Unless you've been asleep at the switch, you already know about the global shift that's happening with e-commerce. Thanks to the pandemic, the evolving role of technology, and the rise of "social media influencer" culture, more and more consumers are now shopping online.
Locally, citizens are very familiar with foreign online retailers like Amazon, Sephora, Fashion Nova, Etsy, and PrettyLittleThing. Skybox companies like Websource and Aeropost deliver hundreds of products to Trinbagonians across the country every single week.
Traditional brick-and-mortar stores can hardly compete with their reduced working hours, the threat of constant lockdowns, and state of emergencies. In Trinidad and Tobago alone, it has been estimated that over 6,000 businesses won't survive the current economic crises exacerbated by the pandemic.
Thus, It is of critical importance that every single company, whether they sell a physical product or a service, develop a digital strategy immediately, and seek to set up shop online.
In this article, you will learn how to take your business online using the world's leading e-commerce platform (and my personal favorite website development tool) Shopify.
For a step-by-step tutorial on how to get started selling with Shopify, check out the infographic below.
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One of the greatest challenges that local companies who want to transition to e-commerce have dealt with for a very long time is getting paid in $TTD currency. Until recently, if you had an online store, the only way you could have accepted payments from customers was by using a third-party payment gateway like Paypal.
And to use Paypal, you would have had to have a credit card issued in Trinidad and Tobago or a U.S. bank account. This also means that the prices of the products listed on your website had to be $USD.
For businesses with a strictly local clientele, this would have proven a significant challenge when it came to providing an estimate of the $TTD prices for customers, as the USD-TTD rate fluctuates daily. In addition to that, the vast majority of citizens in Trinidad & Tobago still do not have access to credit cards, and therefore cannot easily shop online.
Therefore, having alternative payment methods such as cash on delivery and bank deposits is important if Trinbagonian retailers want to succeed online.
Thankfully, Shopify gives you the freedom and flexibility to showcase your products' prices in $TTD, and set up multiple payment methods. You can set your store's currency to $TTD in settings, and offer manual payment methods in addition to Paypal - although I don't recommend using Paypal unless you have a U.S bank account at this time. Read this blog post to learn why.
Once you've set up your payments, you'll want to partner with a reliable courier service that will deliver products to your customers and accepts payments from them. There are many couriers you can choose from, but my absolute favorite is Concierge Express. It's female-owned and operated, and its customer service is out of this world.
Concierge Express will accept cash (in small amounts), and Linx payments on your behalf, then deposit the money into your local bank account. My advice would be to instruct your customers to pay using Linx only, as it's a safer option for all of the parties involved.
After you've built your new Shopify website, selected one of their monthly plans, and worked out all of the logistics, it's time to launch. You will need to develop a compelling social media campaign to get the word out about your business, drive traffic to your website, and get your first sale.
There are 3 things I recommend that you do:
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