E-commerce development program for Armenian SMEs

Armenians increasingly prefer to shop online for a variety of goods. Yet, e-commerce is mainly used by specific demographic groups like youth and people with middle and higher incomes with digital skills and access to the internet. Despite the growth in e-commerce among consumers, buying products and services online remains a novelty for many Armenian entrepreneurs, particularly outside of its capital Yerevan.

This e-commerce development project, commissioned by RVO and the Netherlands Embassy in Armenia, aimed to strengthen SMEs in the sectors fashion, clothing and agrifood in Armenia with the skills and knowledge required to grow a successful online business.

Through this initiative, Globally Cool has supported SMEs with a series of trainings and an e-commerce coaching program to uplift the skills and knowledge required to grow their online business and at the same time to increase the capacity of Armenian State University of Economics (ASUE) lecturers to transfer knowledge to young economists.

Products

Year

2023 – 2024

Country

Armenia

Type of activity

  • Branding and Promotion
  • Capacity Building
  • Digital Marketing
  • Globally Cool Academy

Activities

We conducted several activities:

  • To reach out to potential participants, we have created a promotion plan and conducted a campaign in partnership with Armenian business associations, The Netherlands Embassy in Armenia, the Dutch-Armenian Chamber of Commerce, and the AYWA-Women Entrepreneurs Network of Armenia.
  • We selected 26 SMEs, using a scoring model and ranked them.
  • We undertook three research actions, including a needs assessment, desk research, and a consumer survey. The findings from these actions were used to tailor the training program.
  • In close collaboration with ASUE, we selected lecturers to join the program.
  • We organized an opening event for the training program in Armenia and hosted the first onsite training.
  • The training program also contained a Training of Trainers component for ASUE lecturers.
  • We conducted an online training programme via the Globally Cool Academy, which the participants followed from their homes.
  • We also integrated an assignment book, a document that guided the participants with self-assessments, quick wins, and actions. These helped to improve all critical aspects of the website, search engine optimisation (SEO), social media, and e-commerce marketplaces.
  • We conducted a customized 1-on-1 assessment for the participating companies on website usability, SEO, and social media channels. After the online training programme, we also hosted 1-on-1 coaching sessions. With a team of coaches, we conducted 3-4 coaching sessions and focussed especially on implementing at least 1 quick win per company.
  • We closed the training program with a physical event, where the participants presented the results, exchanged experiences, and further developed their community of practice.

Results

As a result of this project, the e-commerce skill program has been developed and implemented for 26 SMEs. These have been provided with knowledge, skills and tools in the field of e-commerce development. We also conducted an evaluation to gather feedback from participants regarding the program and the training itself received a rating of 4.8 out of 5 for its usefulness. The e-commerce program has helped 50% of SMEs increase their sales via a new e-commerce channel or by upgrading their current channels.

Four ASUE lecturers also have gained e-commerce knowledge and are able to transfer that knowledge to ASUE students.

We also launched an online community via WhatsApp and facilitated discussions to initiate interaction within the group. SMEs took the opportunity to further introduce their businesses to fellow members, received feedback, and engaged in several polls. Some WSMEs also sought assistance by asking questions related to e-commerce, and we provided suggestions to address their queries. This platform has successfully fostered collaboration, knowledge sharing, and support among SMEs.

Within the program, 20 participants have made individual action plans that define the next steps for their e-commerce activities, based on the gained knowledge, tools and skills. After the online training programme, we also hosted 1-on-1 coaching sessions for 16 SMEs. With a team of coaches, we conducted 3-4 coaching sessions and focussed especially on implementing at least 1 quick win per company. The SMEs were able to improve social media engagement, website upgrades, and marketplace integration. Moreover, the creation of job opportunities by participating SMEs underscores the program’s positive impact on employment and economic growth in Armenia.