The pandemic has brought a landmark change in the way we trade and do businesses today. However, there was already an underlying problem with Trade Promotions before the COVID-19 crisis. Recent study in 2020, Deloitte presents an insight to the company average spending of 7-10% of their gross sales in Trade Promotion.

Impact of Trade promotion for Sustainable Development

According to the IMF the rate of failure within SMEs saw a steep rise of 9% due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Most concerning days are yet to come when the SMEs globally serving 90% of the businesses and employing around 50% - are forced to close (DHL, 2020). Bellmann and Tipping (2015), article reports 17 Sustainable Development goals for 2030 Development Agenda, was endorsed by the UN Assembly. The agenda aimed to institute a number of ambitious goals and targets that were intended to address eradication of poverty, ensuring food security, utilization of natural resources and clean energy issues. With lack of new International financial commitments, the implementation process can seriously hinder the trade and trade flow policies.

Current challenges for Trade Promotion 

    1.   With transparency, faith and confidence can be installed in trade and global markets. It is inevitable to establish a stable and transparent base of information. This will constitute in building an effective actionable national guideline with the international community - to streamline the trade. Countries implementing the trade-related proposals to curb COVID-19 can share it with WTO. OECD is developing Agricultural Policies by monitoring and evaluating the response to COVID-19 on the production of agricultural food and trade by the individual countries.
    2.   Government imposed restrictions during this pandemic can give wrong messages to their people. This can create fear and lead to panic shopping which led to shortages. Although adequate production, panic buying could lead to serious shortages.
    3.   It is crucial to keep the supply chain undisrupted especially during a global crisis. However, the world has experienced the extreme level of shortages of essential supplies such as PPE (personal protective equipment), food and IT products and services. Thereby the responses to ensure streamline and increased trading - the following can be done in the short run:
  • -  Reduce the physical contact with the border security; by digitalization of the process to speed up checks in the medical and food supplies. 
  • -  Secondly people should be encouraged to stay at home for jobs and communicate with each other. This can be ensured by decreasing the tariffs on internet, technology products and digital enablers. This would help maintain the trade via e-commerce, e-payment, e-signatures, etc… 
  • -  And finally supporting the researchers of the medical field to send and receive data regarding COVID-19. This is because the access to right information is crucial to understand the new symptoms and treatments of COVID-19.

Initiatives to develop training programs to educate people

GoTrade by DHL makes it easier for SMEs in developing countries to do business in the marketplace, rather than being restricted under bureaucracy. DHL realised existing problems in trade, with slow custom clearance process, bottlenecks and high costs while crossing the border. Thereby DHL works along with government bureau and international companies. This improves the existing problems by promoting trade across borders and enabling a healthy environment for SMEs. Furthermore, DHL launched Trade processes and E-commerce in Africa with cooperation of the Federal Ministry of Germany - to promote Digital customs. This initiative in 2020, involved the African companies to undergo online customs procedures and new E-commerce programs to establish markets in contemporary places. 

Trade Promotion Management process

Deloitte, identifies the Trade Promotion Management process into 3 major steps. And their sales teams find 3 key issues to not only get Trade promotion management right but to successfully  transform the theory into reality. The key issues are as follows: 

  1. Developing a guideline: Inconsistent implementation

Although it is suggested to prioritize promotion expenses based on point-of-sales performance, in reality companies only pay small amounts based on sell-out. Moreover, 40% in a survey confirmed at least 20% promotion events are designed for online channels.

  1. Building a plan: Lack of Transparency

Even with increased investments on trade promotions,  discrepancies due to lack of transparency are mostly noticeable among consumer goods manufacturers. Thereby, companies should compare forecasting data and actual results to designate and adjust spending. 

  1. Activating promotions: Volume-focused metrics. Success is measured by increased volume and only 1/3rd companies used ROI (return on investment) to measure profitability. 

Framework  for Trade Promotion Management

Apart from identifying the key issues and aspects of Trade Promotion Management, Deloitte, recognizes the importance of digitalization. The framework for enabling Trade Promotion Management through Digitalization are:

  • Culture and Mindset. Organizational attitude and performance culture promote effective internal promotion management, overlooking the external relationships. This leads to unsuccessful partnerships and conflict of interest between the retailers.
  • Organization and processes. Usually there are different units such as sales, marketing and finance in an organization. And people who work in these departments are usually expected to integrate information from multiple departments in one process. This leads to inefficient data storage and management.
  • Data visibility and integration of 3rd party data. Visibility of data is the fundamental element of analytics of data in the future. Therefore, to measure success of trade promotion companies need to instill transparent and competent systems to incorporate 3rd party data.
  • Technology and Analytics. Apart from few, currently no companies have trust in monitoring processes for forecasting channels of customer and store level data storage.

To proceed with your very own trade promotion, Deloitte, 2020 leaves some suggests:

  1. Access the status quo: Where are you currently standing? Can you identify your weak points?
  2. Develop a vision: Where do you see yourself with trade promotion?
  3. Build a roadmap: How would you transform the plan into action? What will be required to change the status quo drastically?
  4. Assign responsibilities: Who will be responsible to bring change and question the conventional non-translucent promotion spent?


In the final note, Trade promotion organizations can adopt the digital tools for the services offered to small businesses. It is time for online platforms to be better leveraged to present businesses internationally and not just reach desired communities, but to facilitate data collection and analysis, and assess customer needs. E-market solutions and social media platforms can be introduced in events such as trade shows - to encourage E-commerce. Both public and private companies can work towards partnerships for a collective effort towards the Digitalization of Trade Promotion.

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