Over the years entrepreneurs have gained increased access to tools and mechanisms that can thrust their businesses forward. One that has been around for a while but has become more popularised in recent times is the tool of e-commerce or electronic commerce. This is allowing businesses to take their services and products to a wider cross section of customers via the internet.
E-commerce can be defined as an online marketplace where there is buying and selling of products or services through electronic networks. E-commerce provides for the exchange between business to business, consumer to consumer, business to consumer as well as consumer to business. This landscape is vast and no longer monopolised by giants such as Amazon and eBay, as smaller businesses have now entered the arena.
The pandemic caused this tool to be utilised far more for businesses as individuals spent most of their time at home and thus online. The Jamaican market is ripe for buying online with access to electronic devices and internet availability being on an upward trend. According to the International Trade Administration “the last census conducted in 2017 found that 35% of Jamaicans have access to computers and 84% of households have access to mobile devices.”
Many large companies such as GraceKennedy and Seprod took more advantage of e-commerce by creating a digital strategy that includes online purchasing for their customers. While small businesses locally continued to leverage social media platforms by creating online stores.
Benefits and Strategy
There are many benefits to be derived from using e-commerce as a small business owner. These include but are not limited to increased reach, faster buying process, increased revenue, low operational costs, builds online presence and flexibility for customers.
There are however important considerations to make as the online space is highly saturated. A strategy specifically designed for your business online is incredibly vital. It should include consideration of audience, medium and niche. According to Forbes, it is important to focus on creativity, “creativity makes you stand out from others in your space, successful brands usually tell a story. Great e-commerce companies succeed because people like them enough to buy their products.” Additionally, an e-commerce strategy must include consideration of a strong team dedicated to building out this part of your business or at least a skilled individual that you can delegate to. The strategy must also include focus on what makes you different in the online space as well as who is the right audience for your product or service.
JBDC’s Things Jamaican™ retail store
The Jamaica Business Development Corporation’s (JBDC), Things Jamaican™ brand is a great example of how Jamaicans and the government are helping entrepreneurs leverage e-commerce.
Janine Taylor, Manager of the Marketing Services Unit at JBDC says, “The primary emphasis of this marketing related service is to devise strategies that support various levels of market access that clients journey through.” The Things Jamaican™ stores are located at Devon House, Norman Manley International Airport and the JBDC’s Corporate Office at 14 Camp Road in Kingston. Customers can also shop on the e-commerce website which boasts over 2000 authentic Jamaican products at https://thingsjamaicanshopping.com/.
All products speak to an authentic Jamaican experience. The stores offer a collection of products influenced by Jamaican music, culture and history. The range of products covers 8 main categories – Aromatherapy, Entertainment, Fashion, Fashion Accessories, Food, Home Accents, Packages and souvenirs. Emphasis is placed on products suited to vacationers, travellers and locals who want a unique “piece of Jamaica”.
Entrepreneurs can take their businesses to the next level as they explore the world of e-commerce. They must consider their place in this space and strategically enter this aspect of business, so they can leverage it for the best of their small business.