Through the power of the Internet and technology, small businesses like never before are able to reach beyond a local consumer base and access global markets. Commerce 3.0 is the term we have used to capture this development of online and offline worlds coming together and the merging of local and global markets. The idea that technology-enabled small businesses can maintain a local presence while providing goods and services on a global scale is a novel and exciting story, particularly for those engaging in trade policy.
International trade has traditionally been the privilege of the largest players. This is changing. The Internet creates a truly global network. If you combine it with technology solutions and services, you enable merchants and consumers to connect and establish trust across national and cultural borders.
A few statistics from the eBay Marketplace demonstrate the effect that the Internet is having on small business traders:
- 97 percent of “commercial sellers” on eBay engage in exporting. That is a staggering number when compared with offline small business exporting, which comes in under 5 percent.
- On average, eBay-enabled “commercial sellers” selling abroad reach 19 different countries.
- A remarkable 81 percent sell to five or more foreign countries.
Internet-empowered small businesses and entrepreneurs are able to overcome some of the traditional barriers of international trade. But, some barriers still remain while new arise as large corporations are joined by small firms and entrepreneurs on the global stage. Policymakers now have an important task to adapt traditional rules and administration to a promising reality with small businesses and entrepreneurs as the new world traders!