UPS (NYSE:UPS) today announced the results of its 2018 UPS Business Monitor™ Export Index Latin America (BMEI). The BMEI report provides insights and trends into the import and export behavior of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), a segment that generates 60 percent of employment in Latin America1. The study identifies areas of improvement for companies to strengthen their business dealings, helping them understand the critical factors of cross-border trade transactions and provide key insights about SME’s decision-making criteria.
The 2018 BMEI, conducted in conjunction with the RGX Global Export Network, surveyed 2,082 small- and medium-sized exporters and importers in 12 Latin American countries including the United States from the industrial manufacturing, automotive and high-tech industries. In addition, in-depth interviews were conducted to 16 leading government agency officials and industry leaders from private entities whose expertise lies in foreign trade and e-commerce. Their insights provided regional, country-specific, and industry background and contextual information.
“As Latin America experiences a greater export and import growth amongst SMEs, we want to equip this sector with a deeper understanding of cross-border transactions to help them design a strategy that bridges gaps between exporters and importers,” said Ingrid Ritter, marketing director for the Americas Region, UPS.
Main Study Insights
The study’s focus on importers (buyers) and exporters (sellers) reveals strategic insight into four areas of improvement for exporters and importers to strengthen their business dealings and drive transactional flows.
In the BMEI 2018, exporters were asked to assess their competitive advantages, leaving price and product quality aside. Exporters in the total sample named shipping and logistics services as their main competitive advantage with 26% choosing this response.
Furthermore, the study reveals a categorical effect of shipping and logistics services on online sales. In the case of exporters who said their online sales have increased, 41% cited shipping and logistics services offered to their clients as the main competitive advantage.
Seventy-three percent of surveyed importers in Latin America confirmed they are making online purchases, whereas only 56% of exporters in the region sell their products online. Seventy percent of all Latin American importers cited making purchases online via their suppliers’ websites.
Importers cited that their biggest obstacle making online transactions was insufficient or incomplete product information such as product description, photos and tech specs, available on the supplier’s website or third-party e-marketplaces.
The use of online channels for conducting business transactions still lags behind traditional channels, such as telephone, face to face and fax. However, the study revealed that importers demonstrated a greater tendency than exporters to adopt online channels for transactions.
Twenty-nine percent of exporters who reported an increase in online sales cited that buyers indicated they wanted to make their purchases online as the primary driver for the rise in sales.
U.S.-based exporters indicated a higher acceptance of credit cards and PayPal (39%) than their counterparts in Latin America (10%), but penetration levels of digital payment methods are low even in the U.S.
The overall impact of online sales and purchases on transaction costs has been minimal with 57% of exporters and 50% of importers reporting no change. Furthermore, 28% of exporters and 34% of importers reported an increase in transaction costs, highlighting the fact that digital does not necessarily mean cheaper.
Importing and exporting SMEs are fairly aligned in terms of identifying the main pain points in the supplier buyer relationship. The most critical aspects of cross-border transactions – price and product quality aside – coincide. Both parties cited shipping and logistics solutions, flexible payment terms, and after-sales support/services as the top three critical aspects of the supplier-buyer relationship.
Eighty- eight percent of importers said they would consider switching suppliers, highlighting the high likelihood among importers to change if they are offered better terms and conditions. This small group cited “good price/quality ratio of supplier’s product(s)” (44%) and “long-standing supplier/buyer relationship” (35%) as the two main reasons for why they would not switch suppliers.
In the BMEI 2018 study, the majority of exporters and importers indicated they experience delivery delays (63% and 79%, respectively). The leading cause of delivery delays cited by both parties was production delays.
Regarding payment flows, automotive is the industry with the highest level of credit card acceptance for online transactions (23% vs. 18% for the total sample) and use of PayPal (18% vs. 9% for the total sample).
In online flows, the gap between exporters’ and importers’ use of online channels identified in the total sample persists in the breakdown by industry, with the biggest gap emerging in industrial manufacturing (18 percentage points) and the smallest gap in high-tech (10 percentage points).
For more information and press materials on the BMEI study, please visit www.pressroom.ups.com
About 2018 UPS Business Monitor™ Export Index Latin America
The BMEI Study included interviews from 2,082 exporters and importers responsible for international purchases from the following industries: Industrial Manufacturing (33%), Automotive (33%), and High-Tech (33%). The study was conducted in eleven countries including: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and the United States. With the findings based on the responses from the 2,082 exporters and importers in hand, a panel of 16 experts was consulted. The respondents were asked a series of questions through the phone. The selected exporters and importers had to have performed at least five import or export transactions in the 12 months prior to the interview. The BMEI was commissioned by UPS and conducted by the RGX Global Export Network.
UPS (NYSE: UPS) is a global leader in logistics, offering a broad range of solutions including transporting packages and freight; facilitating international trade, and deploying advanced technology to more efficiently manage the world of business. Headquartered in Atlanta, UPS serves more than 220 countries and territories worldwide. UPS was awarded America’s Best Customer Service company for Shipping and Delivery services by Newsweek magazine; Forbes Most Valuable Brand in Transportation; and top rankings on the JUST 100 list for social responsibility, the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, and the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient, among other prestigious rankings and awards. The company can be found on the web at ups.com or pressroom.ups.com and its corporate blog can be found at longitudes.ups.com. The company’s sustainability eNewsletter, UPS Horizons, can be found at ups.com/sustainabilitynewsletter. To get UPS news direct, follow @UPS_News on Twitter. To ship with UPS, visit ups.com/ship.
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