America's Smaller Businesses are Just Beginning to Take Advantage of the Internet for Business

GTE SuperPages.com/Gallup Release Results of National Small Business Internet-Use Survey

DALLAS, Texas - As the Internet grows at an astounding rate, more small-to-medium size businesses are planning to take the plunge by developing a Web site and offering e-commerce. Up to this point, many smaller businesses have been reluctant to develop Web sites and conduct e-commerce activities due to limited resources and fear of the unknown. These and other interesting findings were recently released in a national study conducted by GTE SuperPages.com and the Gallup Organization.

"Our survey findings indicate that small businesses are beginning to understand important ways to grow their business through the Internet," stated Earl A. Goode, president of GTE Directories Corporation, provider of SuperPages.com. "We are seeing more small companies use the Internet to increase sales, communicate with existing customers and market their business to new consumers."

A leading online Yellow Pages and shopping resource, GTE SuperPages.com provides a variety of marketing services for small businesses interested in establishing and promoting an Internet presence including Web site development and hosting, online advertising, and Internet access. SuperPages.com helps small businesses get connected on the Internet and maximize their exposure, in turn, helping increase awareness and growth.

Small Business Internet Use Continues to Grow

The results of the random survey of 500 businesses indicate that 62 percent of small businesses are currently using the Internet for some of their business needs including communicating with customers, online sales and to provide product or service information. In addition, 25 percent of small businesses owners said that they currently have a Web site.

These businesses are reaping the benefits of being online; 68 percent of those surveyed reported that their Web site has met most or exceeded their business expectations.

According to the small businesses who sell goods and services online, 15 percent of their total sales volume comes from online sales and 66 percent believe that sales volume will increase in the next 12 months.

"Small businesses that have embraced the Internet as a business tool will continue to see the benefits of its use," explained Goode. "The Internet provides endless opportunities for any size business to market any type of product or service. Small and medium size businesses are precisely the customers that we are targeting with SuperPages.com."

The SuperPages.com/Gallup study indicates that an interactive and informative Web presence is important to small businesses even if they are not ready or equipped to conduct online transactions.

Why Small Businesses are Not Using the Internet

Even with the overwhelming presence of the Internet in the business world, many small businesses are opting not to use the Web. The major reasons cited for not using the Internet were: 1) lack of time, lack of staff, and lack of a suitable Web partner to develop the site; and 2) the concern that the Internet does not reach local customers.

"We've found with our customers that no business is 'too local' to take advantage of the Web as an effective way to reach customers. Consumers are beginning to use the Internet more and more as a resource for local information and small businesses need to be there," said Goode.

As more small businesses discover the benefits of the Internet their desire to establish a Web site increases. According to the small businesses without a Web site surveyed, 44 percent indicated that they had plans to develop an Internet site within the next 12 months. They understand that with more consumers using the Internet, it is important for them to develop an online presence to continue to grow.

Meeting Customer Needs on the Internet

Small businesses believe the Web features most important to their customers include: 1) Web sites that allow secure and private transactions; 2) the ability to correspond with the business via e-mail; and 3) the convenience of being able to obtain online price quotes, conduct price comparisons between competitors and purchase products online.

"Any business, including a small business can develop a Web site that meets their customers' needs," explains Goode. "The Internet is an essential tool for businesses entering the new millennium."

About SuperPages.com and GTE Directories Corporation

With more than 12 million businesses listed and tens of thousands of advertisers, SuperPages.com, offered by GTE Directories Corporation, is a rich, comprehensive shopping resource designed for people who want the convenience of finding information and purchasing products and services online. A leading Internet Yellow Pages and shopping site, SuperPages.com has received 23.9 million cumulative unique visitors from January through September, according to Media Metrix. SuperPages.com conducts as many as 12.6 million Yellow Pages searches per month. GTE Directories Corporation is a part of GTE Corporation, one of the world's largest telecommunications companies and a leading provider of integrated telecommunications services. In October, GTE Corporation founded GTE Reads, a national, non-profit organization dedicated to fighting illiteracy.

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For a complete copy of the survey findings, contact Stacey Lammot at

(310) 288-5523 or slammot@painepr.com