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NEWS - 11. March 2021 11:20

Survey: internet sales have not grown considerably among small enterprises in Estonia

  • In Lithuania and Latvia, the growth of internet sales has been faster in recent years
  • Less than half of Estonian SMEs consider digitalisation to be important

The sale of products and services via the internet among Estonian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has grown modestly in recent years. According to the Baltic Business Outlook (BBO) survey, organised by SEB in December, 49% of SMEs use the internet as a sales channel, or intend to do so – two years ago, this figure was 46%.

‘Compared to the survey from two years ago, the popularity of internet commerce has grown less than expected – for example, the proportion of SMEs already selling on the internet has grown by just four percentage points, to 29 per cent. It is possible that the current second wave of Covid-19 makes corrections in the attitude of SMEs, since in the event of restrictions on commercial activities, internet sales help to retain turnover, at least to some degree,’ said the Head of the SME segment at SEB, Tatjana Vakulenko.

In terms of internet sales activity, Lithuanian SMEs are on exactly the same level as Estonian ones. In Latvia, 39 per cent of SMEs engage in internet sales or intend to do so, which leaves them ten percentage points behind its neighbours. However, additional growth has been the smallest in Estonia, among the Baltic states. ‘A couple of years ago, the proportion of internet sales was higher in Estonia than in its neighbouring countries, so the slower growth rate can be explained by this,’ Vakulenko added.

Accommodation, catering and commerce are on the internet

Among larger sectors, accommodation and catering is the most active provider of products and services on the internet – 57 per cent of respondents do so – followed by commerce with 47 per cent. ‘Surprisingly low is the proportion of internet sales in agriculture (14%), which can be explained by companies in this sector focusing on corporate customers, but farmers selling their produce to end consumers should certainly consider e-solutions,’ commented Vakulenko.

Internet sales generally account for less than 10 per cent of the turnover of companies utilising it – according to 36 per cent of respondents. Turnover remains between 10–30 per cent in the case of 26 per cent of respondents, but almost as much, 22 per cent, generate 71–100 per cent of turnover via the internet.

Digitalisation is considered important by 48 per cent of SMEs, while three years ago, this figure was higher, at 55 per cent. Digitalisation is considered most important by the commerce sector (53% of SMEs of the sector), followed by industry (50%), and transport and logistics (47%). Generally, the aim is to digitalise sales (43%), followed by the automation of administrative processes (35%) and production processes (22%).

SEB’s survey was conducted in December 2020. The total number of respondents in the Baltics was 3500, with 1030 of them in Estonia. Out of the enterprises that participated in the survey, 86 per cent had less than 10 employees.

Additional info:

Evelin Allas
Communications Manager

Phone +372 665 5649
Mobile +372 511 1718
Address: Tornimäe 2, 15010 Tallinn

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