Trading with a digital tint

June 21, 2021 | 08:00
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To further promote and strengthen the position of high-quality Vietnamese goods and services in the domestic and international markets, the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Industry and Trade has been working with e-commerce platforms. As such, the agency has secured another deal with the popular sales platform Shopee to enable farmers to sell local produce on a wider scale, in addition to supporting them with the necessary training.
Promotion of Vietnam’s popular products is going through its own digital transformation
Promotion of Vietnam’s popular products is going through its own digital transformation

The northern mountainous province of Son La’s plum and Yen Chau’s mango are now officially listed on Shopee’s e-commerce platform, with distribution currently limited to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The listing on Shopee’s popular platform is being supported by the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Vietrade) under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), which helps with product traceability, labelling, and transparency of information.

Son La has been preparing to enter the harvest season of fruits such as plums, longans, and mangoes with an output of hundreds of thousands of tonnes. However, COVID-19 has lowered demand and caused issues in the distribution of fresh fruit. Son La is currently the second-largest fruit tree cultivation area in the country, with nearly 73,000 hectares of plantations. Many fruit products of the province are not only widely consumed in the domestic market but also exported to many large markets.

In recent years, the renewal of trade promotion methods has been quickly organised by Vietrade. Its activities have focused on solving difficulties for businesses; capacity building on sales and trade promotion methods in the digital era; and disseminating, guiding, and implement practical activities based on coordination with domestic and international agencies.

Trading with a digital tint

Removing difficulties

Vu Ba Phu, director general of Vietrade said, “Marketing local products on e-commerce platforms still faces many challenges due to the limited e-commerce capabilities of cooperatives and farmers. Moreover, there is a lack of human resources with IT knowledge and skills in consulting, customer care, and consumer trends.”

Meanwhile, the newly published Directive No.08/CT-BC dated May 25 by Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien aims to create favourable conditions in the distribution and enhanced consumption of domestic agricultural products in the market.

Backed by this directive, Vietrade promotes cooperation with e-commerce platforms to also improve professional capacity building and gradually support effective consumption through this channel.

Vietrade has agreed with Shopee to step-by-step train and consult business households, cooperatives, and local businesses in Son La and other localities with potential products on issues such as opening stores and managing customers for successful product promotion and image building on this e-commerce platform.

Within the cooperative framework with Shopee and other e-commerce platforms, Vietrade has been promoting coordination with partners in the supply chain to promote agricultural products of Son La, Hai Duong province, and some other localities.

Ha Phuong, sales director for the north of Shopee Vietnam, said that one of the platform’s core values is to serve the underprivileged. Therefore, Shopee will increase the implementation of community connection projects, creating opportunities for farmers across provinces and cities to expand their business, increase income, and improve their quality of life. Since April, Shopee, together with its partners, has implemented the Shopee Farm project to support people’s access and consumption of local products on Shopee’s e-commerce platform, as well as promote high-quality agricultural products from domestic farmers.

To further promote the digital transformation in trade promotion, Vietrade also plans to coordinate with Vietnam Post Corporation (VNPost) to deploy a programme supporting farmers and ranchers across the country to sell safe agricultural products by using livestreams for promotion.

In this programme, Vietrade will coordinate with VNPost to train farmers in promotion and sales skills via livestreams and support the application of a traceability system to create favourable conditions for them to directly contact customers and better grasp market trends and requirements, thereby organising an effective production and fulfilment of consumer demands.

Digital trade promotion

Le Quoc Anh, deputy general director of VNPost, said, “The signing of the cooperation agreement with Son La People’s Committee and Vietrade is our commitment to improve the digital transformation capacity and bring agricultural products of domestic farmers on the e-commerce floor. With the experience and strength of large enterprises, we will also complete a closed ecosystem to accompany people in the digital transformation of agricultural and rural areas, thus hoping to contribute to building a digital economy, society, and nation.”

Deeply integrated with global markets through bi- and multilateral trade agreements, Vietnam has been creating opportunities to export goods and services. Amid more intense competitive pressure, the domestic market is no longer the dominant playground of many Vietnamese businesses. The trade promotion activities of Vietrade have helped to raise awareness and build and develop local brands to increase their competitiveness, contributing to constituting Vietnam’s prestige and position in the international arena.

Proof for these successes is the fact that, by 2000, none of the Vietnamese brands appeared in the rankings of international organisations. But by 2020, the total brand value of the top 50 companies listed by Forbes Vietnam stood already around $12.6 billion, with many renowned names such as Vinamilk, Sabeco, MobiFone, Viettel, and Vietcombank appearing on the list.

According to a report by Brand Finance, in 2020 Vietnam was one of the countries with the fastest growth in national brand value in the world, up 29 per cent compared to 2019. As a result, Vietnam’s national brand value increased by nine places, resulting in 33rd place among the top 100 most valuable national brands in the world.

Through participating in the Vietnam Value Programme, many local corporations have become aware of the important role of brands as the key to increasing product and corporate value. The number of enterprises recognised as national brands within the programme has steadily increased from 30 in 2008 to 124 businesses in 2020, with 283 products recognised as trademark national brands, many of which have resonated in regional and international markets.

Amid Vietrade’s efforts to boost trade promotion of domestic brands from across the nation, the agency has set up booths on e-commerce platforms such as Lazada, Tiki, Shopee, and Sendo.

Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, director of the Information Technology Application Center of Vietrade, said that by promoting products through Vietrade’s representation, the management quality and transparency of product information is ensured. Moreover, Vietrade is gradually guiding businesses on product traceability, warranting their products are provided with correct and sufficient information to consumers.

Thuy also said, “Vietrade is developing a traceability system to guide cooperatives and farming households in working with farming diaries and using QR codes to serve product traceability.”

The prime minister approved the Vietnam Value Programme with Decision No.253/2003/QD-TTg in 2003 as the only programme of the government to assign the Ministry of Industry and Trade responsible for the programme. This unique and long-term trade promotion programme aims to build Vietnam’s image as a country with high-quality products and services and boost foreign trade and competitiveness.

Over the years, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has been carrying out promotion activities and encouraging businesses to participate in the selection of products that are recognised as national brands, following the core value of the scheme which are quality, innovation, and pioneering capacity.

By Van Nguyen

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