Armengol with supporters of the retail and commerce plan. | Teresa Ayuga


A programme entitled "iCommerce, Innovation and Proximity" was launched yesterday by President Armengol and trade minister, Iago Negueruela. It is one designed to enable the retail sector in particular to adapt to changing consumer demands while also promoting technological innovation and emphasising local trade (which is what is meant here by proximity).

The retail sector contributes some 10.3% to Balearic GDP, but the government is seeking to boost its competitiveness. Armengol said: "This is a programme being developed in the context of economic recovery on behalf of a strategic sector which provides 17.2% of all employment and which will also be a stimulus to municipalities and neighbourhoods."

Minister Negueruela added: "We want to give a boost to the distribution of commerce on the islands, basing this on a Mediterranean trade model of proximity. The programme, iCommerce, will guide policies of public administrations and commercial organisations in further developing trade in each municipality."

At present, there are 24 municipalities involved at different phases of its implementation. It is, however, open to all town halls, and they will be taking it on.

The programme has been developed by the trade and business department at the ministry along with various associations, such as Afedeco, Pimeco and the Balearic Trade Confederation. It consists of an open software web platform that has a range of services, such as geolocation of businesses, factual descriptions, services offered, promotions, search facility and connections to social networks. It also allows online sales channels to be created for e-commerce, i.e. online sales and distribution. Further value comes from it being available as an app for Android, with the particular idea of promoting local marketing through a notification facility.

Other aspects of the programme include fostering training, commercial co-operation, partnerships and loyalty campaigns, while there are possibilities for designing strategic plans for towns' markets and improving commercial infrastructure.

The government is highlighting the particularly innovative element of a multidisciplinary focus through the participation of local authorities, business groups, restaurant associations and professional bodies, such as the college of architects. The dean of this college has signed an agreement with the trade ministry under which technical advice will be given to each municipality on the implementation of the programme.