Avia Collinder, Business Writer
Appliance Traders Limited (ATL) has invested upwards of US$2 million in new online shopping portal which, if it captivates sought-after markets among Jamaicans in the diaspora, is meant to drive up sales by 30 per cent in a year.
Ian Neita, assistant deputy chairman for the ATL Group, said last Wednesday that ATL has hired Island Outsourcers Limited, located in the Montego Bay Free Zone, to be the interface for ATL's online customers.
The new online service, which will permit shopping around the clock, is coupled with free islandwide delivery, Neita said. Deliveries will be done by ATL.
"We have spent US$2 million in acquiring the infrastructure and rolling out the technology. We expect that it will expand our reach, especially where we do not have a physical presence in the form of a store. We project at least a significant impact on sales of at least 30 per cent in growth," Neita told Sunday Business.
"It is primarily about giving a new opportunity for our customers to connect with us. It is a much friendlier way of representing information and gives an opportunity through an e-commerce platform to shop."
Demand from the Diaspora
Neita said demand for the service so far has been coming from the diaspora.
"Jamaicans living overseas do shop for appliances for families here. It is a real opportunity for us. Jamaicans living here will also be able to shop and have goods delivered to their home," he said.
The new online service also positions ATL to compete more effectively with rivals Singer Jamaica and Courts Jamaica, which also have online shopping sites. The appliance company, founded by Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, tends to cater to higher income scales than Courts and Singer.
Neita says ATL is distinguished from its competitors by its promise of servicing what it sells and a maintenance schedule for large appliances which is strictly adhered to.
Products available online at atljamaica.com include air conditioners, generators, pumps, and commercial laundry, kitchen and exhaust equipment; and for the household - washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves and solar water heaters.
ATL only "imports into Jamaica the appliances which are manufactured and tested for our conditions".
50 per cent increase in sales
ATL Group does not disclose financial information, but Neita said the appliance division recorded at least a 50 per cent increase in sales.
"We had a very good financial year," he said.
"We had at least 50 per cent growth year over year driven by marketing, product offers and the rapid service, which is our hallmark."
The appliance company does business elsewhere in the Caribbean, but is currently contemplating physical expansion into territories where sister operation Sandals Resorts International operates hotels, but there is no timeline on the project.
"We do operate in other islands. We have installed equipment in hotels in other territories within the eastern Caribbean. Even though we don't have a physical presence, we have procured, installed and serviced, especially for laundry, bars and kitchens," said Neita.
"Expanding our physical stores is a natural progression for us. That is always something we are contemplating," he said.