Online Guyana, a new e-commerce company, has created a virtual marketplace where local businesses can sell their products.
The company, founded by Michael and Ernestine Leonard, had 60 small businesses registered just over a week ago when it was publicly launched.
Michael Leonard explained to this newspaper that with the businesses registered for the platform, consumers can now visit the website, www.online.gy, to purchase items. Registered businesses can list and sell items, such as electronics, clothing and beauty products. The Leonards had started a distribution service, Yellow Jackets, earlier this year and although it folded, Michael Leonard said one thing that came out of the experience was the customers they were getting used to. He explained that while Yellow Jackets were in operation, they were delivering goods to a number of small businesses that they did not previously know existed. Many of these same businesses are now registered with Online Guyana.
He noted that due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people rely on technology to transact business and Online Guyana hopes to bridge that connection between vendors and customers.
“I think there are hundreds of businesses in Guyana that do not have their own social media platforms or websites. So we thought it was a good idea to build a platform and give them the option of exposure to a wider market. As a web developer, I know how difficult it is to launch your own online store. You have to pay for a lot of things, and you have to manage those things after a while. With this platform, small businesses do not have to take the extra hassle of doing so. We’ll take care of it all at our end, ”said Leonard.
The site allows customers to create an account and place an order. The site also has a live chat function. Leonard said because not many Guyanese are familiar with e-commerce, the live chat is there to help. Through the chat feature, a member of their support staff guides customers, who may be having difficulties, when using the website. The live chat is also for vendors who may be trying to find out how to add products.
“I have a friend who has a small business and one of their challenges is monitoring their orders. Many people take orders on WhatsApp but in doing so you have a system where you can go to a specific account and see that this person has placed an order for an item, which shows you the delivery address of their person, their order number. Instead you have to scroll up back through your WhatsApp chat and go through several messages, or if not WhatsApp, you have to write down their commands in a notebook; it is very onerous. What we do have is a full system where you can manage all your orders on the website. If someone places an order, they get an email saying that this order has been placed and they also receive their order number, ”Leonard explained. As it relates to delivery, that part of the process is done directly between seller and customer as they would make arrangements for when the item can be delivered or picked up.
Vendors are allowed to register for free until June 1, 2021. In addition, they are allowed to sell any item until then with no fee attached. This is to allow vendors to use the site and see how it works for them. Leonard said that after June 1 next year, a small fee of $ 5,000 a month will be involved. That fee remains $ 5,000 regardless of vendor sales volume. Leonard added that the website will take no commission no matter how big the sale. “We are entrepreneurs at heart and we want to encourage others to become entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is the way to generate jobs and grow the economy. When you have a small business, you have to hire two or three people to help you, ”he said.
Another at the heart of registering with Guyana Online is that sellers get their own online store address. Customers visiting that particular address, they will be able to see all the items the seller has for sale. Customers browsing the site will also see next to the item, the owner of the business selling the product. Along with their online store address, all contact information for the seller is also included.
Customers shopping at Guyana Online can make their purchases using cash or MMG. “We are working on debit and credit card payments. We spoke to one of the banks and they said they were working on allowing these merchant accounts. This is one of the biggest challenges with online shopping here, obviously you want to pay for your stuff online. MMG GTT is beneficial but not everyone uses it. I hope people as early as late January can shop using their credit cards, ”said Leonard.
To register or purchase any of the items, individuals can visit the website at www.online.gy or for more information Leonard can be reached at 601-0111.