Small Business Research Board Retail Industry eCommerce Study: Small Retailers Finding Greater Percentage of Revenues Coming from eCommerce Sales; Predictions Say Trend To Continue Next 12 -- 24 Months

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A growing percentage of revenue generated by small retailers is being derived from eCommerce transactions and respondents to a nationwide poll conducted by the Small Business Research Board (SBRB) indicate that the trend will continue over the next 12 to 24 months, according to the results of the latest study released here today.

    The study co-sponsored by Business Today Magazine disclosed that more than 40% of the total universe of small retailers participating in the study said they were generating at least a portion of their revenue as the result of eCommerce transactions.

Of those small retailers with Internet sites, more than 65% said they are generating revenue from products and services sold from their websites.

More than 96% of those same retailers believe their Internet sales will stay the same or grow during the next 12 to 24 months with 39.8% expecting the sales to increase. Small retailers were the most optimistic about the future of the Internet among all industries contributing to the poll.

Nationally, of all small businesses studied, 96.7% said they expect Internet revenues to increase or stay the same during the next 12 to 24 months, with 29.2% predicting increases.

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.

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.

Overall, the study also found that:

-- Of those small retail business with Internet sites, 40% said that up to 25% of its products are available for sale on line and another 29.1% said 26% to 100% of their products could be purchased on line.

-- Again, relating to retail companies with Internet sites, more than 25.4% said 26% to 100% of their overall revenue came from eCommerce initiatives.

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

NOTES TO EDITORS: This article is the eighth in a series on the study of small business, the Internet and eCommerce by the Small Business Research Board.

In addition to this release on the small retailing businesses, there will be additional releases for such industries as food and beverage, distribution and wholesaling, automotive and transportation.

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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