Today’s article is brought to you by the letter ‘E.’
Now, depending on your age, the above line is either a popular Sesame Street reference, or a TikTok.
Either way, today the ‘E’- stands for Electronic, as in e-commerce. E-Commerce simply refers to the process of buying and selling goods, products, or services over the internet.
E-commerce isn’t an obscure Road March that you might forget in a couple years. It is definitely here to stay. Understanding customer needs is the first step to ensuring that your business – and profits – stands out.
Let’s focus on the pros and cons of this type of transaction, but from the perspective of the consumer. The customer is always right, right? What’s the mindset and attitude — the general vibe — of the Caribbean consumer where e-commerce is concerned?
Oh YEAHHH! ✔
- Variety, variety, variety — Wider range of just about everything from types of products and services to delivery options, consumers have a dizzying array of choices of styles, materials, manufacturers, and more options than ever before.
- Ease – ‘Click, Click, Check-Out’ has a much better vibe to it than ‘Wait for a maxi, Drop out too far, Walk back’ – Pressure! 💻
- Quicker Cost Comparison – Gone are the days of walking from store to store in search of a bargain, then, having to sheepishly come right back to Keisha from the first store! Save time! (And face!)
- Cost-Effective – Customers are already paying for their internet, so it’s just a matter of using a tool they already have more effectively and efficiently.
- Different Customer Experience – Customers, especially Caribbean ones, relish that “hands on” experience when shopping, so that may be a drawback. There may be that hesitancy to buy “cat in bag.”
- Limited Customer Service – It’s all smiles and smooth sailing for e-commerce transactions until there is an issue that makes the “Let meh talk to ah person” alarm go off.
- Key Words are the Key – Keyword Optimization is like shelf placement on the aisle of a supermarket for consumers. They may only see what they are guided to see, and not necessarily what is best suited for them.
- Wait times – “Yuh mean is so long I hadda wait for something I already pay for?” Especially for a time-sensitive purchase, the wait time between check-out and delivery can be a major deterrent.
Last but certainly not least– as a matter of fact, some would argue that what follows is one of the most important points on the “Naaahh!” list– drum roll, please…🥁
- Extremely limited access to credit cards 💳 (and US funds💵 ) in the first place. From the average Caribbean consumer’s p.o.v., then, regardless of the level of choice or the newly available options e-commerce presents, it’s more like no plastic money, no actual honey.
Since we are all consumers in some way, surely we can relate to several aspects of both sides of the argument. But what about those of us providing the goods and services that will be consumed — that is to say the entrepreneurs, freelancers and side hustlers?
In future articles, we’ll explore not only the pros and cons to those of us doing business here in the Caribbean but also expand on the consequences of limited e-commerce options in the age of E-everything.