EXPLORING THE E-COMMERCE OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR LOCAL BUSINESS COMMUNITY

The development of online services and e-commerce companies is on the rise throughout the world and gene­rating billions annually. Most business owners in Curaçao have already created websites and made full use of social media outlets such as Instagram and Facebook, but only a handful of these merchants use e-commerce websites to sell and complete their sales online. With the expanding popularity of online retail sales, many forward-thinking entrepreneurs are exploring global e-commerce business opportunities. Curaçao merchants should be no exception, as they can benefit by expanding beyond our borders and looking past our small-scale economy to tap into these global markets.

WHAT IS E-COMMERCE?
E-commerce (electronic commerce) is simply a means of conducting commer­cial transactions electronically on the internet, including credit card processing. E-commerce websites enable businesses or freelancers to sell their products and services to customers all over the world. From a local perspective, business owners can sell their own products and fulfill their own orders for export. The local carrier, C-post offers express worldwide delivery at reasonable rates for packages under 1 kg. Additionally, local entrepreneurs can work with a logistics company abroad who will handle all warehousing and fulfillment, (i.e. a fulfillment center). An alternative option is to sell a product via a dropshipper who will fulfill all orders for you. Dropshipping is an order fulfillment method that does not require a business to keep products in stock. Instead, the e-commerce store sells the product, and passes on the sales order to a third-party supplier, who then ships the order to the customer.

HOW TO GET PAID?
All e-commerce websites need pay­ment-processing providers to handle mul­tiple transactions from various channels for the merchant’s ‘acquiring’ banks. Typically, a merchant’s payment-processing options are dependent upon the country in which their company is legally domiciled. In Curaçao, the banks provide merchant ser­vices, but not all banks provide online pro­cessing. CX Pay is the only local payment processor available in Curaçao, but only works with MCB, Vidanova and FCIB. They provide the technology to be integrated into the merchant’s website(s), but only if the website is built with a WooCommerce (WordPress) or Magento platform. Another downside is the fixed monthly fees the partnering banks and CX Pay charge, com­pared to global payment processors, such as Stripe, Baintree and 2Checkout, that only charge transaction fees.  One of the world’s most recognized and versatile payment providers is PayPal. Curaçao companies or citizens can use PayPal to pay for services or goods online, however the option of receiving payments is not yet available for this region. This is unfortunate because almost all online e-commerce platforms use PayPal as their primary payment solution. There are a few options for Curaçao companies or freelanc­ers. Payment provider 2Checkout is a good alternative for Curaçao companies and has no monthly or setup fees. However, the compliance process can take time and your e-commerce website should be finalized, as this is part of their screening process.

WHAT ARE THE CURRENT E-COMMERCE OPTIONS IN CURAÇAO?
• Build your e-commerce store using the Magento or WooCommerce (WordPress) platform and use the services of CX Pay or 2Checkout.
• Build your e-commerce store with Shopify and use the services of 2Checkout.

Setting up a US-domiciled company and bank account can be a suitable option for local merchants if you want to use PayPal, Stripe or any other payment provider. Having a US-domiciled company offers the flexibility to use a wide range of payment providers, and the option to use other e-commerce platforms to sell your prod­ucts such as Amazon, Ebay or Etsy. Stripe Atlas is a service that can help merchants from anywhere in the world setup US-based companies and bank accounts, (visit stripe.com/atlas).

Freelancers that want to offer services such as consulting and web design on the online global marketplace, can make use of sites like Upwork and Fiverrr. These platforms conduct payouts to local bank accounts in Curaçao.

Without a doubt, e-commerce can be of great economic importance to Curaçao as it can contribute to local business devel­opment and growth, create sustainable sources of income, expand business oppor­tunities and facilitate access to emerging markets.

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