launches research report into Europe's SME export landscape, one of the world’s largest B2B trading platforms, has launched its new research report, the ‘SME Export Barometer for Europe’, that aims to support European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on their journey towards a successful B2B export strategy.

The report paints a promising picture of the B2B export landscape, as 78% of the businesses surveyed said they are currently exporting, and over half (58%) stated that their annual revenue is generated from exporting overseas. Outlook continues to be positive as despite recent economic challenges, businesses feel optimistic for the year ahead, with 66% of European SMEs – and 69% in the UK - stating that they expect their sales to increase in the coming year.

As well as insights into top-selling products and in-demand categories in different countries, the report revealed that 56% of European businesses are working with online marketplaces to boost their export sales – 24% of which only started working with marketplaces during the pandemic. In the UK, this is particularly prominent, with 64% of SMEs using an online marketplace to support export growth.

The report highlighted the key benefits of using an online marketplace to export, including expansion into new geographic markets (30%), expansion of product range driven by buyers’ requests (29%), enablement of better inventory planning (29%), and access to technology and communication tools (29%). For UK SMEs, better inventory planning (33%), access to richer competitor and market insights (32%), and expansion of its product range (31%) were highlighted as the main benefits. Across Europe, 73% of respondents stated that digital transformation has been key to their business success, and nearly 78% said that exporting has driven innovation within their company.

However, barriers to exporting remain - the most significant of which were human resources challenges and insufficient professional personnel. Marketing was also a key challenge, as well as concerns around a lack of information and associated uncertainties with foreign markets.

Through its platform which connects 47 million buyers with sellers from over 200 countries, leverages technology such as livestreaming, augmented reality and AI to minimise the barriers stopping SMEs from accessing global trade.

Roland Palmer, General Manager, UK, Benelux and Nordics at Alibaba Group, said: “SMEs are the backbone of European economies and act as critical employers and often generators of unique products and ideas. However, as demonstrated by our new report, there are too many barriers in place of European SMEs accessing global trade opportunities.

“Through the launch of this report, we want to empower SMEs in their exporting journey by providing valuable insights on the benefits of digitalisation when exporting - whether that’s sourcing new business opportunities, connecting with customers, or understanding how to use the right technologies – to help more SMEs scale up.”