Trade & investment

Three steps to enable e-commerce for small business

  • 3 August 2016
Commercial Agency

With global trade flows flat lining, the Internet and digital technologies have a key role to play in boosting global commerce in support of inclusive growth. The Internet is rapidly breaking down traditional barriers to international trade, making it easier for small businesses to go global for the first time.

International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Secretary General John Danilovich is in Silicon Valley this week for a series of high-level meetings with tech giants and startups on how we can accelerate the development of digital trade for the benefit of all.

Here is our vision on how to promote small business growth through e-commerce and digital trade in three simple steps.

1. Enhance awareness and training

Many small businesses worldwide lack exposure to information, as well as technology products and services. They possess little awareness of the e-commerce ecosystem as a whole. In the United Kingdom for example, 38% of small business owners with no website say they lack knowledge on how to use digital technology. More development in training programmes across the globe is required to increase digital literacy among consumers and businesses.

2. Facilitate speedy and cost-effective delivery

When it comes to exporting products via online platforms, SMEs continue to face trade facilitation challenges. Such challenges include burdensome customs administration and long and expensive delivery. In Europe, 15% of companies selling domestically refrain from going global because of excessive transportation costs. By simplifying customs procedures, SMEs could see their cross-border sales increase by 60-80% in some economies.

3. Simplify rules and regulations

Did you know that 46% of European companies that export cross-border say the legal framework is one of the most difficult barriers to overcome? Dealing with different rules and regulations for VAT tariffs, import duties, data privacy and protection is a daunting obstacle for many small businesses.

Standardization and simplification of legal requirements could boost e-commerce sales and allow more SMEs to go online. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), decreasing barriers to cross-border data flows would increase GDP in the United States by 1%.

Follow @JohnDanilovich and @ICCWBO in #SiliconValley this week.