Small Business Research Board Auto / Vehicle Dealer eCommerce Study: Sampling Shows Small Auto, Other Vehicle Dealers Slow To Embrace Internet; Many Hesitant About Taking New Media For Test Drive -- Nearly 55% Do Not Have Websites

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Nearly 55% of the auto and other vehicle dealers responding to a Small Business Research Board (SBRB) study on trends in eCommerce said they do not have websites, according to a report issued here today.

    The SBRB study, co-sponsored by Business Today Magazine, said that only 54.5% of the auto and other vehicle dealers participating in the national sampling have websites. Auto and vehicle dealers as a category ranked next to last of the eight industries studied in terms of their ownership of proprietary websites. Trailing the list were construction and contracting firms of which 57% of the respondents said they do not have their own captive websites.

(The study did not ask if dealers participated in third-party web programs in which they presented information and / or conducted transactions through sites owned by others. Auto and other vehicle dealers often appear on these non-proprietary sites.)

While 96.9% of the auto and vehicle dealers responding to the SBRB poll said they believe their revenue from Internet driven transactions will remain the same or increase during the next 12 to 24 months, only 24.2% of the total believe revenues will improve. Again, that ranks the industry segment as the second least optimistic of the eight industry categories. Small construction and contracting companies also were most reticent about predicting they would build more revenue through eCommerce as only 13.9% said they were looking for increases during the same 12 to 24 month period.

The study did reveal other significant findings, which shows a gap between those companies with sites and those that are still parked by the curb. More than 21% of all of the "dealers" participating in the poll said they generated some of their 2006 revenue from eCommerce transactions. However, among those dealers with Internet sites, 46.4% said they generated eCommerce sales last year. This represented improved results from five years earlier when 40% the same small auto and vehicle dealers with Internet sites said they produced some of their revenue from Internet sales. For both 2001 and 2006, 20% of the respondents said they generated more than 75% of their revenue from "The Net."

Owners and managers of more than 550 small businesses representing numerous industries responded to the nationwide SBRB / Business Today study.

The SBRB / Business Today report provides specific detail by size of business, by industry, by region (and in some instances by state) the various experiences each segment has had with the Internet and their commitment to offer products and services through eCommerce transactions.

The study, for instance, breaks out information by size of business and industry on the number of firms with websites, the number of websites they have, the percentage of their product line available on their sites and percentage of business revenue derived from eCommerce.

Of the industries studied, manufacturers led all business categories in their commitment to the Internet with 67.2% indicating they have at least one website. Transportation companies as a segment followed, with 63% indicating they have websites. Small retailers were next with 62.5% saying they have websites.

Nationally, 42.7% of the respondents said they did not have a website while 47.3% said they had one website. Another 9.1% said they had between two and ten websites and .9% said they had more than ten websites.

Additionally, 56.1% of the small businesses with websites said they sell products and services on a company-owned site.

The SBRB / Business Today Small Business eCommerce Study is believed to be among the most comprehensive efforts recently undertaken to understand eCommerce and the reality of its impact on small businesses. The resulting information thus provides both a snapshot on current attitudes and realizations among small business owners as well as establishes benchmarks.

Among the questions asked were:

-- How many websites does your company own?

-- On how many of these websites do you sell products / conduct transactions?

-- What percentage of your product line can be purchased on your Internet site?

-- How much of your sales were transacted on your Internet site(s) last year?

-- Over the next 12 to 24 months do you expect your Internet sales to increase, decrease or remain the same?

Poll participants also were asked to provide information on the percentage of products and services that could be purchased on their websites five years ago as well as the correlating percentage of sales that were derived. This data contributed to helping establish trends and historical benchmarks.

The study provides data for the all participants and also delineates data pertaining to only those businesses which have Internet sites.

Data is included for such industries as manufacturing, construction and contracting, retail, food and beverage, distribution and wholesaling, transportation and automotive.

Business Today Magazine is dedicated to serving the information needs of owners and managers of small businesses. The primary goals of the quarterly publication based in Buffalo Grove, Il. are to inform and educate its readers by providing timely, useful information that will help readers both contend with the daily demands of running their businesses as well as provide insight on achieving long term growth.

The Small Business Research Board ascertains and reports the opinions of small business owners and managers on a wide variety of topics related to their own businesses as well as national and international issues that may impact their operations. The SBRB conducts these studies for the benefit of small business owners and managers. The SBRB also provides opportunities for third parties to gain real time insight into the attitudes of small businesses nationwide through the independently conducted research.

The latest information about the Small Business Research Board can be found at http://www.biznus.net.

NOTE TO EDITORS: This article is the twelfth and the final scheduled release in a series on the study of small business, the Internet and eCommerce by the Small Business Research Board. Previous releases detailed overall findings of a nationwide poll of small businesses in which nearly 97% of the respondents expect revenue generated from web-based sales to stay the same or increase during the next one to two years -- with 29.2% of those expecting revenue to increase. Additional releases break out the results by size of business, geographic region, several states (New York and California) and by industry.

(1) some totals may not equal 100% as a result of rounding.

For more information about this poll, copies of the complete study and the results of previous studies or other matters related to the Small Business Research Board, please contact Raymond D. Minkus, (847) 441-4192.

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