The pandemic has pushed growth in some sectors
The biggest potential for growth can be seen in sectors that profit from the dynamic in e-commerce. In the realm of alternative investments, there is a focus on those that bring innovations or improve the quality of customer-service as well as suppliers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of customers who have shifted from traditional retail to e-commerce has increased substantially. While in 2019, the share of e-commerce in the European market was 12 percent of the total retail sector, this year we expect to see this share rise to 16.2 percent. In Slovakia, the overall volume of the e-commerce market was 1 360 million euros, which is an increase of 94 percent compared to the previous four years. The share of e-commerce in the overall domestic market revenue in Slovakia was only 4,6 percent in the previous year. By contrast, it reached 12,7 percent in the Czech Republic. Companies with successfully operating e-shops are attractive targets for investors. GymBeam, which has received an investment of six million through the Crowdberry platform, is a very good example of that (supplemented with capital from the Slovak Investment Holding).
E-commerce as a driving force
The quality of customer service and supplier chains, as well as providing quality distribution and logistics all play a vital role in the e-commerce market, where competition is growing. Modern fulfillment centers furnish solutions for complex distribution processes – from the moment a customer places their products into the cart and confirms their order until their purchase is delivered. The entire logistics chain is often completed within a time frame of 24 to 48 hours, even if the merchandise has to travel thousands of kilometers. As a result of the pandemic, e-shops have to manage the delivery of orders whose volume in some cases has doubled, tripled or grown even more. At the same time, they are under pressure to ensure the quality of customer service. For many of them, outsourcing is the most efficient and cost-effective way to perform. Providers with fully automated processes see themselves at an advantage. The Slovak isklad.eu is a company with the potential to compete with big global players.
Commercial real estate
Investors on the conservative side will appreciate the opportunity of pouring their money into commercial real estate. The demand for such real estate is connected to the acceleration on the e-commerce market as well as logistics and delivery services. Slovakia is an attractive market for global players. Crowdberry enables investors to acquire shares in real-estate-projects. With the help of professional developers, they can purchase objects that are currently being constructed or in the final stages of completion – and thus directly participate in their growth and success. Currently, there are several investment opportunities on the platform from the industrial real estate segment, including a recently launched KLM real-estate-campaign, a great opportunity to invest in a logicistics-warehouse that has already been built and comes with a ten-year-lease.
Solutions that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and augmented reality could play an important role in the area of quality customer service, automated processes and even replace physical contact. The Slovak company nettle.ai is currently developing an advanced conversational AI-technology (chatbots, commercial bots and HR bots), which will help companies communicate with their customers, saving both expenses and time, providing custom solutions for big technical companies or companies in the telecommunications and banking sectors. The Slovak platform Akular provides cloud-based solutions with the help of augmented-reality. Thanks to its simple application and installation it is used by real-estate-developers who present their projects to clients who can walk through multiple floors virtually without having to leave their office. The pandemic has most definitely accelerated the digitalization and the success of tech companies will depend on how well they can accommodate this trend.