SHOPCaribe director Roxanne Colthrust said local entrepreneurs must explore opportunities in e-commerce to grow their businesses during and after the covid19 pandemic. She expressed this opinion during a webinar hosted by the Trade and Industry Ministry on Friday.
Colthrust explained that her business focuses on Caribbean-made products, specifically art and craft, fashion and beauty products. She said since last June, during the height of the pandemic, ShopCaribe's website has received 185,000 visitors, looking for Caribbean made products to buy.
By joining ShopCaribe's online platform, Colthrust said, vendors benefit from access to national and international markets and wider revenue streams.
"Each vendor gets their own e-store."
She also said through ShopCaribe's partnership with international courier service DHL, vendors have the opportunity for their products to be exported to countries like the United States, Italy, Australia, Guyana and Jamaica.
With more businesses increasing their use of digital services, Colthrust opined that local entrepreneurs who venture into this area are the ones who can best help Trinidad and Tobago's economic growth.
"This is the group of people who will turn the economy around."
On its website, ShopCaribe said, "In this post-covid reality, many medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) in the Caribbean have been negatively affected." The company added, "We believe that now, more than ever digital platforms and ecommerce are critical elements of any business which has intentions of exporting."
ShupHub director Roana Maraj said, "We are playing catchup."
Maraj observed that many foreign business entities have been doing business successfully online, long before the pandemic. She agreed with Colthrust about opportunities for local entrepreneurs by signing on to online platforms.
"We have to be able to pivot in the industry. We have to be the change at this time."
Maraj disclosed that vendors can register free of charge at ShupHub and begin to conduct business immediately.
She described ShupHub as an online mall where customers can go online to shop for whatever products they want. Cleaning and sanitising products, laptops and electronics, toys and grocery items are some of the products which can be purchased on ShupHub.
Maraj said the company allows credit card, debit card, cash or cheque on delivery, among its payment options to customers.
Quikbox CEO Nirvan Benimadho said the company has put down "the brick and mortar" for a successful online platform.
Quikbox is an online ecommerce platform which deals with commodities such as fashion (clothes/shoes), electronics, home appliances, books, furniture, jewellery and sports equipment.
Benimado said Quikbox allows vendors to create a digital identity on its platform. Although curbside delivery is currently prohibited under the public health regulations, Benimado said it was one of the options customers could use to receive the products they purchased online at Quikbox.
Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon congratulated them on their respective successes to date.
"I urge all firms with the desire to go online or for those already online wishing to expand, to closely examine your business models and consider how these, or other available platforms, can maximise your reach and profitability."