New research from Amazon has found that 70% of owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Europe lack confidence on how to scale their businesses online1. 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 (70%), the survey of 2,500 SME owners in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK revealed1.
Potential in omnichannel
The number of SMEs in Europe has been growing, increasing by 18% over the last 14 years (2008-2022)2 and employing almost 84.6 million people in 20223. 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 82% saying they feel the benefits and added value that having a digital sales approach can bring1.
For businesses trying to scale, e-commerce was specifically called out by respondents as benefiting business owners, because it means they are always open (45%), provides an ability for them to sell from anywhere, at any time (44%), and offers access to a wider base of customers (44%)1.
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 10 hours a week looking into how they can scale up and how to cope with more online sales1. This equates to 65 days per year4.
Based on the research findings, business owners are particularly interested in learning more about supply chains, delivery options and logistics, as well as regulation1. 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 online1 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.”
Amazon has a range of tools that can help small businesses to guide them through the process of digitising, from Seller University to the Perfect Launch. In Europe alone, there were over 125,000 SME sellers across Amazon’s stores last year, accounting for the sale of over 1.2 billion products5. To ensure SMEs feel equipped and confident to tackle the challenges that selling or scaling their business online may present, they can explore the following resources.
For businesses seeking further guidance on VAT and compliance:
Compliance Solutions by Amazon - an all-in-one place solution, integrated within Seller Central, that provides compliance solutions across Tax, Environmental, Product and International Trade Compliance categories to support seller growth and expansion.
The VAT Knowledge Centre aims to build sellers’ understanding of the European VAT landscape as an Amazon selling partner and ensure they are confident with scaling online.
Amazon’s resources for businesses looking to make the move to e-commerce include:
Amazon Brand Protection offers a selection of advanced programmes for sellers to protect and build their brand, including Brand Registry, violation reporting, and IP Accelerator.
Amazon Seller University provides educational resources to help businesses, brands and entrepreneurs learn how to succeed as Amazon selling partners.
Amazon Small Business Accelerator offers a suite of free-to-use resources, on topics such as how to build a business online, supercharge operations, grow sales, and create a social media presence - for all start-ups, entrepreneurs, and small or medium-sized businesses.
To explore the tools to help businesses confidently scale their e-commerce operations:
Strategic Account Services provides business advice from a designated Marketplace Consultant – a trusted expert from Amazon who aims to help scale sellers’ businesses, reach new customers, and increase sales.
Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) allows sellers to store their products in Amazon’s fulfilment centres, where we pick, pack, ship and provide customer service for these products, helping customers scale their business.
1. Consumer study conducted by Censuswide of 2,500 SME business owners DE, ES, FR, IT and UK (500 respondents per country) July 2023.
4. Calculation based on an average working day of 8 hours.