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Balkan eCommerce Summit provides ready-made solutions for cross-border trade

28.03.2024

A news conference on the subject of "Challenges for e-merchants in Bulgaria and the Balkans: 53% of businesses do not sell online due to lack of contacts, human resources, and knowledge" was held in BTA Sofia on March 27, 2024. The event was arranged by Nikola Ilchev, the founder of the Balkan eCommerce Summit.

Selected specialists in the field of e-commerce and related fields deliberated on the noteworthy obstacles and prospects confronting the sector in Bulgaria and the Balkans:

  • The creator of the Balkan eCommerce Summit, Nikola Ilchev,
  • Hristo Radichev, Mediapost Hit Mail Manager
  • The Executive Agency for Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises' Executive Director, Boyko Takov,
  • Miroslava Staneva, Manager of Brand Marketing at eMAG Bulgaria,
  • The Bulgarian-Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's manager of public relations and communications, Gergana Ilieva,
  • Zvezdelina Lacheva is the DC Smith Bulgaria Executive Director.

They discussed their opinions and assessments of the state of affairs, listed the issues with e-commerce, and Nikola Ilchev hinted at their precise plans for fixing them in the upcoming years.
The founder of the Balkan eCommerce Summit, Nikola Ilchev, emphasized the growing significance of eCommerce in the region during a briefing at the National Press Club of BTA. He focused on the significance of digitalization and cross-border trade. He presented positive statistics regarding the expansion of eCommerce in Bulgaria, pointing out that the industry association that represents Bulgarian eCommerce merchants has projected that the sector will reach 2.11% of the country's GDP, with a significant increase compared to the previous year."

48% of online shoppers routinely shop on these so-called C2C platforms, which are used by 72% of shoppers overall, 44% of whom choose out-of-home delivery.
Hristo Radichev of Mediapost Hit Mail highlighted the main conclusions from the most recent e-commerce study conducted in the area, emphasizing that "more than half of retailers are still not selling online due to a lack of contacts, human resources, and knowledge." Approximately twice as many (32%) of online businesses intend to start cross-border sales by 2024 as the 18.7% who now do so. In contrast to 2022, a higher percentage of respondents—29%—have their own online store. The remaining individuals are engaged in active online sales through different channels, such as social networks, marketplaces, etc. Seven percent of internet sellers are active marketplace sellers. When it comes to advantages for merchants using this channel, the ability to save additional marketing expenses and the fact that marketplaces are a fantastic method to test in a foreign market come in first.

Boyko Takov of the Executive Agency for the Promotion of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises spoke about the value of helping SMEs, particularly when it comes to embracing  digitalization and overcoming the obstacles associated with doing business online. He listed "the ability to sell abroad, internationalisation, and access to useful sources of information" as some of the major agenda items. Takov also disclosed certain resources and instruction to support small and medium-sized businesses in establishing an internet presence.

From eMAG Bulgaria, Miroslava Staneva talked about difficulties and achievements of one of the top online merchants in the area, emphasizing how crucial it is to adjust to regional markets and customer preferences. "We have observed a growing frequency of purchasing - customers are buying more and more frequently from a wider variety of products, not just appliances. Consumers have embraced online shopping for practically every necessity, from drinks and coffee to beauty care. In light of this, we have kept expanding our product line with more than 56,000 shops in our local market, aiming to reach the more than 35 million residents of CEE (Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary). Significant efforts are being made at a group level in creating important programs to serve our 10,000 active merchants in eMAG Bulgaria and to help accelerate e-commerce in the region.development. With a significant group-level investment in the regional platform, we are also enabling cross-border sales by offering features like local language support, automated translation, and a special order/return interface. We still have more great ideas and solutions to share with you."

The Bulgarian-Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Gergana Ilieva emphasized the importance of interstate collaboration in promoting cross-border e-commerce and helping companies enter new markets. The research and advice they provide to its members, which includes tasks like participation in important global gatherings like the Balkan eCommerce Summit.

Sales of packaging are on the rise, according to Zvezdelina Lacheva of DS Smith. She emphasized that a reported growth of over 85% was made for 2023 in comparison to 2022. Lacheva went on to say that consumers' expectations for environmentally friendly and biodegradable packaging are the most obvious growing trends in sustainability. 41% of European consumers, she pointed out, expect packaging to be recycled. Additionally, plastic is gradually being replaced in packaging." In order to address the growing volumes of garbage  created in the EU, Ms. Lacheva stated, "The European Union legislators and the Commission have reached an agreement on EU rules on sustainable packaging." The proposed regulations, if approved, will force companies to cut back on single-use packaging and make sure that by 2030, all packaging is recyclable."

Nikola Ilchev expressed hope during the press conference's conclusion, highlighting the importance of one of the largest e-commerce and digital marketing events in The Balkans can help with tackling the main issues. 2024's Balkan eCommerce Summit is anticipated
- to showcase the newest developments in digital marketing and eCommerce;
- Give delegates from all Balkan nations a chance to get together, share ideas and experiences, and search for ways to improve cross-border trade;
- to expand the markets available to internet dealers, particularly in Central and Western Europe;
- to ease participants' entry into important neighboring markets by introducing them to data, statistics, and characteristics;
- to provide information on new technological advancements and applications that will help e-merchants run their businesses more profitably;
- develop foster cordial ties between visitors in order develop future partner partnerships.

Arena Sofia will host the Balkan eCommerce Summit 2024 on April 4 and 5 at Arena Sofia. In addition to smaller Business Exchange Sessions, a large expo area featuring over 150 exhibitors from Bulgaria and 17 other countries, a party after the first day, and special panels focusing on markets like Greece, Romania, and Hungary, the event boasts a robust conference program with over 30 international speakers. Every attendee also receives access to a unique app that allows them to interact with one another after the event and observe the guests, sponsors, partners, and presenters.

Tickets and the complete schedule are available at https://balkanecommerce.com.


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