Barbados - eCommerceBarbados - eCommerce
In 2018, 80 percent of Barbadians had access to the internet, while 59.1 percent of mobile telephones had internet connectivity. While the uptake of e-commerce among local businesses has been very low, online purchases from U.S. websites are on the increase. The influence of the U.S. media and the prevalence of social media has made it easier to see and obtain products and services online. Buying online has become the preferred method to acquire trendy fashion, electronics, and beauty products.
Local laws that govern e-commerce are the Computer Misuse Act, the Electronic Transactions Act CAP 308B and associated regulations. There is a draft Data Protection Bill that has been published and there are also efforts to draft a Cyber Crime Bill.
Amendments to local tax laws will require collection of VAT on online purchases of goods and services to be consumed in Barbados. The VAT is to be collected at the point of sale, but this has not yet been implemented. Local shipping agencies offer Barbadians package clearing services for Internet purchases that are then shipped to Barbados for a fee. Items purchased usually include clothing, beauty supplies, electronic equipment, and automobile parts. There are also local companies that are wholly web-based and conduct business only via websites or social media.
Most local businesses tend to have a website with a static catalogue listing of their goods and services offered. Individuals seeking such goods and services are required to phone or e-mail their requests, and the transaction is then completed off-line. This is primarily evident in the real estate sector. There has been an increase in Internet-based companies that primarly advertise and sell trendy women’s and men’s fashion. Payment is usually Cash on Delivery. Most small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are creating websites or social media presence to showcasie and market their goods and services online. Some artists are even creating videos of their works on social media.
Currently, Barbados does not collect statistical data on cross-border e-commerce, but evidence suggests the top country for online overseas purchases is the United States. Some challenges exist in the areas of electronic payment systems and order fulfilment. Most SMEs experience great challenges when seeking to have an internet merchant account approved by local banks. The cost of shipping from Barbados is also extremely high. Within the airline and hotel industries, websites are much more dynamic and individuals can book various services online. Barbados has laws which enforce the protection of intellectual property rights. These are administered by the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office. This office has a strong affiliation with World Intellectual Property Organization.