The experience gained across our projects has resulted in the development of a methodology and suite of accompanying tools and materials, partnerships with private sector firms including marketplaces, payment solutions and logistics firms
A full implementation of an e-commerce support project would ideally cover both Institutional Level and the Enterprise Level activities.
The Institutional Level provides governments with a national strategy to implement objectives related to e-commerce, equips institutions with the insights and capabilities to promote and support the development of e-commerce.
The Enterprise Level steps enterprises through the skills and acquisition of tools and processes to successfully conduct e-commerce, supported by partners and solutions.
An ecomConnect project is divided into 2 phases, which can take between 12 and 24 months depending on the design of the project:
Inception and ecosystem evaluation (4-6 months): during which awareness is raised among the various stakeholders, aiming to build commitment toward the project and establish the objectives and scope of the work. The capacities of institutions, service providers and the enterprises themselves are assessed in their ability to support and conduct e-commerce. The selection and profiling of enterprises is made, and the selection of coaches made who will support field work in the MSME capacity building phase.
MSME capacity building (12-18+ months): the selected MSMEs are supported in the acquisition of required capacities for e-commerce by coaches in distinct phases of learning, beginning with an analysis of the product and market opportunities and the development of positioning strategies; the development of content to list their firms and products, the operationalisation of their e-commerce strategies by listing on e-commerce platforms, implementing payment and logistics solutions; and managing customer service and digital promotion activities.
In parallel to MSME capacity building work is undertaken to design and deliver elements of Ecosystem upgrading - including work with marketplaces to provide supporting services and logistics firms to provide suitable local and international transport and related services.
ITC's ecomConnect programme is structured around interventions with different time scales and reach.
The ecomConncet network (eA) is a platform enabling online interactions with immediate effect. The platform - with a growing list of members from around the world - hosts learning, tools and facilitates interactions between experts and entrepreneurs, at https://ecomconnect.org/. Digital tools include an E-commerce Readiness Quiz to assess maturities for e-commerce; the E-commerce Cost Calculator to evaluate fees and costs of selling on line; and the Africa Marketplace Explorer to identify suitable B2C marketplaces in Africa.
The (eB), (eC) and (eD) interventions involve a progressively higher level of interaction with enterprises and partners in countries and a shifting focus from boosting, consolidating to ensuring the durability of change.
The ecomConnect curriculum consists of detailed training modules, tools and workbooks that have been created by the ITC e-commerce experts to support SMEs in developing and least developed countries trade internationally via online channels.
The full implementation of the curriculum takes export-ready companies through a series of learnings from market research, e-commerce engineering, digitalisation of product listing, creation of company content, selecting appropriate online channels, identifying payment solutions and shipping options to customer service and digital marketing. By the end of the curriculum, the SMEs are ready to sell online, either to local or international markets.
The curriculum is generally implemented through the train-the-trainer methodology with some activities supporting the SMEs directly depending on their digital maturity and advancement. The curriculum is customised to the specificities of the country and requirements of the project.