With 20 years of experience in digital entrepreneurship, Dr. Mohamed Es Fih provided individual solutions to Armenian businesses to develop access to new markets with resilient e-commerce tools.
But 2020 dealt a hard blow to the global economy. In Armenia, a roadmap to tackling the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Nagorno Karabakh war would have been impossible without e-commerce. To help improve the country’s economic prospects, the Ready to Trade project assists local producers in overcoming such challenges by boosting exports from Armenia through e-commerce and other innovative solutions. The project is being implemented by the International Trade Centre with the support of the European Union through its EU4Business Initiative.
As part of the project, a number of SMEs have built and streamlined their e-commerce presence. The ITC’s Dr. Es Fih has been the expert behind a number of breakthroughs for local businesses.
“E-commerce is key in the current situation with human interaction sharply reduced,” notes Dr. Es Fih. “To succeed in e-commerce, companies need to have effective e-payment and e-logistic solutions in place.”
He adds: “You can access 90% of international payment systems by registering a company abroad, say in the UK, the US or in the EU. That’s what we did to boost exports of the local produce to new markets.”
Dr. Es Fih also notes that, in some cases, having an order form or profile page on social media like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn can be a good first step to developing an e-commerce customer base. There are also several free tools and low-cost solutions for setting up a website, such as WordPress, Shopify.com and WooCommerce.
“Like many other companies, we have found it quite challenging to locate international buyers through search engines,” notes Sis Natural New Market Development Manager Davit Harutyunyan.
“As part of the Ready to Trade project, we opened a new account on Linkedin which can automatically find and reach out to importers, as many as 100-200 potential partners on a daily basis,” adds Davit. “We followed Mohamed’s advice and chose Germany, the leader in consumption of natural juice, as our first market. We now plan to expand our market geography through e-commerce.”
Davit adds: “We’re living through tough times, but we shouldn’t get disappointed. Instead, we intend to triple our efforts. Crises make companies more resilient by boosting their capacities as producers and exporters.”
According to Dr. Es Fih, the golden rules of e-commerce include compliance with Incoterm and the logistical requirements of the target market, as well as demonstrating a retail value even for small volumes. This gives the company a better position when negotiating with providers. The expert also advises designing and refining product identification in line with the barcode and labelling requirements, as well as having a back-up plan in case of returns. This is particularly important for small-scale exporters.
Logistics are a priority issue for local companies. To cut their costs, the expert advises local companies to combine efforts and target one specific market together. The roadmap to successful e-commerce lies through perseverance, cooperation and openness to new solutions.