|Livestreaming has become a popular tool for all sorts of salespeople |
Many agricultural enterprises have temporarily closed their doors in order to comply with the rules of social distancing and the bans on large gatherings – and have shifted their business activities to online platforms as a result, with varying degrees of success.
Because of inexperience and lack of training, the revenues of MD Queens JSC, specialising in the distribution of celastrus hindsii tea, is only one-third of what it was before shifting to an online business.
General director Trinh Minh Thu said that for many years MD Queens clung to a traditional business model. Its products are often displayed directly at “One Commune, One Product” (OCOP) stores and points of sale in Hanoi and neighbouring provinces and cities, so it is difficult to ramp up the online sales mindset.
“I eventually did sign up for an online business course, but the cost is quite high. The cheapest course I could find still costs around VND10 million ($435),” Thu said.
The demand for online sales courses to help promote and sell agricultural goods has increased in the past two years, especially with the rise of the livestreaming format.
To accompany that, in June a programme to deal with the subject was jointly held by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Central Committee of the Vietnam Women’s Union, and the Central Committee of the Vietnam Farmers’ Union. They, along with some famous artists, came together with the purpose of boosting consumption of agricultural products to help farmers in localities affected by the COVID-19, such as the northern province of Bac Giang.
Hundreds of tonnes of agricultural products were sold in just a few livestream sessions, which has become the motivation for many businesses and individuals selling agricultural products to come online and utilise livestreams to be equipped with new business skills and solutions at a time when more than 20 provinces and cities in Vietnam are extending the social distancing campaign.
However, not all businesses and sellers can afford these expensive courses. Therefore, free online sales training classes for farmers and small agricultural business households have been introduced and have already attracted a large number of learners.
These classes will provide skills in video recording and product broadcasting, and offer full control of video content and product branding on social networks.
At the last lesson, the trainer will show each learner’s livestream programme for comment. Graduated learners also perform livestreams to exchange and share their experiences with their peers.
According to Nguyen Trung Thanh, founder of the ASEAN Digital Conversion Research Institute, over 90 per cent of learners have overcome their initial hesitances to take a video or appear on livestreams.
Over the past two months, the institute has also coordinated with the Hanoi Coordination Office for New-style Rural Area Building to organise a free online sales training course for farmers and small businesses to promote online consumption of agricultural products, especially OCOP products and regional specialities.
“We are also implementing the model of an internal exchange market so that sellers can exchange and sell goods in the digital space in lessons through online meetings,” Thanh said.
Meanwhile, after more than a year of gaining online sales experience, the general director of MD Queens has also now imparted online business experience to a group of over 2,500 students in provinces and cities across the country.
Thu said, “I am building a free online sales training series for my team members to both create trust and build a brand, and promote the high-quality products of MD Queens to the community.”
According to her, in the past, mainly young people preferred online shopping, but now many middle-aged and elderly people from urban to rural areas are also participating in online shopping platforms, making the virtual market more vibrant and creating favourable conditions for people, organisations, and businesses to have a more convenient and efficient shopping channel.
In addition to actively selling agricultural products through livestreams, farmers and businesses are also supported to sell through apps on the App Store, Google Play, and Zalo.
Elsewhere, many stalls have been set up to promote consumption of farming products on online channels in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, such as a stall from the Young Businesspeople Association of Ho Chi Minh City to reduce the backlog of agricultural products caused by supply chain issues due to COVID-19.
Another form of applying technology that also appears and may become a new trend in the future is the self-checkout store model. In Ho Chi Minh City, such a supermarket has started operating in Co Giang ward of District 1 since the end of August and is expected to be deployed until the end of the social distancing period.
In Hanoi, the supermarket system of Okono Vietnam Co.,Ltd. in South Tu Liem district also opened a system of self-service stores. The store automatically operates through the camera system, where the cashier will monitor online and guide customers to pay for the order. Agricultural products will be packed at the list price, and the buyer chooses and pays for him or herself.
This model is based on the honesty and self-discipline of customers. During the time of social distancing, the store also offers a buy now, pay later policy for people with difficult circumstances.
Nguyen Hoang Kiet, manager of a self-checkout store in South Tu Liem district, said that the store mainly helps people to buy goods conveniently and ensure social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. People freely choose the products they need and all products are priced at VND10,000 (44 US cents).