The rise of e-commerce has been widely accepted as the path forward for shopping, and recent years have only solidified this view.
While this presents tremendous potential for businesses globally, it also exposes them to increased danger from malicious cyber threats. Mitigate them and safeguard your business by employing cybersecurity measures such as VPNs, verifying user accounts, and providing cyber awareness training to your employees.
However, due to their unmatched convenience, popular e-commerce platforms will continue to be the preferred destinations for shoppers. To gain more insight into this booming industry, we reached out to Javier Piña, CEO of Corotos – the leading online marketplace in the Dominican Republic.
Let’s go back to the very beginning of Corotos. What has your journey been like throughout the years?
Corotos was founded in 2010 and has maintained its position as the leading marketplace in the Dominican Republic despite tough competition and challenges over the years.
Our platform provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to showcase their products to thousands of potential buyers. We also encourage users to list their used products, making us one of the top contributors to the circular economy in the Dominican Republic.
Despite being in the market for a while, we still consider ourselves a startup because we constantly adapt and evolve. As evidence of this, we recently introduced new products. This year, we decided to evolve from a listing-based platform to a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution. This allows us to have a closer relationship with our vendors and add more value to our offerings. While this was a drastic shift, we expect it to drive high growth in the coming years.
Can you tell us a little bit about your marketplace? What makes it stand out from other online marketplaces?
Corotos is the top online marketplace in the Dominican Republic, boasting a vast catalog of over 85,000 products available daily. We pride ourselves on being generalists, offering over 70 categories where our users can find everything they need.
This is our main advantage over other solutions that require users to visit multiple websites, wasting valuable time. Our marketplace is designed for convenience, ensuring our customers can easily find what they're looking for in one place.
Moreover, we have a dedicated local customer support team whose primary role is to moderate content, reducing the risk of scams and fraudulent activity on our website. This sets us apart from other online platforms and provides our users with a safe and trustworthy shopping experience.
What tips would you give to vendors looking to expand their business?
First, ensure that their product listings are optimized for search within the marketplace. In our case, we suggest providing detailed product descriptions, using relevant keywords, and high-quality images to make their products stand out.
Second, it's best to price their products competitively within the marketplace to attract customers and stand out from the competition.
Third, provide excellent customer service. In marketplaces, customer service can make or break your business. Respond to customer inquiries quickly and professionally, promptly address any issues or concerns, and provide accurate and transparent information about your products and services.
How did the recent global events influence your field of work? Were there any new challenges you had to adapt to?
Despite the impact of recent global events, I believe that the Dominican Republic, our home country, has managed the situation well. Our economy has continued to grow, as evidenced by the increasing number of users accessing our website for both vending and purchasing purposes.
As for our internal structure, we have a small yet efficient team that has allowed us to maintain our operations. We believe that having a streamlined team has been beneficial in adapting to the challenges posed by the current situation.
Overall, we are proud to see that businesses in the Dominican Republic are thriving despite the difficult circumstances. We remain committed to monitoring the situation closely and adjusting our strategies to ensure continued success.
What do you think is the most important factor when it comes to customer satisfaction?
The key to customer satisfaction lies in understanding their needs and expectations. In general, problems arise when there's a misalignment in this area, as businesses may deliver different products or services than what their customers actually want.
What measures or practices do you think should average individuals adopt to protect themselves when online shopping?
Although the vast majority of users on our platform aim to maintain a secure and reliable environment, there are always a few who intend to cause harm. To address this concern, we have introduced a product called Verified Account for personal and enterprise users.
For personal accounts, we verify the user's identity by cross-checking their government-issued identification with our local government register to ensure that the user is genuine. On the other hand, we examine their corporate documents for enterprise accounts to ensure they are in good standing. By doing so, we establish a trustworthy environment where users can interact with verified and trustworthy parties.
Our product has proven successful, as verified accounts receive 2.6 times more requests than unverified accounts, demonstrating that our users prioritize security and reliability when interacting with others on our platform. With Verified Account, we aim to provide all our users with a safe and secure environment.
How do you think the eCommerce sector is going to evolve in the next few years?
We are based in the Dominican Republic, and we can acknowledge that we are still behind compared to other regions, like North America or Europe, and even against some countries within our region, like Mexico and Brazil. Therefore, our priority is to provide a seamless online shopping experience that includes secure online payments and efficient shipping. Additionally, we aim to incorporate more personalized experiences through data analytics and artificial intelligence.
In the broader eCommerce sector, I anticipate several developments in the near future, including integrating virtual and augmented reality to provide customers with a more immersive product experience. There will also be a greater emphasis on sustainability as consumers become more environmentally conscious, and eCommerce companies are expected to implement sustainable practices such as reducing packaging waste and carbon emissions.
Finally, I expect to see an expansion of cross-border eCommerce, enabling businesses to reach new markets and expand their customer base.
What tips would you give to companies looking to strengthen their relationships with their customers?
Strengthening relationships with customers is essential for companies to thrive and grow. The main tip I would suggest is to listen to what they say. We must encourage them to provide feedback and suggestions and use their input to improve products and services.
Show them their opinions are valued and that we’re committed to meeting their needs. In addition, provide excellent customer service by responding promptly to their inquiries and complaints.
And finally, what’s next for Corotos?
We are constantly seeking new ways to enhance the experience of our customers. For our vendors, we aim to be their all-in-one solution for everything they require to sell online. Our objective is to digitize vendors throughout the country, offering them access to different sales channels that will give them exposure and the possibility of boosting their sales.
To achieve this, we plan to introduce transactional capabilities while maintaining the integrity and security of our platform. We anticipate launching this feature within the year.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small vendors play a crucial role in the Dominican Republic's economy, and we are committed to providing them with a platform to help them grow and contribute to the country's development.