UPS recently commissioned a survey to better understand the e-commerce aspirations and challenges of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in nine countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America.
The results showed the eagerness of SMEs to use e-commerce to export beyond their home market and how COVID-19 brought about unexpected obstacles.
SMEs in the UAE faced three main challenges with e-commerce sales during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Attracting new customers and increasing sales (95%)
- Increasing marketing and advertising (89%)
- Providing customer services and managing returns (84%)
For e-commerce export, the majority of UAE SMEs identified the following additional barriers:
- Processing international e-payments
- Dealing with the complexities of collecting taxes from customers and/or presenting VAT to companies
- Understanding the costs related to customs
- Protecting intellectual property rights
UAE SMEs recommended the following improvements to government support:
- Providing SMBs updates on new laws passed during COVID-19
- Introducing supportive policies for SMB e-commerce activity
- Assisting SMBs with calculating the costs related to domestic and international shipping and customs duties
10 percent of UAE SMEs benefited from government programs, such as the elimination of some government fees and reduction of costs for commercial licenses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The full report and findings of the survey can be downloaded here. The survey was conducted from March to May 2021 across nine countries with differing levels of e-commerce maturity: Canada, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the UAE, the UK and Vietnam.