• June 17, 2021
  • Report

UPS and Nathan Associates present a new report on how small and medium businesses can leverage e-commerce during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis has created unprecedented challenges and uncertainty for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). With the rapid shift towards e-commerce, SMBs have had to swiftly expand their online operations. This has been challenging for many SMBs as they were simultaneously tackling cash flow and supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic. In many economies, SMBs are significant employers and engines of economic growth and their survival during the pandemic is vital.

As a global leader in logistics, UPS, in partnership with Nathan Associates, embarked on a survey to assess the impact of the pandemic on SMBs in nine regionally diverse, developed and developing countries: Canada, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the UAE, the UK and Vietnam. The insights derived from the survey informed the development of policy recommendations geared toward government stakeholders in each of these markets to support the growth of e-commerce and international trade activities for SMBs.

The online survey developed by UPS and Nathan focused on identifying the challenges that SMBs faced in adding and/or expanding their online and international business operations. In each market, local partners supported the online data collection from 50-100 SMBs over a three-month period in March-May 2021. Since definitions for SMBs often vary, survey participants were selected based on the SMB definition used in each market. In total, 752 SMBs were surveyed, representing a variety of sectors, sales methods and models, including business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C), direct, indirect and drop-shipping sales. The survey respondents also varied in terms of business size, level of e-commerce activity and business owner gender.

The main survey topics included:

  • Top challenges SMBs faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Top challenges in the context of e-commerce trade
  • E-commerce regional and global export trends
  • Specific barriers for e-commerce export
  • Barriers for SMBs in expanding to online trade

The report developed from the survey is sectioned into chapters focused on findings from each country, and each chapter ends with policy recommendations based on the challenges identified by the SMBs surveyed. These tailored recommendations identify key areas where new policies could make a difference, including expanding outreach to SMBs, supporting SMBs’ digitization efforts, reforming customs and taxes, and helping SMBs utilize existing trade agreements.

UPS and Nathan Associates are proud to share these insights and policy recommendations to help SMBs thrive in both domestic and international e-commerce.

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