Building a digital bridge: E-commerce driving trade, increased market access in Solomon Islands
Sam Mulawa, Country Coordinator – Solomon Islands
KlikPei, an e-commerce platform launched in November 20223 is providing an online marketplace to ease the exchange of goods and services for businesses and customers in Solomon Island.
An inclusive digital marketplace can improve market access for MSMEs and open up new distribution channels to preserve trade for locally-produced goods and services, primarily supporting the informal sector.
As Pacific countries emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, these digital tools will support equitable recovery in the region that leaves no-one behind.
KlikPei is an e-commerce solution that aims to establish a digital trade corridor between the capital and economic hub of Honiara and the Western Province (Gizo), targeting MSMEs. The two locations lie nearly 400 kilometres apart and physical trade between them is challenging in the best of times.
Klikpei was developed to bridge this distance to support increased trading opportunities, poverty alleviation and economic growth.
For MSMEs in the remote provinces of Solomon Islands, access to an online marketplace where they can have their products recognised and advertised in the open market is a major challenge. In regions like the Western Province, travel to the capital city is quite expensive and arduous; local entrepreneurs have to take a 24-hour boat ride to sell their goods in Honiara.
The geographical barrier denies rural MSMEs the market access their urban counterparts enjoy, limiting growth opportunities.
KlikPei will address this lack of accessibility by making these e-commerce services available to customers right at their front doors, without the need for costly and lengthy travel to Honiara.
The platform offers a straightforward channel and market access for rural MSMEs to sell their products to Honiara customers directly. Deliveries can also be done within Honiara and to Gizo.
KlikPei’s value proposition for MSMEs are:
- Provide MSMEs an avenue or channel for setting up and maintaining an online presence
- KlikPei will facilitate promoting and advertising the MSMEs products
- KlikPei will facilitate in logistics of moving the goods from seller to buyer
- KlikPei will facilitate payments’ movement from the buyer to the seller’s account/e-wallet
Solomon Islands has just finalised drafting the National e-commerce Strategy 2022-2027 that was developed with the support of the Pacific Digital Economy Programme (PDEP), a joint initiative of the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and UN Development Programme (UNDP), with funding from the Australian Government.
KlikPei’s founding was inspired by the strategy, which aims to radically change the nature of doing business in the country by making the trading of goods and services convenient and accessible through digital channels, especially for MSMEs.
KlikPei integrates digital payment methods and is accessible via a website and mobile application. It will be backed by an internet café in Gizo, in the country’s Western Province, that will act as an e-commerce hub.
It will facilitate trade between the Honiara-Western Province corridor and thereafter scale to other provinces. This was done with the intention of adapting technology from abroad to the special infrastructure and logistical context of the Solomon Islands.
The platform provides a wide range of goods and services: Customers can use KlikPei to buy necessities like food, groceries, electronics, arts and crafts, and locally made products.
The app and website both support digital payment methods like mobile money and also has a cash on delivery option. The intention is to eventually incorporate debit and credit card payments through Visa and Mastercard to make transactions even more convenient and secure.
Address tracking and delivery is made easy through notification alerts on the platform when a product has been purchased and delivered to the right customer.
The launch of KlikPei will enable MSMEs to access new markets, while building a digital bridge between rural and urban markets. This will lower transaction costs, make it simpler to trade, promote digital financial inclusion and enhance business competition by providing a level playing field through e-commerce.
An e-commerce platform like this has significant potential to provide underserved populations, including youth, women, and rural populations, access to the economic opportunities and access to new technology that will promote digital literacy. Over 15 MSMEs have already signed on to KlikPei before the launch, with more expected to join in the near future.
KlikPei is a way forward for the Solomon Islands in strengthening its digital economy and towards ensuring that no-one is left behind in efforts to foster greater financial inclusion in the country.