Small businesses must make more use of the possibilities of E-Commerce
WILLEMSTAD - Electronic-Commerce, E-Commerce, is increasingly the way enterprises conduct business with consumers, governments, and between themselves. It can serve as a driver of economic growth, including facilitate trade and job creation. It can also function as a catalyst for transitioning trade transactions involving Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) from informal to the formal sector and from domestic to international markets.
E-Commerce regards the purchase and sale of both domestic and cross-border products and services, conducted over computer networks (general), such as the Internet (specific), using any one of the various devices available today, such as desktops, tablets, and smart phones. It mainly refers to commercial transactions among businesses (B2B), E-Business; between businesses and consumers (B2C), E-Tail; and among consumers (C2C). Orders placed or received by telephone, fax or normal mail are excluded. Payment and delivery may be handled off- or on-line.
Enabling factors such as good Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and transport connectivity infrastructure, legal and regulatory frameworks and modern e-commerce and payment solutions are critical for the successful exploitation of the opportunities offered by the potential of online commerce.
As of 2015, the global retail sales including in-store and internet purchases was about $22.5 trillion, up 5.6% from 2014, and is projected at about $23 trillion in 2016, and $26 trillion by 2018.
The global E-Commerce B2C market was about $1.671 trillion last year (2015), $1.18 trillion (to-date), expected $1.922 trillion (2016), and is projected to be up to $2.356 trillion by 2018.
Due to its recognized status as a financial center for over 70 years, with its multilingual and highly educated workforce, favorable tax regime, business friendly ‘E-Zone’ legislation, advanced telecommunication infrastructure, and sophisticated business environment, Curaçao does provide an attractive value proposition to E-Commerce enterprises looking to locate in the Americas region. Yet today Curaçao is still an emerging market within the wider Caribbean market, with regards to leveraging E-Commerce as a driver for economic growth.
The Curaçao Business Census 2014 is very indicative of the current state of E-Commerce activities from Curaçao: 70% of businesses surveyed have internet connection, yet only 4% offer online shopping and payment. Thus most local businesses do E-Commerce, more so for purchasing, very minimally for offering and selling products and services to the global market.
One of the important challenges, a major hurdle, has been the ability for an MSME to receive credit card payments from their E-Commerce website that is deposited directly into their local bank account.
Having the ability to receive payments is a major step to enable the MSME sector members to setup or take an existing business into a global market and more effectively grow the business, no longer restricted to the whims of a small market.
The other important challenge is that most MSME business owners are not yet aware or convinced of the economic benefits of E-Commerce, for instance: access to a bigger market, enabling more effective target marketing, access to the right customers. Some of the sectors that are growing at the moment leveraging E-Commerce are the small automotive stores that sell aftermarket parts and accessories and those that offer fashion original jewelry and accessories.
Several efforts are in progress to further facilitate the development of E-Commerce in Curaçao. These efforts however are not from a holistic or systemic approach focused on facilitating E-Commerce growth. Existing initiatives predominately address discrete sectoral areas of E-Commerce, for example: broadband adoption, trade facilitation, ICT skills development and regulatory improvement, payment systems.
ADECK offers a MSME Sector dialog platform for a more concerted effort to ensure that the full economic potential of E-Commerce is realized for Curaçao and particularly that no people and enterprises are left behind.
Leveraging ADECK’s new monthly meeting formats, awareness can be raised on the opportunities, challenges, and constraints concerning E-Commerce. These are opportunities for the MSME sector to build capacity on the subject matter;
Mobilize and rationalize available financial and expert resources for the implementation of priority projects that would address those challenges and constraints;
Strengthen coherence and synergies among MSME sector and stakeholder activities to further the use and gains from E-Commerce in Curaçao.
Partner with regional and international efforts such as those created by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development eTrade for All program which is a global concerted effort that aims to improve the ability of developing countries to use and benefit from E-Commerce.
Please, join us to learn and get more insights about E-Commerce developments in Curaçao such as developments on local payment solutions and about the latest developments favoring the MSME sector and economic growth in general.
By Angelo B. J. Luidens
Angelo B. J. Luidens is managing director of Stargue, Inc. Founded in 2002, Stargue is a professional services firm, specializing in applying social scientific knowledge and technological advances, delivering insightful perspectives leading towards informed decisions, and converting innovative ideas causing sustainable value-added improvement of our clients’ business. Stargue is a member of ADECK.