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CEDA’s latest workshop to help SMEs.

The Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) hosted “Build Your eCommerce Store From Scratch” on the 19th of February 2021. Here are our latest tips and takeaways from the workshop by our Communications Assistant, Bernice Antoine.

As the economy continues to be influenced by many internal and external factors, one fact holds true: Digitalization is the future. Small business owners must wake up to the reality that technology is a viable option in their business. Processes from customer acquisition to data generation can all be automated and accessed anywhere. In the 21st century, a brick and mortar business is not necessary, eCommerce gives business owners to service a global community.

With the aim to empower small and medium-sized businesses to utilize eCommerce to its fullest capacity, CEDA featured Alaa Hassan, founder of eCommerce Training Academy. Alaa showed viewers how to build a Shopify store, step by step.

Before he began, Alaa delved into what he considered the e-commerce essentials:

  1. Have a plan to hold yourself accountable
  2. Prepare your business information (name, address, contact information)
  3. Create a brand identify
  4. Gather a list of products you intend to sell
  5. Plan payment methods & shipping options – local shipping methods
  6. Prepare customer service support

He admitted that many entrepreneurs are often overly excited about eCommerce but fail to follow through. For this, the wise saying, ‘A goal without a plan and a deadline is just a wish’ rings true.

Now, here is his four-step process for building an e-commerce store:

  1. Creating store
  • Create a store on Shopify (Use free trial)
  • Configure the general information of your store by inputting information
  • Configure shipping options – Can offer local delivery
  • Expand to other areas/local pickup

2. Design and Add Product

  • Create an About page
  • Create a Help Page
  • Create A contact page
  • Create a navigation
  • Design home page collection using graphics created by Canva

3. Prepare your store for digital marketing

  • Configure store description and social sharing
  • Start a blog to increase traffic to the store
  • Add Google analytics
  • Run Google Ads
  • Add facebook n Instagram
  • Add email marketing (Klaviyo)
  • Optimize for SEO

4. Test store

  • Do giveaway
  • Announce on social media

Whether online or in-person, business owners still need to focus on differentiating themselves from the competition. Gilbert Williams, CEO and founder of Ethniv Inc. offered customer engagement strategies. 

Communicate before and after purchase

Customers value clear communication lines and especially value business owners that take the time to ‘’humanize’ them. This emphasizes to customers that you care, and they are not another number to you. Gilbert even suggests using those opportunities to offer different services.

Products of Value – partner with NGOs and local organizations

There has been an upheaval in the number of socially conscious consumers. Now, consumers want to know that businesses have a purpose ‘beyond the buck”. That they are willing to support local organizations and stand up against social issues.

Socially responsible products

Another trend is the idea of ‘sustainable packaging’. Caribbean business should lead in this concept given that most of our countries are small island developing states and climate change has a disastrous effect on us. Consumers want to know that they are not adding to the problem by supporting your business.

Bring consumption closer to production

Business owners should consider sourcing locally or regionally to maintain the authenticity of the region’s uniqueness. A branding point could be the fact that everything was sourced locally. According to Gilbert, for certain products characteristic to the Caribbean, saying it was all locally made improves its perception.

Creating money within the region

The Caribbean can be more interdependent on each other. Gilbert explained that the economy of one country can be the primary producer for another. This way, earnings are maintained in our region so that we can achieve advancement.

All the business lessons and more will be available on the Caribbean Export YouTube channel: TheCaribbeanExport – YouTube