By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
A Bahamian-developed online shopping platform yesterday said the COVID-19 pandemic had given its business an immediate lift-off despite impacting the launch.
Demetrius Hepburn, Shoppee’s principal, told Tribune Business: “Things are going well. Shoppee is an online platform where we give sellers and vendors the opportunity to showcase their products on our website to give them and the buyer a sense of security when they shop online. Since the COVID-19 epidemic, we have uploaded groceries through our app instead of standing on the long grocery store lines.”
Mr Hepurn said he is in negotiations with vendors in Panama and other Caribbean territories to enable Bahamians to buy and source goods throughout the region.
He added: “The Bahamian online shopping experience had been relegated to Facebook forums and pages, and general notifications floating around on other social media sites, but this is the first time we are having an online shopping platform where Bahamians can purchase goods online with their credit or debit card and securely wait for delivery by us. They don’t have to meet each other at all, making it safe for everyone involved.”
Mr Hepburn said it took him seven months to get the necessary licensing and approvals, with Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) agreeimg to become his payment processor. He added: “We got our payment processors from RBC, and we had no issues with licensing through the Government.
“The reason it took so long with RBC is because we had to create privacy policies, refunds policies and a delivery policy. It took us about seven months to get approval from RBC. We have not had a full launch yet, because this pandemic has slowed us down.
“This is pretty much the same platform as Amazon, and it is just as safe and secure. We are trying to avoid the seller and the buyer meeting up. The buyer just buys with their credit card and has the goods delivered to them,” Mr Hepburn continued.
“We have about five vehicles present at this time. We also created a delivery dispatch software, where once the item has been purchased the buyer gets a notification which alerts them to when their items are being dropped off, the driver who is dropping it off and the vehicle the driver is driving. So they will be able to track the driver in real time.”
“When sellers or vendors upload to our website we transfer the money they make directly to their bank account,” said Mr Hepburn. “We have two different warehouses and we get the items directly from the vendor.
“But we do store some items for the vendors in our warehouse so we can assure that you get the product. The whole thing is getting vendors to follow proper inventory management.”