What small businesses can do to overcome the barriers to global commerce

Henrique Celanto – General Manager (LATAM) – RedCloud


If the media is to be believed, global commerce is within easy reach of every business. The internet has levelled the playing field for traders of all sizes, creating endless opportunities for all. And yet many companies – in many cultures – still struggle to get by, let alone expand into the international marketplace. And the reason for this is because they lack the technology. With the big technology firms assuming complete control over the system, competition has been stamped out, leaving the smaller players unable to access the tools they need to scale. It’s a scenario that has been particularly felt in the emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs, but can be equally relevant in more economically stable nations.

Unearthing the problem

In 2022, Amazon made up 37.8% of the retail ecommerce market. While that figure is easy to quantify when you consider the breadth of its product offering, the number of territories it operates in, and the time that the company has been established, when you drill down into the details, it becomes clear that there are other issues at play. Not least, the fact that Amazon – and others of its ilk – has taken advantage of its dominance within the ecommerce supply chain, building their own distribution networks to serve their particular requirements, and in the process, preventing millions of distributors and retailers from accessing the goods they need to grow and evolve. And as Amazon and the other big tech companies have cemented their position, the small independent traders – mainly in developing countries – have been starved of the key trading data they need to develop a more efficient trading system. But that’s just the first of the barriers that they have to face.

The three key barriers to online trading in EMDEs


Difficulties accessing traditional banking and finance has long been a problem for small businesses in EDMEs. Until recently, it’s an issue that has been navigable through the use of cash. But when a business is reliant on cash and doesn’t have a bank account, it is not only faced with slower systems and smaller margins, it becomes impossible for it to establish a trading profile, which means that borrowing opportunities are non-existent, along with the potential to invest in the relevant technology and tools that would help it to scale.


Much of the technology used by the big corporations is still in its infancy. With the likes of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) continuing to evolve rapidly, businesses without the cash and infrastructure to throw expert manpower at technical renovation face either a long, and expensive learning curve before they can make use of these new tools, or the necessity of falling behind competitors. Which is one of the reasons why many small businesses are reluctance to adopt the new technologies that may hold to potential to help them.


And from this lack of investment and technology grows the problem of lack of data. Without the tools they need to access digital trading, small businesses find themselves faced with guesswork in regards to business performance, customer profiles, and even what is being sold where. Vitally important data for any business looking to grow, make efficiencies, enhance supply chains, or improve customer service.

How open commerce could provide a solution

When faced with such barriers, it can be hard to know where to begin. What’s needed is a platform that can provide unparalleled access to banking and online trading. And that’s in the gift of open commerce.

With open commerce, small businesses can access not only banking and trading tools – including the ability to deploy digitised payments and all of the advantages that brings – but to gain significant customer insight. And this helps across the entire spectrum of the business: product and service creation, trend monitoring, competition performance, inventory management and demand forecasting, even digital marketing. And these things won’t just improve supply chain efficiency and customer relationships, but help to build relationships between manufacturers, distributors and merchants, allowing for new markets to be reached when the opportunity presents itself.

And AI is an integral part of this solution. With conversational commerce, distributors can elevate their margins to match demand and stock availability, while also improving the experience of the merchant.

Right now, the ecommerce system is failing. Serving the few while the many flounder, it’s as far from egalitarian as it is possible to be. To grow and survive – and to support their nation’s economies – small businesses need to be able to access platforms that allow for effective, efficient online trade. Without barriers. With open commerce, all businesses, even those within EMDEs can access that capability, building their customer base and their knowledge as their businesses evolve and grow.


Henrique has extensive experience in technology and commerce, having previously worked in Senior roles at Paypal and Meta. At RedCloud, he oversees sales, business, development and strategic partnership initiatives across Brazil.


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