An online event, “The Impact of the Pandemic on e-Commerce”, was organized by the thinktank Geocase. The discussion was moderated by Professor Khatuna Burkadze, Ph.D., Director of American and Euro-Atlantic Studies at Geocase.
During the discussion, Dr. Burkadze focused on the need to develop new approaches to the challenges of the pandemic, which would help the business sector in the process of digital adaptation and will contribute to the development of the digital economy in the future.
Acting Business Ombudsman of Georgia Nino Kvetenadze noted during the discussion that in 2020 the demand for e-commerce will triple due to the pandemic and existing restrictions.
She said the government has been supervising the development and the management of the e-commerce direction by the business sector throughout this entire period. Projects to support small and medium-sized businesses have also been developed.
Additionally, she spoke about the creation of an internal legal framework under the European Union Association Agreement, which will regulate many aspects of e-commerce operations, including consumer rights protections, which will ultimately improve the quality of services.
"Today there are endless opportunities for the development of e-commerce; there are no specific legal restrictions in the country at this stage, but naturally there are barriers, qualitative, logistical, sometimes even linguistic. I think e-commerce in Georgia has great potential not only in the country, but also in the region and can generate solid funds," Kvetenadze said.
Nikoloz Popkhadze, Director of optimo.ge and adapter.ge, spoke about platforms created during the pandemic, as well as of the new opportunities and challenges for the business sector, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.
"Offline and online sales management opportunities have been created for our business through our platforms. Business readiness and motivation is largely focused on offline trading and this is what still causes service failures.
“This creates distrust and consequently less demand for online services. We help to manage offline business and online sales from one place so that the share of online sales is stable and quite large. Consumers will save time if it works properly, and businesses will benefit more from loyal customers,” Popkhadze said.
Bakar Palavandishvili, Deputy Chairman of GeoCase, spoke about the e-Commerce Legislative Framework Project and the EU4Digital initiative, which aims to develop the e-commerce sector and help bring the digital markets of the EU and Eastern Partnership countries together.
He also spoke about the development of e-commerce in Georgia, the challenge of approaching EU standards, the planned pilot project, and the EU4GEORGIA report.
"I think today there are no more questions whether it is necessary to develop an online trading ecosystem,” said Palavandishvili. “The growing market and the prospect of rapprochement with the EU digital market have become clear, which will be one of the initiatives to facilitate exports. One of the initiatives of EU4Digital, the facilitation of cross-border online commerce, proposes a virtual database model that connects retailers, online markets, postal and courier operators, and customs authorities. The idea of a virtual pilot project, which should be implemented in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia at the first stage, will serve to facilitate the relations between the four stakeholders.”
Summing up, the moderator of the discussion, Professor Burkadze, paid special attention to the continuation of the implementation of projects related to the internetization programs: "In summary, it can be said that first of all the need to develop basic regulations was identified. It is also important to help entrepreneurs with digital platforms and raise awareness of the necessity to develop digital skills. The role of digital tools was even revealed before the pandemic. There are many examples in the world of how companies have been able to develop a successful digital business in the digital age through the proper use of information and communication technologies.”