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ON THE LEFT: Wider reach, more options for consumer

Amanda Norville

ON THE LEFT: Wider reach, more options for consumer

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Online shopping, or electronic commerce, which allows purchasing and selling via the Internet, was pioneered in the 1980s by Englishman Michael Aldrich, but was introduced to the world in the 1990s.
This was after the first World Wide Web server was made available to consumers in 1991 making way for numerous technological innovations such as online banking and an online pizza shop by American pizza giant Pizza Hut by 1994.
With its enormous growth in the past two decades, e-commerce has gradually become a substitute for the real marketplace.
This is not only because of the obvious factor of convenience – whereby consumers don’t need to leave the comfort of their homes to purchase and receive items – but also because of numerous other benefits associated, including the following:
• Customers are able to achieve the best bargains because they can visit multiple competing shops/suppliers.
• There are no international barriers. This creates a level playing field for players from developed and developing countries such as Barbados.
• Employment opportunities arise from a whole new industry being formed. Currently, Amazon, which launched in 1995, is world’s biggest e-commerce website and has become the most preferred online destination for shopping among customers across the globe.
Amazon sells merchandise ranging from books, clothing and electronics to car parts and accessories to their customer base, which is approximated at 30 million people allowing them to bring in net sales of $17.9 billion in their last quarter ended September 30th, 2013.
In Barbados and are two of the locally owned and operated online stores which have been attracting the attention of Barbadian consumers.
100 Flavours, an online male clothing store, was launched in July 2013 and offers a range of male clothing. It hopes to expand to offering women’s wear this year. The owner of the store said his motivation to start an online store as opposed to the conventional method of renting shop space came from the words of great businessman Steve Jobs who said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
Officials of Express Bikini, an online swimsuit store started in March 2013, said the company is glad to offer online shopping services to the Barbadians  who are very new to this method and to introduce them to the benefits of e-commerce and online ordering.
Both companies were started by young entrepreneurs who are dedicated to supplying their customers with quality products at affordable prices, along with providing innovative and good delivery services by offering free islandwide delivery as well as pickup locations across the island and accepting several payment methods including credit cards, PayPal and cash. Each company aims to be on a level comparable to Amazon in the future.
With the current economic conditions this country has been facing and the uncertainty which lies in the future, it would definitely do local businesses and entrepreneurs good to think about ways to expand their offerings by utilising tools such as e-commerce in an effort to survive in the increasingly competitive marketplace.