Allow me please to demystify e-commerce in the Caribbean for you, perhaps help you feel more at ease with exploring your options, and ultimately push you off, confidently, in the right direction.
For brevity sake, I’m going to approach it using an example workflow, and show you how the resources I am mentioning work together.
So, John has a hair care product business, which he operates via his limited liability business. Because he has a limited liability business and subsequent business bank account, he is eligible for a merchant account with his local bank. A merchant account is not a new bank account, it just opens John up to commercial options, like a point of sale machine, and e-commerce facilities, etcetera.
Okay, John had a physical store, but Covid-19 has really hampered John’s ability to maintain the level of sales that he is accustomed to, so he is turning to the world wide web instead.
John went about this in a very systematic way. He bought his domain name from Bluehost to make sure that he saved it before someone else got the domain name (web address) that he wanted. He spent less than $20USD to get that. He knew he wanted a secure website so he did some Google searching, and after 2 frustrating weeks drawing connections and doing his own research, he figured out how he could put things together. First he got high-end web hosting, which would give him an SSL certificate and where he could have his website hosted in its own space instead of on a shared hosting account. This cost him less than $300USD, and he got it by clicking HERE.
Thennnn, John went in to his bank to talk with a banking officer. He already has a business bank account, so he signed up for e-commerce. He banks with Republic Bank and the costs attached to setting this up there were: US$100 per merchant per integration – one time setup fee, US$75 per month per merchant and US$0.25 per transaction
Okay, John is almost there. Now, John has to build his website. He hired a web developer, who came with good references, to build him a speedy, good-looking, functional and user-friendly website. Maybe John even hired me, well, look at that. So, John, wanted to get 100 products up and running for sale on his website, so he gave the web developer his thoughts about sites he liked, login access to his domain name and web hosting, then left the web developer to do their thing. The cost of that was $1,350USD, and his web developer used open source (read: free) resources to build his website…like WordPress and WooCommerce.
John also needed to buy a plugin for the integration of his website and the payment gateway that the bank uses. In Trinidad and Tobago, two development companies offer this, Quoviz and WebGold. This cost John less than $300USD. (Note: This is a yearly cost if you want to retain support and updates for the plugin.)
Alternatively, John could even get a handsfree point-of-sale merchant device from his local bank, and use his website as an online catalogue instead, then do cash on delivery letting his customers pay with their debit cards when he delivers. See, there are so many ways to approach this.
John’s developer was super gracious and gave him tutorials and a lot of help to kick him off with understanding how to manage and update his website. So, John is all SET!!!
Have you been at your calculator tabulating?! Did you realize that John has only spent $1,970USD so far, and his monthly costs will be less than $100USD. His yearly costs will be approximately $620USD. Isn’t this all far less than having a physical store?! All John has to do now is spend money on marketing/advertising costs and storage space since his customers pay their own shipping/delivery costs.
NOTE: The information herein, specifically relates to the Trinidad and Tobago banking system, however this workflow or conceptual roadmap of setting up an e-commerce website is a global baseline.