TIRANA (Albania), September 24 (SeeNews) - Building trust in Albania’s nascent e-commerce market remains the main challenge to the development of the sector, Valer Pinderi, manager and shareholder of local company Aladini Trade Partner told SeeNews.
The big physical retail companies do not tend to invest in e-commerce even though they think this sector is the future, Pinderi told SeeNews in a recent interview.
These companies still hesitate to pursue long-term investments in online trading and they are not committed to building trust in this relatively new sector of Albania's economy, Pinderi added.
“I think people will buy online if we provide them with the right service and content,” he went on to say, noting that the success of e-commerce has been evidenced during the pandemic when many people and businesses turned their attention to online services in order to avoid physical contact.
According to Pinderi, high informality of the e-commerce sector in Albania is one of the main impediments to winning the trust of customers. Some 70% of around 3,000 online traders operating in Albania remain outside the regulatory systems, posing a serious risk to the future development of e-commerce in the country, Pinderi said.
Pinderi said that the government should play a more active role in implementing the right policies in order to promote the growth of companies in e-commerce and thus acknowledge their potential in the economy and in creating new jobs.
For example, a state-backed scheme for bank loans guarantees can help the sector's further development, said Pinderi.
“Currently, I employ more than 40 people. If I have a loan backed by a state guarantee I can invest in improving the service and build trust among customers that would lead to higher sales and increased employment.”
Pinderi said that Aladini Trade Partner has a very ambitious plan for expanding in Southeast Europe, starting with the market of Kosovo, to be followed by North Macedonia, Turkey and Italy. “Next year we will focus on Kosovo and start testing the market in order to understand what kind of processes we need to put in place for our future strategy. We plan to turn into a regional e-commerce company that produces products in Turkey and sell them in the region and elsewhere in Europe.”
The company currently operates five online platforms – Aladini, Bukunist, Beba, Ide Dhuratash and Sekreti dedicated to a wide range of products. Aladini Trade Partner plans to add a sixth platform focused on online food deliveries.
“In the future we also plan to offer services on e-commerce marketing in Albania by following the example of US-based company Groupon,” Pinderi said, adding that the company intends to expand operations in Albania by adding a team specialized in content creation, digital marketing and promotion.
Pinderi founded the company under the name Nettrade in 2012. In 2018, Albanian investment group Balfin acquired a majority stake and invested 1 million euro by 2020 in restructuring the company that until then had been known for its online trading platform Dyqan Taxi. After the departure of Balfin group in 2020, the company was opened to new investors and changed its name to Aladini Trade Partner the same year, Pinderi said.
The main shareholder of Aladini Trade Partner is local businessmen Spiro Naci with 32% interest, followed by Pinderi with 20%, Julian Lesi with 14.5%, and Gerti Boshnjaku with 5%. As much as 25% of shares are open to new investors while the rest is controlled by a number of minority shareholders, Pinderi noted.
The company inspired by the Amazon business model had an average annual turnover of 1.7 million euro in the last three years in Albania's highly fragmented e-commerce market worth an estimated 85 million euro ($99.6 million), Pinderi said.
Aladini's online sales grew by 20%-30% in the last three years. The company aims to double its sales next year and explore international markets for a potential private equity or venture capital financing in order to further consolidate its market position and support expansion plans.
($ = 0.85308 euro)