Do you really need an eCommerce website in the Caribbean?

These two questions always come to mind when I’m talking to a new prospect who don’t exactly see the need for an eCommerce website. They always ask some variation of this question or the other. So let me get to the answer. The short answer is YES! Read on for the why.

eCommerce in the Caribbean is a different beast compared to “first world” countries. This is where I’ve seen many businesses go wrong. They assume selling online in this part of the world is the same process as other countries. The reality is that selling online in these parts is a bit different. The infrastructure simply doesn’t allow for it.

Now, even though things are different, it doesn’t mean your business doesn’t need eCommerce or can’t benefit from it. We can simply adapt our websites to make it easy for locals to shop online. We will need to adapt the way we accept payments and our delivery methods.

Let’s begin with payments.

The number one thing to remember is that credit card penetration is extremely low in the Caribbean. This is so even in the more “developed” countries such as Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. Some may have debit cards, but it’s still limited to a small segment of the total population. What makes matters worst is that some countries have limited the amount of USD available on the cards. We need an alternative to credit cards.

There are few options throughout the Caribbean that work, the main one being WiPay. If your business is registered in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica or Barbados then you are in luck. If not then I’ll explain other options below. WiPay allows your business to accept credit cards online, but they also have a cash voucher solution in place to allow your customer to pay you without a credit card. The funds are deposited into your WiPay account and then can be withdrawn to a bank account in your business’ name.

Another payment solution is Paywise which allows businesses to accept credit cards as well as a cash solution. Paywise accepts the transaction for you and deposits the funds into your business bank account within 24 hours. As of this writing, this solution only works in Trinidad and Tobago.

I mentioned those two before just to get them out of the way. If you plan to do any real business in the region then you must allow for cash on delivery, debit card on delivery or something similar. The majority of customers are not going to have a Visa or Mastercard available for instant purchases at the moment. I’ve seen too many businesses fail because they don’t realise this. It may sound weird to even say it out loud. People don’t have credit cards in this day and age? How is that even possible? Well reality check, it is possible and it is the reality. So deal with it and let’s make some sales! Luckily there are delivery companies who know this is a real issue and have solutions in place.

So what about delivery?

As mentioned above, some delivery services have launched cash on delivery solutions. There are way too many to mention them for the entire Caribbean region so you’d have to do some research on this matter. Pick one which has a price which is affordable to the end customer. Check out how they go about billing you. Some offer a flat rate, some charge a percentage. Good news for you is there are enough of these companies that you’d find one which matches your business model.

What platform do I use?

For now, WordPress and Woocommerce are your best bet. Shopify, Wix, Squarespace etc are all good platforms but do not cater very well to the Caribbean. What is needed is an eCommerce platform that has customisation options for our region as well as integration options for local payment solutions. Woocommerce has just that and because it runs on WordPress you can be sure to customise everything. To be honest I’ve been using WordPress on clients’ websites since before eCommerce was even an option because of the ease for my clients to edit their websites on their own without the need to code or ask for my assistance most of the time.

Now I won’t be myself without making a sales pitch to you. I would like to help your business to sell online. Pellau Media works with every clients’ budget, no matter how small or large it is. So visit the Speak With An Expert page and fill out your info and either myself or one of my team members will reach out to you.

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