New measures to help city commerce go digital

A clutch of new programmes and measures are to be implemented in the next few months to help commercial establishments in Barcelona go digital at a time when physical establishments really need to. The goal is to facilitate the digital transformation of commerce and hospitality in the neighbourhoods and give them a competitive edge, help them come of digital age and respond to the needs of digital consumers.

14/06/2020 10:35 h

Ajuntament de Barcelona

The increase in e-commerce of the last few years has gained speed and been further consolidated during lockdown. A plan was put into place to reactivate commerce from the moment the state of emergency was decreed, and now the intention is to promote further action and pave the way for the future scenario with the following measures:

Subsidies to support the digital transformation

A new line of subventions with an overall budget of 500,000 euros is being made available for the digital transformation of local commerce and neighbourhood bars and restaurants, representing a 66% increase compared to the 300,000 euros budget from last year. The overall figure can also be increased if demand warrants it.

The subsidies can be applied for from 22 July to 21 August via the City Council’s e-headquarters or at citizen help and information offices for natural persons not obliged to deal with the administration online. The subsidy will cover 50% of the cost of projects, up to a maximum of 7,500 euros.

Providing they are located in ground floor on-street premises and legally registered in Barcelona, the following establishments can apply for subsidies:

  • Individual retail shops.
  • Stalls at municipal markets. The rest of collective retail establishments will be excluded.
  • Individual commercial establishments providing the following services:
    • Mechanical workshops and repair services
    • Photographic and audio-visual services
    • Photocopy and graphic arts services
    • Repairs and services
    • High street travel agents
    • Laundries and dry-cleaners
    • Hairdressers and beauty saloons
    • Pre-prepared food and catering
    • Bars and restaurants
    • Vet clinics with physical premises

In line with these needs, subsidies will be offered for four types of projects.

  • Basic or extended internet presence.
  • Active internet presence.
  • Transformation of commercial establishments and digital hospitality.
  • Digitalisation of establishment processes.

Online training for owners and workers

Cibernàrium, the technological skills and dissemination service run by Barcelona Activa, will be offering specific online training to improve the digital skills and know-how of people in commerce and hospitality. The training will include two stages:

  • Over 52 free online courses with 130 hours of training. The courses are organised into teaching blocks, setting out the various lessons with a potential user base of 52,000 people a month.
  • Once the courses are under way, a technical board is to be set up for monitoring and identifying new areas of knowledge where work can be done to help train the commercial sector. Based on this analysis, new content will be created using a virtual classroom format, with sessions of between 90 and 120 minutes.

Personalised digitalisation plans

Technical support has been specially created to assist small companies and the self-employed in the design and implementation of their own personalised plan to go digital. The support can be requested through the Business Support Office and the Barcelona Activa website. It is aimed at companies with their legal base in the Barcelona metropolitan area and a maximum of ten workers. The support is structured into three stages:

  • Initial analysis to determine the degree of digitalisation of the company and the possibilities for improvement.
  • Advice for creating the digitalisation plan based on the initial analysis and suggested online training needed for those in charge.
  • Support to implement the digitalisation plan and monitor the fulfilment of goals.

Study on emerging digital skills in commerce and hospitality

The Fundació BCN Formació Professional, along with professional guilds, associations and companies from the commerce and hospitality sector, are carrying out field work to pinpoint significant figures on the current situation and the skills and profiles needed for the digital transformation of the sector in Barcelona. The results should be ready in the autumn.

Another study will be carried out in January to analyse the effects of the digital transformation measures implemented in commerce, to attain more first-hand information on the sector.

Unique website market for city commerce as a whole

A website market is being created which includes all the existing platforms and establishments in the city. The new platform will allow customers to buy products and services directly and to access each service’s own website. This tool should bring together the various existing platforms into a single space for online sales.

Uses of the new platform will include:

  • Filtering of establishments by the products they offer: books, electronic items, toys, pets, hairdressers etc.
  • Map by district and by neighbourhood to find all the shops in a certain area to which a filter is applied.
  • Information on each shop.
  • Link to WhatsApp or a chat, instant messaging or videocall service.
  • Appointment service by internet.
  • Possibility of telematic payment.
  • Information on delivery and collection system or tracking.
  • Special times for the elderly and other groups.
  • Marketing: recommendations on similar products, comments and personalisation of each shop’s website.

Work is also being done on a website market for the city’s 42 municipal markets, which is due to be operative at the end of the year. The idea is for all of the markets to have their own ‘window’ on the platform, with all the stalls which wish to participate from each market.


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