E-commerce has been a prominent alternative among shopping channels. While the number of online shoppers increased rapidly, tradesmen and SMEs tried to compensate for their declining business on the traditional side with e-commerce.
Can you tell us about TOBB Turkey E-commerce Council?
The aim of our Assembly is to contribute to the design of policies that will accelerate the digitalization of our country. The council consists of councillors, the leading companies in the sector and our public institutions that make arrangements related to e-commerce. The firms know what’s going on in the field. Public institutions make the arrangements. A healthy dialogue channel between the two sides is critical to implementing the right policies. Our council is trying to provide this dialogue.
How are the figures for the volume of e-commerce in our country and the point it reached at the moment? When you compare e-commerce after the pandemic with what it was in 2019, what kind of picture emerges. What do you think will happen in the coming process?
During the epidemic period, people turned to online shopping to reach their needs without leaving the house. E-commerce has been a prominent alternative among shopping channels. While the number of online shoppers increased rapidly, tradesmen and SMEs tried to compensate for their declining business on the traditional side with e-commerce.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, e-commerce increased by 64% to 91.7 billion TL in the first 6 months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. The share of e-commerce in total trade increased from 8% in June 2019 to 17.4% in June 2020. Although there is no data for the second half of 2020, we can say that e-commerce continues to grow.
In parallel with the trends in the world, the volume of e-commerce in Turkey will continue to grow in the coming period. The share of those who purchased goods or services online in the entire adult population was only 36.5% in March 2020. We cannot quite predict what level it has reached after the pandemic, but we can say that millions of people and hundreds of thousands of businesses will gradually meet e-commerce. So, there is significant growth potential in this area.
E-Commerce is a platform that creates opportunities for manufacturers from almost every line of business. Can we get your assessment of the quality and product diversity of Turkish products and the production and supply power of our companies?
The production volume in our country continues to grow especially with the high-tech infrastructure investments carried out in recent years. Turkish products have an important place in global markets both in terms of product diversity, quality and cost. We are not a natural resource-rich country. Therefore, in the process of enriching, we must produce more and sell what we produce abroad.
What would you like to say about the infrastructure and capacities of domestic e-commerce companies in Turkey?
The e-commerce sector continues to grow exponentially with each passing year. Especially during the pandemic period, the number of people who met with e-commerce increased rapidly. E-commerce companies have also strengthened their infrastructure to meet this rapidly growing demand, while continuing to increase their capacity and expand their service areas. Our industry has significant growth potential. To achieve this potential, companies need to continue their investments without pausing.
Have our companies got efforts to expand abroad and become an international brand?
E-export is a very important opportunity to increase the currency inflow and added value of exports to our country. The opportunity to sell to the end consumer abroad over the internet is an opportunity to diversify our export markets while increasing our country’s export revenues and the number of new exporters.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development estimates global e-export volume at about 1 trillion dollars for 2020. Turkey is well behind its potential with its 2.5 billion dollars e-exports. In a simple calculation, it can be said that the volume of e-exports, which is compatible with Turkey’s 1% share of the world’s total exports, is 10 billion US dollars. There is a difference of about 4 layers between the realized and the average potential. It is very important that there is a complete consensus between the public and private sectors on the importance of e-exports. In the coming period, if the right steps are taken, Turkey’s e-export volume may increase rapidly.