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NEWS - 18. March 2019 15:25

SEB Survey: The Digital Capability of Estonia Has Not Included the Private Sector

Despite the fact that the image of Estonia as a digital state is strong, it can be concluded, based on the recent SEB Baltic Business Outlook (BBO) survey, that the digital capability of the state has not included the private sector. Just a quarter of Estonian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) utilise electronic platforms in their sales activities.

“The digital capability of Estonia on the state level has served as an example for many others, and our excellent capability is also confirmed by relevant EU-wide surveys. However, when we asked Baltic enterprises about their capability to provide their products and services on digital channels, about a fifth of Estonian and Lithuanian SMEs and nearly 40% of Latvian SMEs do not consider this to be important at all. This raises the question of the competitiveness of Baltic enterprises in the near future,” said Ainar Leppänen, the Head of Retail Banking at SEB, commenting on the SEB BBO survey.

Leppänen noted that the situation of Estonia is slightly better compared to other Baltic states, but we must act very fast to stay competitive. The conclusions of the SEB BBO survey are confirmed by the recent survey conducted among RAIT Faktum Ariko industrial enterprises, which showed that just 24% of the respondents among Estonian manufacturing and mining industry enterprises have digitised their processes.

Arnis Škapars, Member of the Management Board of SEB Latvia confirms that more than two thirds of Latvian SMEs do not utilise online channels in their sales activities. “This fact makes one worry, of course, since trends indicate that customers have different expectations. More and more people wish to shop in web environments and when enterprises avoid selling their products or services on the internet, they hinder their own competitiveness by doing so. For example, this would be the only opportunity to buy from Latvian enterprises for many customers living abroad,” said Škapars.

Based on the SEB BBO survey, only a fifth (20%) of Latvian SMEs utilise online channels in selling their products and services; the same indicator is 22% in Lithuania, and in Estonia, 25% of SMEs utilise electronic sales channels. Even keeping the near future in mind, Latvian SMEs are in no hurry to implement e-channels and merely 13% intend to start web sales in this year. At the same time, 17% of Lithuanian enterprises and 21% of Estonian enterprises are already developing their online sales platforms.

SEB BBO is an annual survey by SEB covering the Baltics that summarises the expectations of Baltic SMEs in the five most important fields: turnover changes, the number of employees, export, innovation and investments. BBO 2019 was prepared based on the answers received from 4200 Baltic SMEs. The survey was conducted in December of last year.


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