According to a study by Sage Software, 29 percent of small U.S. companies who currently have a Web site are using it for e-commerce activities.
Of the remainder, 37 percent plan to launche-commerce capabilities in the future, with 75 percent of those ventures expected to become reality within the next 12 months.
The study was commissioned by Sage Software in an ongoing effort to keep its small business accounting software clients apprised of the growth of Internet commerce. Sage produces software packages such as Peachtree and DacEasy for two million small businesses.
Internet Growth Shows Small Business Optimism
“Clearly, small business is optimistic about the future benefits of the Internet,” said David R. Butler, president and chief operating officer of Irvine, California-based Sage Software. Study data shows that the vast majority of companies are taking steps necessary to reap the benefits of this global medium,” he added.
Ninety-one percent of Internet-using small companies report that they believe the Internet will have an increased role in the way their companies conduct business in the future. Ninety-six percent believe this increase will affect all U.S. businesses over the next five years.
Internet Benefits for Small Companies
Eighty percent of small businesses feel that the use of the Internet has led to productivity gains. These gains are generally coming without expensive investments. The study reports that 47 percent of the companies with Web sites are currently spending less than $2,000 (US$) annually to keep their sites updated.
Though many small companies have high regard for commerce conducted over their Web sites, using the Internet for promotion receives weaker marks. Twenty-four respondents describe the Internet as ineffective as a promotional tool, 43 percent claimed the Internet was somewhat effective, and only nine percent found the Web to be an effective promotional tool.
Seventy-seven percent of small companies say half of their employees have access to the Internet at work. Sixty-two percent express no concern for their employees’ personal use of the Internet on company time, yet 55 percent have an informal, verbal or formal written policy on employee Internet use.
Service to Small Companies
The Sage small business survey was based on responses from the owners, partners, presidents and vice presidents of 200 companies across the U.S. Companies ranged in size from 10 to 500 employees.
Sage has also published small business studies on Y2K readiness and satisfaction levels with government regulations.