Small and medium enterprises (SME's) have leapt onto the e-commerce bandwagon according to the Yellow Pages annual Small Business Index that predicts a third of Australia's SME's will sell their products and services online within a year.
Current figures for small and medium businesses put e-commerce use at 12 and 18 per cent respectively. According to the Business Index these statistics are set to rise to 29 and 38 per cent within 12 months.
However of the 1200 small businesses and 600 medium businesses surveyed, only a fraction recognise the potential of e-commerce according to Dr John Marsden, economic adviser to the Index. "The use of Internet and e-commerce for more than information gathering and advertising is limited to a small core of both small and medium businesses," suggests Marsden.
In addition e-commerce faces pessimistic security perceptions with only seven per cent of all small and medium businesses paying accounts over the Internet.
However with the number of SME Internet users growing rapidly, from 34 per cent a year ago for small businesses to 48 per cent and 65 to 82 per cent for medium businesses, the development of e-commerce strategies, starting with a simple web page, will continue to grow, according to Marsden.
Yet this growth needs to be supported by product integration and surprisingly, in an environment dominated by Y2K compliance issues and upgrades, 40 per cent of small businesses did not spend any money on computer hardware or software in the last year, a figure supported by the Index's finding that 81 per cent of small businesses believe Y2K will not affect them.