Despite the economic downturns that have afflicted Europe and beyond, eCommerce continues to flourish and it is no big secret that it is growing at a much faster rate than traditional retail channels, especially in emerging markets. eCommerce is radically changing the way business is conducted and it is invading all areas of economic activity in one way or another.
Online shopping is fast becoming popular with the Maltese, increasing from 38% to 51% in five years and almost in line with the EU average of 53%. Notwithstanding this, Malta trails far behind the UK at 81%, the best performing market in the EU for this indicator, indicating that there is still much room for growth in this area (Eurostat 2015). According to data released by the NSO in 2014 estimates that around €40 million are spent each year by the Maltese on internet shopping. However, according to Eurostat 2015, only 13% buy from local sites, whilst 44% shop from other EU countries. This could partly be attributed to the lack of local businesses selling online, with only 12% of Maltese enterprises (MCA 2016) engaging in online selling, amongst other factors.
In view of the above, in October 2014, the MCA together with Government published a National eCommerce Strategy covering the period up to 2020. The strategy sets out Government’s policies in relation to eCommerce and identifies a set of initiatives to be undertaken during the strategy plan period. It aims to ensure that entrepreneurs have the necessary means to capitalise on opportunities brought about by eCommerce.
The measures developed under this strategy seek to encourage eCommerce adoption only when a clear business case for eCommerce exists, and takes into account the following principles:
- the horizontal nature of eCommerce;
- the broad range of possible applications of eCommerce across product or service value chains;
- the diversity of enterprises that may benefit from eCommerce; and
- the increasing deployment of B2B solutions across value chains, having the potential of improving the competitiveness of enterprises all along the digitised value chain.