Leading IT solutions provider Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS) is optimistic that its new comprehensive e-commerce platform, Q-Mall, could open up the Caribbean for Jamaica's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
According to AIS, Q-Mall is the first comprehensive e-commerce platform specifically geared towards Jamaican and Caribbean vendors to provide worldwide reach.
“It aims to provide SMEs with an increased chance of success, and encourages entrepreneurship by reducing capital costs that would be invested in acquiring a physical location for sales,” AIS, Jamaica's leading IT solutions provider, announced last week.
In a statement on the new development, chairman and CEO of AIS Douglas Halsall said that the future of retail is digital.
He said that the long-awaited platform, which is now close to public exposure, will enable the SMEs to navigate this fundamental shift in retail operation, by providing a highly innovative and integrated e-commerce platform, with a comprehensive set of tools for managing every aspect of digital commerce, including inventory, ordering processing, logistics and packaging, marketing and loyalty.
“SMEs will now have an avenue through which to market and sell their goods in Jamaica, across the Caribbean, and in other international markets allowing them to expand and provide additional employment,” Halsall said.
In fact, he said, the platform could be the fillip that the Government's Economic Growth Council (EGC) needs to motivate its 5-in-4 growth initiative, at this time, as it would greatly assist in achieving a number of objectives leading to widespread economic improvement accessible to all Jamaicans, including the most vulnerable.
“Mobile money is the first step in digitisation that will lead to financial inclusion and a jump in GDP: This could be the impetus needed,” Halsall exulted.
“It is also a great opportunity for start-ups who can sell their products without high start-up costs, including rental. The possibilities are endless,” he added.
The platform is being likened to Amazon or Alibaba, and could mean a complete transformation and disruption in the local retail sector. It could also mean an expansion of commerce outside of Jamaica, since digital platforms are not limited by geography.
Q-Mall does all the 'heavy lifting', allowing vendors to focus on providing products and services.
According to Halsall, it will be the only platform in the Caribbean to have a payment gateway linked to the Quisk mobile money platform. Quisk is known as a game-changer, opening up e-commerce to persons of all income levels, particularly those who do not have a credit card.
“Over 75 per cent of retail transactions are still settled in cash and less than 15 per cent of Jamaicans have credit cards – major impediment to e-commerce. Quisk solves that issue,” he noted.
He added that the combination of Q-Mall and Quisk, two AIS products, could address the issue of financial inclusion and facilitate business development and entrepreneurship.
“Q-Mall will provide merchants with a choice of payment platforms, virtual storefront and back-end logistics support, including delivery, which could unleash a tsunami of entrepreneurial energy in manufacturing, services, transport, remote health care, retail and logistics,” he noted.
“It allows customers to engage in various activities online by tailoring their experience to purchase products that are more convenient for delivery,” he added.
He said that AIS has already had preliminary discussions with the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) and Jampro, and both institutions were encouraged by the initiative.
“Finally, somebody in Jamaica has opened the door to the 21st century. exceptional work,” current president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Howard Mitchell was quoted reacting to the new platform.
AIS also noted that World Bank studies have indicated that the digitisation of cash could add multiple points to a country's GDP.
BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior Staff Reporter
Sunday, September 22, 2019