculous rates to ship products out of Trinidad and Tobago. I once spent $1200TTD to ship a small package over to my supplier in China while we were going back and forth developing a prototype. There is an option which will be launching very soon to help with this. I’ll provide more details soon.
Luckily shipping within your own island is usually much more affordable. Depending on which method your customer prefers to pay with, you’ll have options where the delivery company would accept payments on your behalf, you can meet your customer in person or have them pick up. Just remember to make the experience as easy as possible for your customer.
To wrap this article up, my main point throughout is for you to keep the customer top of mind when planning your new business. Make it easy for the customer and you will get repeat customers and even referrals. Keep these points in mind and before you know it your new business would be a success! Starting your own online business may seem daunting but take it one step at a time and most importantly launch!!! We are Pellau Media can help you from as little as $50TTD monthly.