Unlocking SMB growth in the UAE through E-commerce

More than a thousand small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners in nine countries, including the UAE, weighed in on a recent UPS survey to tell us how they’re doing … what’s holding them back and how they’re overcoming obstacles.

According to the findings, of the 115 SMB owners who took part in the survey only a small percentage (11%) engage in exporting, but they all reported that exporting has gotten easier since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Like in 2021, management of e-payments and taxes from international customers continues to be a challenge to SMB exports. Additional challenges in 2022 included facilitation of shipping and trade logistics, and access to information on international markets, trade compliance, and customs requirement.

Why it matters: Helping SMBs reach customers around the world is a top priority at UPS. The more we understand their needs, the more we can develop tools to help them grow and advocate for trade policies that level the playing field. UPS is proud to work with the leadership of Dubai and move the world forward by delivering what matters through initiatives such as the ScaleUp Export program. The program comes under The Entrepreneurial Nation initiative which was launched by the UAE Ministry of Economy in November 2021 and aims to support the capacity of UAE based small businesses to promote their exports and enhance access to global markets.

Three survey takeaways:

  • Digitization and digital marketing support – SMBs need more comprehensive information about processes, laws and regulations, support, and financial incentives to enable their move into e-commerce. They also need assistance to better understand digital marketing platforms, their benefits, and associated costs.
  • Access to export information – SMBs would greatly benefit from easy access to user-friendly portals that offer consolidated market information and guidance for export and trade.
  • Equitable and enhanced financing mechanism – International trade helps reduce the gender wage gap. 44% of the surveyed SMBs were women-owned. The survey found while women-owned SMBs are more likely to sell online, they tend to experience different challenges than SMBs owned by men — particularly with financing. SMBs need increased access to financing facilities and grants to expand into e-commerce.