Canadian SMEs Still Struggling to Adopt E-Commerce

CA 10/29/15

Mississauga, ON

Study reports that SMEs overwhelmingly want e-commerce solutions, but just aren’t there yet

Despite an enthusiastic 81 per cent agreement that mobile and digital communications are essential to the future growth of their businesses, Canadian small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) continue to lag when it comes to e-commerce. According to UPS (NYSE: UPS) Canada’s fifth annual Small Business Challenges survey, one in five respondents (21 per cent) confirmed they are not currently engaging in e-commerce – a number that remains unchanged from 2014 survey data.

“We were surprised by this year’s report, considering that more people are purchasing online than ever before,” said Mark Tabor, vice president, marketing, UPS Canada. “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.”

Each year, the Small Business Challenges survey asks SMEs about business performance, issues they face and the challenges and barriers that impact their success. When asked what is restricting their business growth this year, the top factors included: changing consumer demands (59 per cent), international trade restrictions (58 per cent) and a lack of available skilled talent (41 per cent). While each of these elements are beyond business’s direct control, it remains clear that an e-commerce strategy is something that SMEs can – and should – be taking action on more proactively in order to break through and compete within a challenging marketplace.  

This year, while survey respondents are aware of the importance of e-commerce and the opportunities mobile and digital communications presents, they continue to face challenges in the form of technical know-how and resourcing to build their capabilities in this area. Almost half (46 per cent), of the 81 per cent of respondents that believe e-commerce is essential listed “supporting online platforms with consistent, excellent customer service” as the top barrier to successful online communication. Listed second was the ongoing management and coordination of a seamless supply chain and delivery system, ranked by 39 per cent of respondents—an increase of almost 10 per cent (up from 30 per cent in 2014).

To help address these challenges, UPS Canada offers services and online tools that can help SMEs build solutions for an omni-channel approach to their business that includes a viable, effective supply chain strategy. UPS also offers incentives such as 20 per cent off shipping when signing up for the UPS Small Business Program.

“We collaborate with our customers to help solve their e-commerce challenges so that they can focus on what they do best, their business,” adds Tabor.

Other findings from the 2015 Small Business Challenges survey include:

  • A mere one-quarter (22 per cent) of respondents reported that their business performance is exceeding expectations, while 26 per cent are flat-out failing to meet them.
  • Supply chain strategies are becoming more of a priority: more than half (52 per cent) of SMEs reported having a supply chain strategy, up from 45 per cent in 2014 – and of those, 43 per cent are leveraging an outside supplier, as compared to 39 per cent in 2014.
  • The cost of staffing is less of a concern for SMEs this year, falling from 64 per cent in 2014 to 47 per cent in 2015 amongst respondents who cited this as a restriction to their business growth.

UPS Canada celebrated Canada’s over 1 million small and medium-sized enterprises during Canadian Small Business Week which took place October 18-24, 2015. For more on UPS’ small business solutions, visit

Leger Survey Methodology:

This survey was completed online from August 24 to September 4, 2015 using Leger’s online panel, LegerWeb, with a sample size of 301 respondents. Individuals working for, or running a small or medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) that currently spends at least $5,000 annually on shipping were interviewed. Only those at or above a director or senior manager level qualified. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 5.7%, 19 times out of 20.

About UPS

UPS (NYSE: UPS) is one of the world’s largest package delivery companies with 2019 revenue of $74 billion, and provides a broad range of integrated logistics solutions for customers in more than 220 countries and territories. The company’s more than 500,000 employees embrace a strategy that is simply stated and powerfully executed: Customer First. People Led. Innovation Driven. UPS is committed to reducing its impact on the environment and supporting the communities we serve around the world. UPS also takes a strong and unwavering stance in support of diversity, equality, and inclusion. The company can be found on the Internet at, with more information at and


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