Edited by Keith H. Hammonds - For corrections and clarifications click here
Nearly everyone's doing it -- doing business on the Internet, that is. For the
most part, though, companies aren't actually buying and selling products
electronically. Much more often, executives told a Business Week/Harris poll,
they're distributing product information, advertising, or supporting customer
Just 45% of execs said their companies actually sell to customers on the Net --
and most of those who don't said have no plans to start. Why not? Too often,
they said, electronic commerce conflicts with another sales channel, or the
Internet simply doesn't fit their products and services. Another big concern:
online security. On the other hand, a large majority of those who do buy or
sell online say they reach a broader base of customers, communicate with
suppliers more easily, and save on transaction costs.
Nearly Everyone's Surfin'
Does your company use the Internet, the World Wide Web, or some other online
YES NO DON'T KNOW
Provide potential customers 87% 13% 0%
with product information
Advertise or do brand marketing 72% 27% 1%
Provide customer service 61% 36% 3%
Sell products or services 45% 54% 1%
directly to customers
Bring buyers and sellers together 43% 52% 5%
Buy products or services 41% 47% 11%
Those Who Don't, Won't
If your company doesn't now sell online, do you have any plans to sell products
or services online, or not?
Have plans 27%
Do not have plans 64%
Don't know 9%
How Long to the Net?
If so, within how many years does your company plan to sell products or
0 years 16%
1 year 30%
2 years 36%
3 years 7%
5 years 5%
Don't know 6%
If your company doesn't now sell online, which one of these, if any, is your
company's single biggest obstacle?
Conflict with existing sales channel 28%
Internet not applicable 27%
Lack of adequate customer base online 17%
Lack of security 10%
Customer perceptions of security risk 7%
The cost of running a Web site 2%
Something else 3%
Don't know 6%
Are the following a major benefit that your company gains from buying or
selling online, a minor benefit, or no benefit at all?
MAJOR MINOR NO DON'T
BENEFIT BENEFIT BENEFIT KNOW
Reaching customers directly 42% 46% 9% 3%
Reaching a broader base 36% 48% 15% 1%
More easily communicating and 28% 51% 17% 4%
transacting with suppliers
Savings on transaction costs 17% 51% 28% 4%
Cutting out middlemen 13% 45% 38% 4%
Savings on marketing 9% 46% 40% 5%
When doing business online, does your company change prices more often, less
often, or about as often compared to your traditional non-online transactions?
More often 5%
Less often 3%
About as often 68%
Don't know 24%
No Online Premium
When doing business online, are your company's average prices higher, lower, or
about the same compared to your traditional non-online transactions?
About the same 65%
Don't know 21%
As a result of your company's use of the Internet, the World Wide Web, or some
other online method, have you increased employment, reduced employment, or kept
employment about the same?
Raised employment 18%
Reduced employment 3%
Kept employment about the same 75%
Don't know 4%
Employment to Come?
In the next year, do you anticipate increasing employment, reducing employment,
or keeping employment about the same as a result of your company's use of the
Internet, the World Wide Web, or some other online method?
Will increase employment 22%
Will reduce employment 6%
Will keep employment about the same 66%
Don't know 6%
Are concerns about security slowing down your company's plans to move more
business online, or not?
Don't know 5%
Survey of 308 senior executives at large public corporations. Interviews were
conducted May 27 to June 5, 1998, for Business Week by Louis Harris &
- The 'Click Here' Economy
- COVER IMAGE: Doing Business in the Internet Age
- GRAPHIC: Online Sales Are Soaring
- TABLE: How the Internet Changes (Almost) Everything
- TABLE: Understanding Net-Speak
- GRAPHIC: How a Mythical Merchant Uses Three Avenues of the Net for E-Commerce (.pdf)
- Supply Chain
- GRAPHIC: How Mythical Sportz Gets Products to Market
- CHART: Explosion in Enterprise Software: These Tools Are Being Honed for E-Commerce
- Customer Service
- TABLE: At Your (Cyber) Service
- TABLE: Six Signs That You Have Been Hacked
- BW/Harris Poll
- FedEx: An Internet Stock?
- Online Merchants
- Cyber Prices
- Next: Smart Cards
- Net Tax Commentary
- Knowledge Management