Positivity levels rise amongst UK SMEs, but supply chain challenges remain

Category: Data & Insights
Positivity levels rise amongst UK SMEs, but supply chain challenges remain

UK SMEs are feeling increasingly confident about the future of their businesses, according to the ‘Alibaba.com B2B Sentiment Survey’ released today by Alibaba.com, a leading platform for global business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce.

The study of more than 500 SMEs across the UK marks March Expo 2024 (starts 1st March on Alibaba.com), Alibaba.com’s flagship online trade show which aims to connect buyers and sellers from around the world, helping them to discover new products, services and possibilities to grow their business.

According to the research, 68% of UK SME decision-makers surveyed are more positive* about their business growth opportunities when compared to last year. Of these, 19% of UK SME decision-makers surveyed described their outlook as ‘significantly more positive.’

Despite this strong level of optimism, UK SMEs are facing a number of challenges which could risk their intentions to grow and prosper. Nearly half (47%) of UK SME decision-makers surveyed cited inflationary pressures as their biggest challenge facing their business over the next year, and a further 37% highlighted marketing and customer acquisition.

Over a third (35%) of UK SME decision-makers surveyed said supply chain/sourcing challenges/stock availability was the biggest challenge facing their business over the next year, while 69% of UK SME decision-makers surveyed said finding new suppliers was a priority* in 2024. The study suggests that building relationships with new suppliers is a daunting prospect for the majority of UK SMEs – almost two-thirds (64%) of UK SME decision-makers surveyed agree* that building trust with new suppliers is one of their business’ greatest challenges.

March Expo 2024 will see Alibaba.com provide tailored solutions for B2B buyers to help them source more effectively and with confidence, combating the common pain points highlighted by the research. More ‘guaranteed services’ will enable UK SMEs to source even more efficiently, for example by ordering directly from Alibaba.com without negotiating with suppliers. This new approach to online sourcing offers B2B buyers guaranteed fixed prices, guaranteed and on-time delivery, and guaranteed, hassle-free refunds.

During the month-long, 24/7 Expo, more than one million new products will be available, as well as over two million ‘best-selling products’, enabling UK SMEs to bolster their catalogue of unique and popular products at the click of a button. B2B buyers can connect with quality suppliers showcasing their factories and product lines through livestreams, and thousands of virtual-reality show rooms. This offers new opportunities for buyers to establish a global ecosystem of suppliers seamlessly.

The same study was conducted amongst SMEs in France and Germany, and whilst they share a similarly positive outlook differences between the markets remain. In Germany, for example, most SMEs (46%) cited supply chain issues as their biggest challenge to their business, and 81% said finding new suppliers was a priority in 2024. In France, however, SMEs ranked the implementation of technology as their biggest challenge (36%) and just over three quarters (76%) said findings new suppliers was a priority in 2024.

It’s encouraging to see that UK SMEs are feeling much more positive about their growth prospects when compared to last year. However, our research also sheds light on some of the sourcing and supply chain issues that could prevent businesses from fulfilling their growth ambitions.

At Alibaba.com, we’re focused on making digital, cross-border purchasing as seamless as possible. Through a range of new tools and services, the availability of more than one million new products, and the Alibaba.com guaranteed services, we are optimising and streamlining the entire sourcing journey for SMEs, enabling them to mitigate supply chain challenges and focus on what’s most important – growing their business.

– Jijay Shen, General Manager Europe, Alibaba.com

One Response

  1. Sadly, what with container ships now being attacked by African pirates also, I don’t see the freight shipping situation improving for a while.

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