Neighbors and Connected Digital Solidarity: eCommerce and free digital innovation for everyone

What happened during the pandemic and how the Government and digital companies (including ours) wanted to lend a hand to small businesses by providing them with a program called Digital Solidarity - Neighbors and Connected!

2020 will forever be remembered as the year of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) and that of the lockdown, a term that was previously unknown, has become one of the most sought after, since March 2019, due to the well-known events.

We can see it in this table which depicts the trend of the 3 main searches related to the pandemic on Google:

Over time, Covid will disappear and, in the return to normal, there will be another thing for which 2020 will be remembered.

The necessity of digital innovation which translates into why have an eCommerce.

And yes! because precisely during the first total lockdown, with the need to find basic necessities (not just food), we discovered that we were deeply behind in digitally innovating our companies, our stores, our commercial activities.

Faced with a demand for goods equal to 20 times the normal trend, at e-commerce sites (for those who owned one), the system has not held up even for large market operators and the demand that has been satisfied has it is measured with a number equal to 4/5 times the ordinary trend. (Read also the eCommerce statistics in Italy 2019)

On the one hand, going from 100 to 500 in sales would be tempting to anyone, if the digital innovation theme and the impact on present and future trade were not taken into account, but unfortunately the reality is different.

In our country, digital innovation (read eCommerce above all) has touched commercial enterprises only in their thoughts and the net gap with the other Eurozone countries has been witnessed and still is by the difficulty of small commercial operators in getting back on top.

The cumulative period from January to September 2020, against the previous 2019, marks a negative equal to -6.3% with traditional stores which are at -11.3% as the previous figure includes large retailers.

According to Confesercenti "broad and decisive measures are needed, or the risk of definitive closure for many activities ". The post of the trade association is visible at this address:

True, but nobody says now that, if the coronavirus had not arrived, the big players of electronic commerce (Amazon and Aliexpress above all), would have led to this situation in a period ranging from 5 to 10 years, so it was only anticipated a scenario that, in any case, would have occurred.

It goes without saying that, with this time, our companies would have digitized as, even today, the topic is treated as a proper thing (like adapting to a legal obligation) and not as a real push for innovation. digital to integrate our business, increasing it in value.

The Ministry for Technological Innovation and Digitization, coordinated by the Department for Digital Transformation, with the technical support of the Agency for Digital Italy, immediately grasped the problem that was being created (we refer to the growing gap between large and small commercial operators), setting up the initiative "Close and Connected"Through the portal digital solidarity, with the aim of helping small businesses and neighborhood shops to enter a world that, today for the pandemic but would have been the same over time, they would sooner or later have to face: digitize and offer new supports for online purchase of its customers.

Yes, because during the lockdown, the neighborhood shops were rediscovered and their strategic importance in the social fabric, as an essential service, came out strongly and still is today.

With this initiative, "the State" did its part and immediately responded by giving a concrete opportunity to the thousands of small businesses that want to take the opportunity to catch up with the times and face the challenges of the "tomorrow that is become today ".

For our part, we have welcomed the digital solidarity initiative with open arms and, in particular, the possibility of making a contribution by participating in the "Vicini e Connessi" project as we feel we are involved in this need and thought, so much so that we develop a software, which became a reality in 2020, and build a company to promote it.

Our goal is precisely to offer true digital innovation to small and medium-sized enterprises, allowing them to open a window on the web that is easy and immediate to use for everyone, usable by multiple types of shops and sectors, which allows them to order online and decide whether also have the products delivered or go to collect them, pay online and, in general, have a constant, continuous and loyal relationship with your customer every day as if he had come to buy in the store.

A lot of time in the design has been invested in this last design idea, that is to make the customer really feel as if he were in the shop and let himself be served by his own trusted dealer.

We thank the Ministry for having included us among the companies that support this initiative and we offer our product (smart eCommerce system and customer loyalty complete with control panel and customized APP with the distinctive characters of those who want to use it) FREE for 12 months WITHOUT CONSTRAINTS and without any obligation to renew.

Subsequently, those who have deemed it valid for their commercial activity, will be able to continue using it with a small annual price.

We think that, put in this way (with the "Neighbors and Connected" offer through "Digital Solidarity"), those who fail, it is only because they do not want to innovate digitally and do not want to adapt the tools that will allow them to carry on their business commercial.

For those who sell food of all kinds, the large operators of large-scale distribution with their e-commerce sites will continue to erode their sales as eCommerce has now become a daily resource in purchases of all kinds.

Neighbors and Connected Digital Solidarity: 5 reasons for eCommerce

We can see the data published by Mark up related to a search of the observatory of the Milan Polytechnic:

How can we defend ourselves with a small shop in a market that moves the eCommerce shares by 1.1 billion euros more than in 2019, which all represent less sales for small businesses?

As we can see it is no less clothing that with eCommerce grows by 700 million euros and, even in this case, all sales are subtracted from traditional commerce.

The need for eCommerce and digital innovation is so evident and not to be overestimated.

The challenge we took up (Digital Solidarity) and the initiative in which we entered (Close and Connected) is a clear message to the whole world of traditional commerce: now is the time to act, also given the commercial conditions and low-cost digitization offers. Visit our offer dedicated to this page: #VicinieConnessi and #SolidarityDigitale
  • Twitter: @InnovationGov
  • Facebook: @DepartmentTransformationDigital
  • Linkedin: Department for Digital Transformation

Digital Solidarity Neighbors and Connected Initiative: reactions

The Vicini e Connessi initiative, sponsored through the Digital Solidarity portal, immediately found favor with businesses, in fact, Confesercenti defined it as "concrete support for the digitization of micro and small businesses and in particular for neighborhood shops and shops" with a note dated 18 November 2020 reported here:
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