Doing Business Online in the Caribbean in 2021

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Doing business online in the Caribbean in 2021 and beyond is no longer optional for the region.

The new Global Digital Insights report, produced by DataReportal in collaboration with We are Social and HootSuite, puts figures to the experience which was 2020. The pandemic forced everyone indoors and online and this manifested in increased social connections, online spending, streaming more entertainment and games and finding new ways to learn.

This is especially true for the Caribbean and the islands in the Eastern Caribbean, which is where I will focus. I will discuss what your Caribbean business should be doing online and where you need to be to reach your customers and potential buyers.

In the wider Caribbean, 77% of the population have a mobile phone. In the Eastern Caribbean mobile phone penetration is almost two phones to every resident. Montserrat has a 184.9% mobile penetration or 9228 phones with a population of under 4900.

The top five most used social media platforms for the world are Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. Not surprising, Amazon is in the top five of most used apps.

The report gives you country by country data and you can find out what the digital landscape is for every island in the region. You will find links to the Eastern Caribbean islands at the end of this article.

A Mobile First World

Across the Eastern Caribbean, mobile phones were the primary tool used to access social media. All of the 3000 people on Montserrat, who are on social media, use a mobile phone to go online. In Anguilla and Antigua & Barbuda, 99% of those with phones connect to social media that way. This number doesn’t drop too far for Saint Lucia and St. Kitts & Nevis at 98%.

In Dominica, 98% of those with access connect to the internet via a mobile phone.

Android devices are the most popular across the globe and in the region. I noted that the US Virgin Islands, although outside the scope of this article, are primarily Apple users. The global averages of activity on Android devices are: 44% of the time is spent on social and communication apps such as email, 26% on videos and entertainment and 9% on playing games.

For the islands, 56% on average connect to the internet primarily using a mobile phone. The use of tablets increased in many islands, which can be attributed to purchasing devices for use by students who had to switch to online learning.

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