Tech Drives Trade Growth, Say Upbeat SMEs
Small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) struggling for equal footing in the global economy increasingly look to cross-border trade for growth, seeing technology as a way past obstacles in shipping and compliance, according to new research from Shipa Freight.
Shipa Freight’s global study of 800 SMEs from developed and emerging markets shows smaller companies are remarkably upbeat about their ability to expand through trade.
Eighty-nine percent of exporting SMEs surveyed say their export revenue will grow over the next three years; 71 percent say they are concentrating more on international markets than on their home markets. The Shipa Freight survey included exporters and importers from the United States, UK, Germany, Italy, China, India, Indonesia, and UAE.
Smaller companies account for an estimated 95 percent of all businesses and employ two-thirds of the world’s workers. Critics of globalization have argued that decades of efforts aimed at easing the flow of goods, capital, and jobs across borders have come at the expense of SMEs and disproportionately benefitted multi-nationals and other large businesses.
Three-quarters of SME executives surveyed believe businesses that operate internationally are more resilient. Nearly 80 percent say they use online platforms for freight quotes and bookings.
SMEs that view the UK as one of their top export markets are looking elsewhere because of Brexit. Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has prompted 73 percent of respondents to prioritize trade with other European countries. Sixty percent of UK SMEs that export and 52 percent of UK SMEs that import say leaving the EU Single Market would be "disastrous" for them.
Smaller companies clearly see technology as a way to close the gap with bigger competitors, cope with documentation requirements, and access competitive shipping options. Eighty-six percent say technology is leveling the playing field for SMEs to operate globally; 89 percent believe technology is transforming the logistics sector.