The Ecommerce Evolution Is Finally Here & CoolMarket is Leading The Charge
By Kadia Francis | October 28, 2019 | 5 Min Read
The CoolMarket team showed up and showed out in a big way last Wednesday at the inaugural staging of their Connectecom E-Commerce Conference & Expo at the Jamaica Pegasus. The now signature event has established Coolmarket as a major voice and advocate for digital Jamaica.
Billed as a high end event and featuring a diverse cast of speakers, it promised to be an evolved conversation about the rapid growth of the global digital marketplace and how Jamaicans can go about carving out opportunities for themselves in that space.
I can honestly say that if the conference accomplished nothing else, it was successfully able to do just that. Mrs. Vivienne Reynolds, Managing Director of coolmarket.com and her team delivered.
I have used my platform as a soapbox to advocate for the (paid) inclusion and centering of local expertise in these kinds of conversations. I will continue to insist that anyone seeking or being invited to engage in a discussion on the digital future of Jamaica should at least have an elementary understanding of how Jamaicans actually use technology and concomitantly, how we behave in the digital space.
Otherwise, it’s a meaningless endeavour and frankly a waste of money and time. Well, for the participants anyway.
Thankfully, Coolmarket had the good sense to avoid the cliches, producing what I would consider a quality event by any reasonable standard.
She explained that her team was very careful in how they chose presenters in general, making sure that everyone invited understood exactly what was needed and could in their own way elevate the conversation.
That they did, there was no gushing of useless statistics, insights or other irrelevant information. Instead, what the participants got was important foundational, best practice opinions, information, tips and resources grounded in solid expertise and years of experience from some of the best at it.
The Speakers Brought The Sauce
Thanks to the Cool team I had an opportunity to talk with them after and found them even more forthcoming and engaging with their knowledge. Read on for my brief overview of their presentations and to watch the interviews.
Warning the ambient noise is loud so you may want to listen with a head phone so you don’t miss what they’re saying.
About 9 years ago Barrington and his wife started a business basically selling Jamaica online. In that relatively short period of time, they have turned their passion for all things local into a multi-million dollar business.
They are now in the top 25% of sellers on the Amazon platform. So much so that they get flewed out every year to speak at Amazon’s annual conference.
Mr McIntosh had one simple message for the CoolMarket audience, it is possible, it can be done and you don’t have to leave Jamaica to do it. His presentation was equal parts inspirational, educational and practical.
In my talk with Mr McIntosh he gave this brilliant analogy about what the online space is.
During his presentation Scott shared a quote from Pluto with an addendum that I thought was brilliant. Pluto said, those who tell the stories rule society. Scott added, those who tell the stories rule the market share and he’s so right.
In our conversation after his presentation, he elaborated further on that as well as shared why he believes businesses should invest in the digital space.
Williams delivered a jaw dropping, mind boggling presentation which really served to drive home the point about how absolutely diabolic people can be online. And, how easy we make it for them to either steal our identity, money or reputation, just by how careless we are with the information we share online.
As Jamaicans would say, it was a proper drape up, a slap in the face, a ‘am I getting through to you yet’? Kinda presentation that left some people legit scared. But, cybersecurity is a serious issue and an integral part of any digital conversation.
The more we become technologically and digitally integrated the more exposed we can become. But, as far as Dept. Supt. Williams is concerned that threat shouldn’t be a reason to delay the inevitable march towards a digital future.
Astha’s presentation though short was focused on what’s necessary for successfully marketing on Facebook. This was particularly useful because Facebook is the most used social platform in Jamaica. And, if digital marketing is about meeting people where they are online, that’s a good place to start.
However, it’s not just bout posting random things and hoping something sticks, according to Astha there are two things that you must pay attention to.
This conference for me felt like the first time Jamaicans had a serious conversation about the digital economy and what exactly are the opportunities that await us if we should engage in it.
Sure, it is self-serving, Coolmarket is after all a business trying to establish itself as the Amazon of Jamaica, so anything they do is with that intention. However, allies/advocates aren’t always going to act out of altruism, more often than not they have a dog in the fight.
What’s interesting was that I was actually looking forward to the expo, I figured if the conference turned out to be a dud (as I had feared) at least I could discover some new digital Jamaican businesses and people to support.
That did not happen, certainly there were really great booths there but nothing of the sort you would expect to see at a cutting edge e-commerce event. That and it felt a bit ‘itch up’ as Jamaicans would say, there wasn’t enough space to really take in a booth and interact without bundling and bumping into other people.
An e-commerce expo, billed the right way and given the same amount of hype and shine would be a crowd puller in and of itself. It didn’t quite get there this time, but maybe next year? We shall see.
It is my humble opinion that a conference of this magnitude needs more room to expand and fully ventilate the conversation on digital Jamaica and everything that that concerns.
Any significant move away from the traditional systems to tech and digital integrated systems will affect just about everything. Therefore, a more robust discussion is needed to fully ventilate all the topical issues such as:
- Legal and policy framework surrounding data collection, protection and mining
- Taxation on digital trading
- Distribution & Customer Service
- Digital Currency, Cryptocurrency
- Digital Education in Schools
In a podcast conversation I had recently with Matthew Cowen, Digital Transformation Strategist he shared that one of the reasons why people are reluctant to embrace the tech and digital space is the fast pace at which things change and the displacement that can cause.
A great show overall
That said, congratulations are in order to Mrs. Reynolds and her team for a great first-staging and I look forward to an even bigger engagement next year.
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