New research shows that small- and medium-sized businesses in Canada are still lagging behind the curve when it comes to integrating ecommerce into their operations.

The study commissioned by UPS Canada shows the overwhelming majority (81 per cent) agreed that mobile and digital communications were the way of the future when it comes to business growth. Yet about one in five businesses polled (21 per cent) said they aren’t engaging in any form of ecommerce — a number that has stagnated since the 2014 version of this report.

“We were surprised by this year’s report, considering that more people are purchasing online than ever before,” said Mark Tabor, vice president of marketing at UPS Canada, in a statement. “Year-over-year growth of online sales in both B2C and B2B channels shows us that customers want – and expect – vendors to have e-commerce capabilities and, without them, these businesses risk losing customers in a competitive marketplace.”

Taking the leap into ecommerce seemed to be one of the biggest challenges respondents faced. Businesses obviously understand its importance but are struggling with sourcing and managing the resources necessary to integrate ecommerce. Nearly half (46 per cent) of the 81 per cent of respondents who believe e-commerce is essential said their primary obstacle when considering digital shopping solutions was “supporting online platforms with consistent, excellent customer service.” Respondents also listed other barriers to success, including ongoing management and coordination of a seamless supply chain and delivery system, which was a concern for 39 per cent of respondents (a spike from 30 per cent in last year’s findings).

UPS Canada’s annual “Small Business Challenges” survey compiled the responses of more than 300 respondents from across Canada that spent a minimum of $5,000 yearly in shipping costs.

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