Retailer’s e-commerce portal ‘puts us ahead of competitors’


Tribune Business Reporter


A major Bahamian retailer yesterday said its e-commerce investment had given the business more “exposure” while allowing customers to shop from the safety of their homes.

Brent Burrows Jr, CBS Bahamas (Commonwealth Building Supplies) manager of e-commerce and online shopping, told a webinar: “Having the online catalogue, having the online presence, it gives us a lot more exposure out there in our marketplace.

“If you go on Google right now we have close to 900 keywords that will give you a ‘CBS Bahamas’ top search result. So it really puts the CBS Bahamas name out there and puts us ahead of our competitors.”

Mr Burrows Jr, speaking at a webinar organised by RF Bank & Trust, added that the merchant’s online portal was pushed to completion in 2020 following years of planning, which enabled it to counter the lockdowns and associated restrictions - such as curbside service only - that were imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Besides facilitating sales, CBS Bahamas’ Internet platform also allows the company to track customer data as well as determine what products individuals are most likely to search for and what they need.

Mr Burrows said: “Our marketing team is able to really integrate their marketing efforts with what’s happening online, and track those customers back and forth to keep on top of the trends, see what’s happening and get all the information current in real time as possible.

“And we really are able to be very flexible, and adapt very quickly on where we concentrate our marketing spend to maximise the potential. Not only that, but we can link it all back. So you can now see exactly what this particular ad might have done in terms of your online revenue for these particular products.

So it allows you to learn very quickly and really stay on top of fine tuning that customer experience and that outreach.” These developments have come as Bahamian companies, along with their global counterparts, continue to recover from the pandemic.

Jim Wilson, RF Bank & Trust’s vice-president of corporate finance, said firms are “digging themselves out” of the hole that 2020 placed them in through adapting to the new operating environment.

“What we are also seeing is that there is a broader trend of acceptance in that having a small percentage of your business is better than having 100 percent of nothing,” he added.

“So we’re seeing businesses take on equity partners, and part of that is also a process that’s an honest process. You have to ask yourself: What is my business worth? How much can I bring in?” Finding the right equity investor/partner was also critical to keeping businesses out of debt, Mr Wilson said.

Charnette Thompson, Cable Bahamas’ vice-president of business-to-business innovations, said: “The key is to always be learning. So for the existing team we are always learning new skills, new applications and new innovations.”

She added that Cable Bahamas has to learn all these things and “take the staff on that journey as well, because existing staff have to understand up-skilling and any new staff coming in have to add value.

“They have to come with information, and the attitude and willingness to learn all of these technologies, all of these nuances, all of these innovations and why they’re important to the SME community,” Ms Thompson said.


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