When businesses are thinking about going digital, this is a question that many are asking
themselves, should they register for a marketplace or should they go about building their own
E-Commerce website and sell directly to their audience?
The conversation of Marketplaces & E-Commerce Websites isn’t new but business owners in Trinidad and Tobago have never been faced with this many options to build their businesses online ever.
Now, with the announcement of TSTT’s “Parlour Caribbean” Marketplace, this question is sure to
be asked even more now. At present, Trinidad and Tobago has close to 40 online
marketplaces to choose from. Further complicating the decision of which marketplace to
select if you decide to go that route, as all marketplaces are not the same.
Trinidad and Tobago is also too small of a market to sustain all of these marketplaces, so let’s get down to the pros and cons, that way you have some assistance in picking the right pathway for you.
Choosing whether to have your own website or use an online marketplace is a business
decision and one that must align with your business model, finances and marketing strategy.
If you are thinking about building your own website, here are 3 key pros to this choice:
- You have full control of the platform and can create your own branded experience
when people land on your website. Your content, aesthetics, checkout processes,
payment options, and delivery options are all within your control.
- You are able to work on your own Search Engine Optimization, which will allow you to show up in various Search Engines like Google and Bing. 63% of all sales start with a Google Search, even if the interaction was conducted at the physical location.
- Your website is one of the greatest tools on the market for data collection. You are able to add backend tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster, Hotjar, Microsoft Clarity, Retargeting Pixels, CRM and much more. This data is used to help understand your audience and grow your business.
The main con to building your own website is that there is technical knowledge to get started,
you will need to build out your own processes for payments and deliveries and even though
you have the website built, you need to learn how a website works in order for it to gain
clients, sales and leads for your business. Expenses to build a website can vary.
It’s cheaper to build it yourself but the cost can rise when hiring developers.
These are 2 massive pros, I believe there are more cons to marketplaces but ultimately, your
business needs to weigh out the pros to see if it is worth it for your business.
The cons are as follows:
- The marketplace focus on building its own brand, ie Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist.
The bigger the brand name of the platform, the more it will attract consumers to check
it out. The platform needs to focus on building its brand first and cannot focus on pushing your individual brand because it will be listing thousands of vendors.
- Your competition is on the exact same platform as you. If you are selling Pepper Sauce, for example, there can be dozens or hundreds of other brands selling the exact same item as you, it allows the consumers to easily start comparing your brand to others and you can get lost on the platform amongst the noise.
- You have ZERO control over the platform. You cannot create an experience on the marketplace, the way you are able to do on your own website. The experience is solely up to the Marketplace, their UX/UI, their branding, the checkout processes, payment options, delivery options, and customer services, this is all handled by the marketplace. Choosing the wrong platform can impact your brand and alienate customers if the marketplace chosen isn’t a good platform.
- Most marketplaces have high subscription fees that you have to pay regardless of whether you sell or not.
- Marketplace saturation is very high in T&T which means that most of the platforms are unable to bring in a high number of vendors, which lowers the value of the overall marketplace and defeats the purpose of the marketplace concept.
I do believe that the strongest thing for a brand to do is to have its own website and list on a great Marketplace. There is nothing stopping you from having the best of both worlds.
Don’t just leave everything up to the marketplace to grow your brand online. Even if you decide not to have an E-Commerce Ready website and you link to your shop on the marketplace but you use your website to create content and grow your brand’s presence online, that will work tremendously.
The key is to truly find a Marketplace that will work well with your brand and one that will not detract from your brand. Otherwise, you are better off with just building your own E-Commerce Website and setting up your own delivery options with the available couriers.
As time goes on, we shall continue to update the list of marketplaces available in Trinidad and Tobago.
As of right now, here are the known marketplaces:
- Parlour Caribbean
- Planting Seeds
- Pickup TT
- Shop Hub
- Drop Hub
- Callaloo Drive
- TNT Ocean
- Digital Marketplace TT
- Shop Caribe
- My Go-To List
- Sell Your Stuff
- Trini Trolley
- Red Barrel
- RTT Mall
- Meridian TT
- Bynq Shoppe
- 868 Market
- The Hub
- Tarus One
- My TF Shop
- Shopaholic TT
- E Caribbean Online
- On Mark TT
- MGTL Marketplace
- Ebuys TT
- My Reflection TT
- Shop Now TT
- The UpShop
- Trini Store
- Ak Trinidad
- Pickup TT
- List It TT
- One Market TT
- Food Depot TT
The Top Marketplaces in Trinidad and Tobago
Based on the web traffic received in the month of July 2022, these are the top marketplaces currently in Trinidad and tobago.
If you have any more questions about marketplaces & E-Commerce websites, feel free to reach out and contact me.
Thank you for this article. I read it just in time as I started contemplating the options for my start-up online store.
No problem Rhonda…Glad it could help.