The challenges of competing in a digital world: The experiences of Canadian small businesses with Amazon

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been an integral part of our economy, providing jobs and generating income for communities across the country. SMEs are critical to Canada's economic prosperity, representing half of Canada's GDP. They make up 99.8% of employers in Canada and employ 88% of the total private sector labour force (10.7 million individuals). However, over the past 30 years, the rate at which Canadians start new businesses has fallen by half. The growth rate of small business startups in Canada is on the decline, and each year fewer Canadians are choosing to start their own business.

After more than three years of uncertainty linked to the pandemic and lockdown measures, many Canadian small businesses are feeling the financial pressure and are fighting to compete within the Canadian marketplace as they attempt to return to normal sales. While many SMEs adopted various digital technologies to cope with the crisis, the rapid digitalization of our economy has primarily benefited and been profitable for corporate giants (e.g., Amazon, Walmart, etc.). The competitive landscape has been rapidly evolving, especially with the emergence of more and more large multinational corporations and the growth of online competitors making the current business environment more challenging for many SMEs.

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