Despite the economic turmoil evident in various European countries, e-Commerce continuous to grow at unprecedented rates across the globe, driving radical change in consumer and business markets. This is also exceptionally true for the small island of Malta, as more than half of the population of Malta shop online. On 16 November, 2014 the Government of Malta launched the Malta e-Commerce Digital Strategy (hereinafter referred to as the “Strategy”).
This Strategy addresses, at a high level, the prospects for Malta to attract foreign companies providing e-Commerce or ancillary services to establish operations in Malta. Malta is currently the second best performing European Member State for sales via electronic data interchange. Interestingly, in 2011 93% of online shoppers bought from the UK which is the most mature e-Commerce market in Europe.
This Strategy covers the seven-year period 2014-2020. Since consumer demand for e-Commerce goods is particularly high and most Maltese are very keen online purchasers when compared to the rest of Europe, Malta is an ideal candidate for the e-Commerce Digital Strategy. It sets out a number of measures and initiatives aiding the Maltese businesses to understand the benefits which may be derived from technological advancements as well as encouraging e-Commerce related enterprises to locate their operations in Malta.
This strategy has been founded on 4 different pillars; which must be taken up by both consumers and businesses. A brief synopsis thereof is found below.
Pillar 1: Engendering trust in e-Commerce
This pillar will seek to entice those that may still not realise the advantages that online shopping can offer, most of them being over 45 years old. This will be achieved through educational programs as well as several ongoing awareness programs to further complement the information sessions.
Pillar 2: Transforming micro-enterprises
This pillar aims to address sectors with high potential in the e-Commerce market. Thus, its objective is to aid micro-enterprises when faced with challenges due to such a digitally driven world. It will seek to raise awareness amongst potential sellers on the opportunities brought about by the use of internet technology. In effect, a dedicated mentorship program will be devised to help these enterprises understand how e-Commerce can be applied to their business. This pillar will in turn aid micro-enterprises in becoming more competitive, entrepreneurial, efficient and resilient.
Pillar 3: Taking SMEs and industry to the next level
E-commerce provides Single European Markets with opportunities to reach global niche markets that were unthinkable of until a few years ago. This pillar is aimed to support and ensure that both business and industry are equipped with the necessary tools to tap into markets, enhance competitiveness and other initiatives which are essential to drive the shift of e-Commerce to SMEs.
Pillar 4: Making Malta a global e-Commerce player
There has been significant change throughout the past couple of years, where new entrants to the e-Commerce market have been introduced at a fast pace. Furthermore, other developments such as the advent of a stronger European digital single market and the development of North Africa’s market all hint at the importance for Malta to cater for such developments. In effects, the MCA will develop a policy aimed at attracting global and European e-Commerce markets to base their operations in Malta.
In conclusion, this Strategy’s main priority is to give the Government a structure geared towards allowing proliferation of e-Commerce in Malta, both in terms of uptake by local operators, as well as attracting e-Commerce related operations, thereby benefitting the economy in general. In the words of Hon. Josè Herrera, “It is only through continued collaborative effort that initiatives in this sector will be implemented and sustained in the long term.