Research conducted by UPS across Europe identifies the needs of SMEs. With the COVID-19 pandemic, SMEs have had the opportunity to explore the power of e-commerce to businesses and the wide possibilities offered by digital marketing. UPS, the global logistics leader that supports SMEs on their growth journey, has prepared a study to better understand the challenges businesses face and how the booming e-commerce market can help them grow and compete in a rapidly changing global economy. A survey was prepared in cooperation with Nathan Associates, which provides international consultancy services in the field of economics. It also published a report as a result of the survey that more than 1.000 SMEs participated across Europe.
SMEs also focus on e-commerce in the country
Supporting the Growth of SMEs: Initiating Healing Through E-commerce The study gathered information on the priorities, challenges and trends of SMEs in the field of e-commerce sales and logistics both at home and abroad. In most of the countries surveyed, the biggest challenges related to the pandemic faced by SMEs have been reduced face-to-face sales and supply chain disruptions. The report shows that e-commerce is the top priority for SMEs across European countries when it comes to domestic sales. In most countries, more SMEs have started selling online since the start of the pandemic. The majority of SMEs listed online domestic sales as their top business priority.
A simple, equitable and green ecosystem is needed
In the prepared report, the inferences obtained from the survey results are gathered under three main headings:
- Simple: SMEs wishing to export need simpler regulations and customs costs to grow. Reducing these barriers to trade can help businesses grow their exports by increasing access to new markets.
- Equitable: Although women entrepreneurs' businesses are more likely to sell online, they are likely to face different obstacles, especially financial difficulties. In this context, e-export can also help reduce the gender pay gap.
- Green: Most SMEs say they want to be more environmentally friendly. They are looking for partners and suppliers that offer sustainable services and materials.
Speaking about the report that UPS has implemented across Europe, Burak Kılıç, UPS Turkey Country Manager He said: “It is of vital importance for SMEs to be able to open up to the world and to be able to do e-commerce. With the research we have done, we have tried to find out where the businesses need while embarking on this journey. We also reported the resulting data and shared it with all our stakeholders, especially the decision makers. In summary, while SMEs demand a simpler, digital and faster process in customs processes in e-export, they also need to be supported in terms of knowledge and expertise when opening up to new markets. At UPS, we strive to create a safer, sustainable and responsive ecosystem for them. If all stakeholders are involved in this process, national shares from global e-exports, which represent enormous potential for economies, will also increase. At UPS, we will continue to support SMEs and economies with the expertise, knowledge and data we generate.”
Collaborations that grow the ecosystem add value to SMEs
The report emphasized that governments, private sector and NGO collaborations have an important role in supporting SMEs to take advantage of the opportunities emerging from the growing e-commerce markets, and also offers suggestions for all stakeholders by taking advantage of the results:
- Developing the digital capabilities of SMEs
- Trainings and information portals; should provide information on starting and running an e-commerce business, online marketing, digital laws and regulations, shipping and logistics, and international trade.
- Supporting supply chain resilience
- SMEs identified supply chain disruptions as a major challenge. These disruptions can range from a lack of availability to a lack of transparency in the supply chain to increased raw material costs to shipping delays. Both decision makers and logistics partners can work together to assist SMEs in assessing supply chain weaknesses, inventory management, technology solutions to better map resources, and efficient and cost-effective shipping and delivery services.
- Easy access to export-related information
- The majority of SMEs in all countries surveyed listed access to international trade-related information as their primary challenge and priority to support e-commerce export sales. As part of efforts to develop SMEs' digital capabilities, governments need to increase access and easy-to-understand information on international markets and trade deals.
- Investing in digital infrastructure
- The surveyed SMEs highlighted the key role of decision makers in providing secure internet access and other digital infrastructure facilities for the development of their e-commerce businesses. In addition to continuing to expand access to high-speed internet in rural areas and other underserved areas, decision makers should raise awareness of digital tools available to SMEs and help them overcome the challenges of e-payment, inventory, returns and contactless delivery management.
- Simplifying trading processes
- To support trade and make cross-border trade more efficient, institutions should prioritize efforts to digitize their customs and tax collection processes to leverage technologies and promote transparency.
- Data management and cybersecurity strategy creation
- National approaches should be developed to ensure that both SMEs and consumers can shop in an environment of trust and protect them from cyber security threats.