Director of small business for UPS Canada, Paul Gaspar had a chat with CanadianSME to share his insights on choosing the right delivery service for Canadian business owners. He also talks about the challenges business owners may face keeping commerce flowing and the steps UPS is taking to enforce social distancing.
Paul Gaspar was appointed director of small business for UPS Canada in 2011. He is responsible for educating and informing small businesses about the customized services, technologies, and innovations available to them at UPS. He works with a team of small business ambassadors who help communicate how to better leverage UPS tools to help them grow and expand both domestically and internationally.
Paul’s 29-year career with UPS began in 1991 in operations. Through several roles and responsibilities Paul’s appetite for working with small businesses and educating them on the opportunities available in other markets grew. He soon realized that through his growing network of entrepreneurs, and the focused learnings of SME global supply chains, that he had a wealth of knowledge he can share to improve the success rate of businesses looking to scale and go global.
1. As Senior Executive at UPS Canada, what do you believe is the most important aspect that Canadian SMEs should consider when it comes to selecting the right delivery provider?
Small businesses drive economic growth – contributing to a country’s exports, innovative advancements, and domestic product. The rise of technology has connected shoppers to a global online marketplace, providing access to markets that would otherwise be too costly for small Canadian businesses to enter. Below are just some of the services that should be available when choosing a delivery provider:
• Support and scalable solutions that meet the needs of small businesses whether they are a startup or a growing business.
• Competitive rates.
• A global network of convenient drop-off and pick-up locations like our UPS Access Point network.
• Specialized help like our UPS Small Business Ambassadors to assist small businesses navigate their supply chain as their needs or the market change.
• One that offers a fulfillment solution for businesses that are growing and need additional space. With no minimums, so that no business is too small to leverage this solution.
• For businesses looking to grow outside of Canada, cross-border logistics, and supply chain management across a smart global logistics network.
• Brokerage and customs expertise and services.
• Technology for visibility and website optimization to improve customer service.
2. What are some of the strategies that UPS uses when it comes to finding solutions and developing products and services that can be beneficial for Canadian small businesses?
We work with organizations like Startup Canada, Mompreneurs and many Boards of Trade and Chambers of Commerce to get direct feedback on the needs of businesses in Canada. With this feedback, we can develop needed services and programs to help them succeed. This also allows us to provide them with the networks and resources required to scale as we provide consulting services to help guide them through opportunities and barriers. Also, as an organization that’s been in business for almost 113 years, with 45 of those years in Canada, and ships 3% of global GDP on a daily basis, we work with businesses of all sizes and know their needs. Finally, we use reliable market research, like our UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper, to guide best practices for their success.
3. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as Senior Executive at UPS Canada and what methods did you use to overcome these challenges?
When it comes to SMEs it can be grouped into two key areas – first, elevating the importance of a robust logistics strategy early in a business’s life cycle and second, letting the 1.2M small businesses in Canada know that UPS is here to help.
Startups and even scaling businesses going through growth and changes in their business model sometimes don’t consider the impact of their supply chain until it’s too late. This often causes unnecessary pain for a new business.
Also, we find that many small businesses in Canada don’t initially think that UPS is approachable or even an option for their startup needs. They are pleasantly surprised when they learn about our dedicated programs and solutions for all businesses, including those just starting out. UPS has so much to offer businesses of any size.
To overcome these challenges, we are working with organizations like Startup Canada, Mompreneurs, and many other associations and member-based groups across the country. These partnerships/associations provide us with a platform to educate businesses as a thought leader in our industry. It also allows us to showcase the customized solutions and programs we have available for them.
4. COVID-19 has had a huge impact on Canadian SMEs. What are some of the initiatives that UPS has implemented to help entrepreneurs that have been affected by this global pandemic?
Many businesses are adapting to how they operate and serve their customers. Those with retail locations are now focused on their e-commerce platforms and some are just beginning or paying more attention to it. While businesses of all sizes are feeling the impact, many small to medium-size businesses may need the most help in trying to adapt and navigate at this time. We have identified some key challenges that UPS can help with, these include
• Inventory delays and shortages.
• Fulfillment challenges due to business closures and self-isolation of employees.
• A shift to e-commerce due to social distancing and location closures
• An increased focus on cost savings from reduced cash flow These are just some of the areas where UPS can directly support small and medium-sized businesses. We have also just started a new discount offer and put together our key services to help them get back to normal business levels on ups.com/comebackstrong.
5. How has COVID-19 impacted UPS Canada?
UPS has been designated by the governments of countries around the world as a “Critical Infrastructure Business” and an “essential service” in parts of Canada. We have both a privilege and a responsibility to continue safely working during this challenging period.
People are counting on UPS more than ever and we are grateful for the hard work and dedication of all our employees around the world.
We are adapting our normal processes to enforce social distancing while we keep commerce flowing for businesses and consumers. This includes no longer collecting signatures upon delivery and ensuring all import fees are paid in advance.
6. On a final note, what advice can you give to entrepreneurs that can help them during these unprecedented times?
• Look for the opportunities. If you are a storefront and have not focused on your online business, now is the time.
• Plan for international shipping. Understand what global markets your product or service may benefit and be ready to make that sale.
• Look for 3rd party fulfillment options to help with an isolated staff and new growth.
• Research, research, research. Ask questions, look for organizations that are there to help you network and teach new things.