BitDepth 767 - February 01

Kama Maharaj leads a seminar full of advice on the practical issues surrounding e-commerce implementations.
Pushing e-commerce for business
Kama Maharaj, founder of Sacha Cosmetics speaking at the BDC e-commerce seminar. Photograph by Mark Lyndersay.

Even if you had no intention of setting up an online store for your business anytime soon, the Business Development Company (BDC) seminar series on e-commerce offered a remarkable deal.
An extended soft-sell sales pitch, businesses were invited to a day’s worth of seminars, lunch included, first at the Courtyard Marriott and the second at Cara Suites where useful talks were offered about issues regarding e-commerce as well as success stories from businesses working in the digital trenches for some time.

The Cara Suites session on January 13 was surprisingly under subscribed, with roughly half the chairs available for participants going empty for the day long session.
The BDC reports that response has been good relative to their expectations with four companies attending the south session setting up online stores after the seminar. Other attendees have expressed an interest in signing up for the free first-year trial offer at the BDC Trade Portal Online Stores facility (the regular cost is just US$100 per year).

You’ll find no links to the service anywhere on the
BDC home page, so try instead to view what’s available.
The Cara Suites session offered some interesting information about the principles underlying e-commerce and the issues that potential online sales will bring for a company setting up their first storefront.
Space constrains me to report on the rock star of the day’s presentations, Sacha Cosmetics’ Kama Maharaj, whose extensive experience with online sales is an unparalleled resource on the subject for local businesses. 

On the experience of setting up an online store.
“This country has gotten spoiled by oil and gas, this is the information age and the currency of the 21st century is not money in the hands of few but information in the hands of many.”
“One year selling online is a dog year in the real world. Even if you aren't selling anything, what you learn is considerable.”

On finding and creating a niche online.
“You have to position what you're selling as a niche product. If you try to sell on the basis of having the lowest price, somebody is always going to be cheaper and you will be ruined.”
Maharaj explained that his cosmetics scientists worked hard and long at creating makeup blends that suited the skin of people in the Caribbean. The resulting products were branded ‘makeup for women with exotic skin’ and continue to enjoy success and popularity as a sponsoring supplier to the Miss Universe competition.
“We sell Sacha online for four to five times the price locally. Trinidad and Tobago is a charity market.”

On drawing business in.
“We sell our foundation tester for $10. We'd like to give it away, but we've found that when customers pay for it they tend to buy the product.”
Sacha built early on the structure of search engines, and as Maharaj puts it, “owns the Internet real estate.”
The company has owned and served the domain for the last ten years, and it’s one of several content rich landing pages created by the company that drives traffic back to

The technique attracts potential customers searching for terms like camouflage makeup and tattoo coverup.
“Use the terms that the customers like to use and create the content accordingly. You don't want a billboard on a deadend street.”

BDC Seminar notes
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