We talked to Greet Dekocker of SafeShops.be on how to increase the confidence of consumers, companies and governments in e-commerce, and therefore also in webshops and this is what she had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Greet Dekocker: We’re fine. We are having a lot of quality time at home. But we’ve seized this period to upgrade our house and garden. That gave us till now a feeling of being useful.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SafeShops.be
Greet Dekocker: After my commercial engineering studies at the KULeuven, I took my first steps at the Kredietbank (currently KBC for the young ones among us). The eight following years, the marketing vibes got under her skin, so I gained plenty of experience as a marketing manager in the energy sector. As director of BDMA (Belgian Direct Marketing Association), my professional circle flourished.
As a result, the step to co-create SafeShops.be was only a small step. I already had sufficient experience in the associative landscape, but I was looking for a place where people focus on entrepreneurship. And that place was SafeShops.be. It is a knowledge centre for young but also mature e-commerce entrepreneurs and managers. It is a dynamic and characterful environment where I can fully put my entrepreneurship.
How does SafeShops.be innovate?
Greet Dekocker: We’re continually looking for new (digital) services to help our members and clients grow in eCommerce.
In addition to the quality label ‘verified by SafeShops’, we also organize many events and other digital services like a conversion and security check for eCommerce webshops.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Greet Dekocker: Our clients are active in various sectors, ranging from the travel sector to the shoe salesman. Anyone with a webshop can come to us.
Needless to say that this is a difficult period for the travel and event sector. But on the other hand, we see considerable increases in the eCommerce turnover in most other sectors like Pharma, Fashion and Electro. It is, therefore, a year of winners and losers. Fortunately, the majority of our members are on the right side of the balance. It means that we are experiencing a fascinating year in terms of new members and sales of services, but had to cancel all our physical events and training.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Greet Dekocker: We organize several events every year. They ranged from an award show to quite personal training courses, and locations booked, advances paid. As a result, we suddenly had to change course and organize everything digitally via webinar or the better event platforms. I am therefore grateful for the flexibility that my team has shown during this time. Fortunately, these are mainly digital savage people. That helped to make this turn.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Greet Dekocker: The first week after the Belgian lockdown, I slept poorly. But my nature is the nature of looking for opportunities. I try to focus on the positive, on the possibilities. I don’t think I’ve ever been more creative in recent months. Various projects are therefore on the rise for 2021. That gives me a future perspective and absolute peace of mind. You could argue that to some extent this gave me energy, however contradictory this may sound. Now I have to add that I especially miss social contact with friends, family and business relations. The lack of it does not stress me, but it does give me a sense of emptiness.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Greet Dekocker: Our competitors are other associations or certification organizations. We wish to be an organization that is open to small and large companies. Starters can contact us with questions and so can the already mature eCommerce entrepreneur.
Our goal is to offer highly targeted and individually priced services that can make a difference for our members. For example, next year, we also plan online sales events to respond to sustainability and local shopping. We will also provide our members with further information and studies concerning these topics, to perfect themselves in terms of knowledge and appearance.
Your final thoughts?
Greet Dekocker: Although this crisis has not to harm SafeShops.be, I hope we can meet each other soon again more personally. Still, some of the new digital experience we bring to our members will stick. For example, I don’t think I want to go back to the rat race of traffic jams and long journeys. I also believe that a mix of physical and digital events can provide the right balance.
Both the physical and digital approach has its strength in all areas. We will have to find next year the right balance between the two methods.