(Photo: Courtesy of eBay)

Xavier Aguirre, Business Development Senior Manager for eBay Latin America, is in charge of helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get started in the world of e-commerce (electronic commerce).

In these times of lockdown due to SARS-CoV-2, internet sales have been a lifesaver for the income of many companies throughout the world. As the quarantine has brought the shutters down on brick-and-mortar points of sale, online offers have provided an alternative for continuing to obtain income and many times reaching new customers.

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Aguirre, who holds a degree in industrial and systems engineering from the Santa Fe campus of Tecnológico de Monterrey, has been at the head of helping SMEs go digital so they can access new markets via the eBay platform for the past four years.

Those interested are chosen and supported with a strategy that includes a call for applications, follow-up, training, and launch for those interested in receiving digital exposure in 190 countries.

When the Covid-19 pandemic began, the company boosted its program for helping business owners go digital with the Always Open on eBay plan.

“Our goal is to invest five million pesos to help 100 business go online. We’re just starting to receive applications, which are made through a survey that is our catalyst for finding those SMEs who are interested in cross-border trade,” says Aguirre in an interview with Tec Review.

Paying attention to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) is a big challenge, as they represent 99.7% of the 6.3 million businesses that exist in Mexico, according to figures from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI).

Conquering new markets

The eBay campaign began in May and the call closes on July 31, so those companies who are interested should get a move on if they want to sign up for the program.

“One of the characteristics we pay attention to is that SMEs who are interested should already have some experience in making local sales, whether through their own page or other marketplaces, because it’s a bit more complicated than selling locally,” says Aguirre.

Even with the pandemic, the online sales sector has not slowed down, and it has demonstrated this since lockdown began. One historic moment for e-commerce came with this year’s recent Hot Sale, when online sales grew up to 350% compared with 2019.

This Tec graduate explains that, as of the end of May, new e-commerce business owners on eBay had increased significantly with respect to the start of the year (when people weren’t yet living in lockdown due to the pandemic).

“In March, April, and May, we saw a lot of growth in some categories, particularly fashion and accessories. We saw nearly 150% more sales in men’s footwear; video games grew by 40%; sales of automobile and motorcycle accessories went up by 25%, mainly mirror covers, mats, and moldings; and finally, we saw a 120% increase in art and collectibles in the area of paintings and drawings,” he says.

The platform has different categories that business owners can take advantage of to list their products worldwide, as have an artisan couple from Michoacán who make traditional Purépecha masks and Marthangela Di Cero, who sends personalized embroidered patches to countries such as Iceland and Andorra.

“People who make cross-border sales through e-commerce have about 55% more sales on average than those just making domestic sales, and they are 8.5% less likely to go bankrupt when they don’t depend on a single market,” emphasizes Aguirre when talking about the importance of diversifying sales, especially during the economic crisis currently being experienced across the globe due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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