Taking Malta’s eCommerce Sector To New Heights

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So many aspects of our lives have shifted to the online world, and needless to say, this includes doing business and buying goods and services online. 

As the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) focuses on the facilitation and advancement of eCommerce for the benefit of both consumers and business, it has unveiled details of its renewed vision for the country’s eCommerce strategy for the years 2022 to 2024.

Bernard Agius, Manager – MCA, delivered a presentation on this vision during a conference that the Authority organised to mark its 20th anniversary. 

Along with his colleagues from the MCA, Joseph Seychell and Robert Mifsud, Agius also delved into the details of the MCA’s vision for eCommerce in Malta during an online episode of Jo Caruana’s The Boardroom.

Dr Bernard Agius, Manager – MCA

He spoke about the MCA’s mindset evolving in a way that reflects different business realities and the manner in which businesses themselves have been adapting to the ever-changing online environment and the introduction of new technological innovations and solutions.

“As the MCA’s old eCommerce strategy draws to a close, we’re looking at the implementation of our work plan for the coming years, also in line with the government’s new ICT strategy.”

Expected policy outcomes

  • A fair, open and sustainable eCommerce regulatory framework that benefits businesses and consumers alike
  • An increase in Maltese SMEs selling online
  • An increase in the number of consumers buying from Maltese sellers
  • Better understanding of regulations, standards and good practices
  • Increase in the adoption of novel solutions, pervasive business innovations and widespread application of world-class standards

Looking at the current situation, Agius said that 9 out of every 10 consumers are online, 50% of consumers are actually shopping online, buying mostly clothes and other fashion items and they’re increasingly doing so using their phones. 

“While clothes, footwear, jewellery and bags is the most common category for online shopping, we know that eCommerce is of course much broader, with takeaway food, ticketing and digital content also being quite popular.

“What we do also know, and this has changed significantly over the last few years, is that there is still a segment of society that doesn’t perceive any value in eCommerce. Both the MCA and especially sellers need to understand how best to have attractive, engaging propositions that consumers will want to try out.”

No one-size-fits-all solutions

Agius stressed that there is no single way to do eCommerce and the MCA is especially intent on ensuring that its strategy is not designed to provide one-size-fits-all solutions. 

The MCA policy has been moulded to address the needs of different types of businesses; to begin with, there are the traditional, established businesses that don’t necessarily have a business model that is directly transferable to an online environment. 

Another category of businesses are those that were ‘born digital’ that are disruptive by nature, bring about innovation and challenge the status quo, while the third category are the so-called ‘mature’ businesses that have been online for a while and have been evolving to continually optimise their business processes and sharpen their propositions. 

“The dynamics of these different types of business, all of which are extremely important of course, need to be taken into account when it comes to the MCA’s work plan on its eCommerce strategy for the coming years.”

A three-pillar plan

The Authority is looking at a three-pillar work plan that focuses on the policy/regulatory side of things, seller capacity building and demand acceleration.

Agius explained that the MCA will continue to ensure that the EU’s eCommerce Regulatory Framework is implemented in an effective and informed manner locally. And this will be done by constant monitoring and building intelligence, as well as the constant development of eCommerce fora to ensure that the Authority and industry are on the same page with respect to ever-changing realties.

“On the second pillar, we will continue to develop our training awareness and education programmes with public and private entities. We plan to invest a lot of energy into building guides and offering compliance support to businesses in the maze of regulatory aspects – from the MCA’s side but also from numerous other entities – that’s shaping up the eCommerce sector. 

Exposing businesses to new tech & best practices

“And what we also want to do, especially with smaller businesses, is offer exposure to solutions and solution providers. Businesses too often have very limited understanding of all the opportunities and technologies out there. We think there’s a very strong need for proper exposure to the technologies, service providers, best practices, case studies etc.”

And finally, Agius spoke about the ‘shop local’ drive, which has a great deal of economic and social value for consumers and businesses alike. Looking at traditional ways of buying goods and services and giving them a little nudge to take them online can make a world of difference for our local communities.

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