Editorial: It’s time to future proof businesses

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In a whirlwind week where we have seen yet more restrictions and lockdowns imposed upon our neighbours, the people of Malta aimed a national outcry at the direction of the Maltese Government for launching “Christmas in the City”. The campaign, although not a mass event, promoted individuals to visit the capital over the festive period. Whilst the MAM and many other entities echoed concerns of irresponsibility, it truly beggar’s belief we are drawing 2020 to close, and more companies are simply not offering a complete e-commerce experience.

Malta has, by far and large a long stretch of the imagination to go to reach brilliant online e-commerce standards. How can it be one can access a shop online yet find no prices or a complete lack of customer support? Given the current scenario, shouldn’t we be advising more people to log on to their favourite local shops across the country and offer incentives for the use of such portals, rather than free parking in Valletta? It’s high time for a National e-commerce strategy. As we have shifted our habits and ways of working over the pandemic, the way we shop is steadily changing. The government should offer companies in need of support comprehensive training packages for online marketing, be taught how to stay competitive, and help with logistics and postage fees.

The list for reasons as to why we need to improve in this area is endless. Having a website gives a business instant credibility; customers are more likely to trust a business when they land on a professional, slick site and enjoy the experience. Being online also opens up to a world of opportunities to further build on this trust, such as through online reviews and testimonials. Whether you like to browse before work early in the morning or prefer to search for the perfect gift for your brother in the evening, we all know the internet allows us to shop outside regular opening hours. Having a reliable e-commerce system will enable customers to visit a business 24/7, at times that suit- no more Black Friday traffic madness. This year sales need to be staggered, and online.

This year, outside of physical shops, people will have to line up, single-file, and respect social distancing. They will need to limit the number of people allowed in the shop at once.  So, the hyped-up shopping day has gone from a mad dash to a more mellow “pass to the left, shop to the right and sanitise your hands. There’s never been a greater need for a National strategy on e-commerce.

Positively in the last week, we see seeds of such ideas are coming to fruition, The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Malta Enterprise and the Ministry of Economy launched a business re-engineering scheme, to enable companies to tap into funds to digitalise. Although many businesses have made a digital switch, and some are truly paving the way- let’s hope this resonates fast enough so we can shop safely from the comfort of our homes this festive season.

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