Amazon hails SME export growth as key to economic innovation in anniversary report

Thu 9 Nov 2023
Posted by: Danielle Keen
Trade News

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Amazon has advocated greater support for SMEs as part of a series of recommendations designed to increase innovation across the economy in a recently published report.

UK country manager John Boumphrey states in the report’s foreword that Amazon is “committed towards supporting small businesses in overcoming the growth barriers they face on issues such as technology adoption and productivity”.

Released to mark 25 years since Amazon began operating in the UK, the report also calls for greater AI adoption, upskilling the UK’s workforce, upgrading infrastructure and amendments to the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, to spur innovation.

Supporting SMEs

The report argues that low productivity among UK SMEs is a factor holding back the UK economy, and identifies innovation as the solution.

Noting the role that e-commerce could play in driving growth, it highlights the Institute of Export and International Trade’s (IOE&IT’s) recent collaboration with Amazon to launch the UK’s E-Commerce Trade Commission, which convened for its first meeting in Cardiff last month.

The commission’s aim is to boost UK e-commerce to harness the untapped export potential of UK SMEs. It is running regional sessions with small businesses over the course of its two-year run, and will formulate policy recommendations from its findings.

Reflecting on the success of its own programmes to support small businesses through e-commerce, the report notes that 100,000 SMEs use Amazon to sell their goods and that, of these, over half sell internationally. Last year, this amounted to £3.3bn worth of UK exports sales, half of which reached markets outside Europe.

Knowledge-sharing

In addition to building UK SME export potential, Amazon also makes recommendations around enabling greater knowledge-sharing between large and small firms to scale research and development (R&D) capabilities.

The report states that, despite being home to some of the world’s most productive organisations, “there is currently too little diffusion of their best practices to small businesses”, citing the US and Germany as countries that lead the way in this type of collaboration.

It’s believed that guidance across areas such as technology adoption and leadership would aid productivity at smaller firms and significantly enhance economic growth.

Competition and regulation

Elsewhere, the report called for amends to the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, which was one of five carry-over bills announced in the King’s Speech on Tuesday (7 November).

The bill is seeking to give greater powers to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), though Amazon has called for these powers to be diluted before the bill is passed.

This dilution would include limiting the permissions firms must seek before launching new products and lowering the standard for appeals, so that judges would assess whether CMA decisions are “substantively correct” rather than simply following the correct process.