Local artisans in Central Asia reinforce their online sales

31 mayo 2022
ITC News

ITC assists artisans in Central Asia in cross-border e-commerce by boosting their existing online shops

Today, market demand for handcrafted products, especially home accessories and decor, is increasing as consumers in markets such as Europe, Japan and the United States are interested in unique and sustainable fashion and home design. Therefore, having an online store on international marketplaces is becoming vital for small businesses to reach international consumers. 

As part of the EU-funded Ready4Trade Central Asia project, the International Trade Centre (ITC) launched in 2021 its e-commerce enterprise capacity building in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to support 200 small businesses from the handicraft, textile and agribusiness sectors to sell through new online channels. 

In addition to trainings and one-on-one coaching on various online channels, businesses receive targeted support on how to work with specific marketplaces. The ITC ecomconnect/Ready4Trade initiative provided capacity building to 10 artisans producing clothing, accessories, home accessories and décor from Uzbekistan to conduct cross-border e-commerce by boosting their online stores on Etsy. 

As part of Etsy’s eLab, ITC’s ecomConnect team provided workshops on optimizing visual branding, customer experience, advertising, and analytics for Etsy. After each workshop, individual coaching improved the artisans’ skills. Editorial and visual guidelines help boost their visibility and offer better customer service. 

Through the eLab, the artisans created or updated their listings and developed their store policies, including the Privacy Policy, Delivery, Payment options, Returns and exchanges policies. Each shop was audited and optimized. As a result, the conversion rate increased by 42% in January, compared to September 2021 when the eLab started. 

Success stories

For instance, in February 2022, BahmalUz store earned their first Star Seller Badge since they opened the shop in June 2020, while the number of visitors at Farrukh Hand Craft store increased by over 110% after the training.

Co-owner Farrukh Ergashev says: “The Etsy eLab helped us a lot in reaching new customers and improving sales. Initially, our store did not have high visibility among international clients. Now we improved it significantly by creating new e-commerce content with keywords. We worked together with ITC on the SEO optimization and Etsy algorithms. Before this eLab, we had only two sales on Etsy, but after our optimization we registered 14 new sales, which is a great result for the type of products we manufacture – unique handmade silk-embroidered home décor”.

To date, participants of eLab made over 300 Etsy sales to international customers worth more than $40,000, taking ownership of managing their Etsy shop. 

About the project 

Uzbekistan is one of the five beneficiary countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project, funded by the European Union with €15 million, and implemented by ITC. The e-commerce trainings were also launched in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and include up to 200 participating small businesses. 

The Ready4Trade Central Asia project is a joint initiative of the European Union and the International Trade Centre. It aims to contribute to the overall sustainable and inclusive economic development of Central Asia by boosting intra-regional and international trade in the region. Beneficiaries of the Ready4Trade Central Asia project include governments, small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular women-led enterprises, and business support organizations.