Amazon finds UK SMEs lack confidence to build e-commerce offering
New research from Amazon has found that 72% of owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UK lack confidence on how to scale their businesses online. This is despite the majority recognising the value and growth potential of digitising their businesses.
Some of the main areas where owners would most benefit from support when scaling their businesses are guidance on how to best utilise a logistics support network (73%) and assistance on VAT and customs compliance (67%), the survey of 500 SME owners in the UK revealed.
Potential in omnichannel
The number of SMEs in the UK has been growing, increasing by 22% over the last 12 years (2010-2022) and employing over 16.4 million people in 2022. There is a huge opportunity for many of these SMEs to utilise online selling to extend their reach and sales to a wider customer base, with 83% saying they feel the benefits and added value that having a digital sales approach can bring.
For businesses trying to scale, e-commerce was specifically called out by respondents as benefiting business owners, because it offers access to a wider base of customers (43%), means they are always open (40%), and provides an ability for them to sell from anywhere, at any time (38%).
But SMEs are not sure exactly how to scale up and face challenges and barriers to digitising their operations.
Time investment in learning to increase online earning
Despite the barriers faced, SMEs are determined to find digital success and are investing significant amounts of time in upskilling. Owners spend on average of nine hours a week looking into how they can scale up and how to cope with more online sales. This equates to 59 days per year, based on an average eight-hour working day.
Based on the research findings, business owners are particularly interested in learning more about supply chains, delivery options and logistics, as well as regulation. However, such topics can bring additional pressure for owners, as without an experienced partner on board, the responsibility rests on the seller to ensure they understand the regulations of each country they are selling their goods in and are compliant with those laws.
Partners to help bridge the knowledge gap
Xavier Flamand, VP Amazon Europe Seller Services said: “We understand that launching or scaling an existing e-commerce business can be a daunting, complex, and time-consuming experience for sellers. We want business owners to feel confident and supported in navigating the complexities of topics such as VAT and compliance to ensure that they can transition and grow their businesses smoothly.
“By selling through Amazon, sellers can access a wide variety of tools and expertise, and with 65% of sellers saying they would benefit from customised support to sell their products online Amazon can be a guiding partner in helping to make their business a success. In fact, of those small businesses that are completely confident in scaling up, they are twice as likely to be an Amazon seller.”