DALLAS - More small businesses are establishing Web sites primarily to advertise and promote their business, rather than to conduct e-commerce, according to SuperPages.com's Second Annual Small Business Internet Survey, recently conducted for Verizon Information Services.
According to the survey, small businesses that established a Web site to advertise and promote their business increased 123 percent over the past year (21 percent in 2000 compared to 8 percent in 1999). Conversely, small businesses establishing a Web site primarily to sell products decreased 48 percent during the same period (13 percent in 2000 compared to 13 percent in 1999).
"Research indicates that many consumers use the Internet to window shop - to research and browse before they buy from local merchants," said Patrick Marshall, group vice president - marketing of Verizon Information Services. "While transactional e-commerce may not be right for all small businesses, even the most local business can benefit from establishing a Web site to promote their products and services."
Interestingly, a separate study commissioned by SuperPages.com by Verizon found that 21 percent of online consumers say they research online but buy locally while only five percent say they research and buy products online.
Having A Web Site Pays Off For Small Businesses
The survey reveals that small businesses with a Web site found that getting online is both rewarding and simple. Fifty-five percent of small businesses with a Web site report that the site has broken even or has paid for itself in increased business. Forty-eight percent of small businesses with a Web site say that their site has met or exceeded their expectations compared to 33 percent in 1999. Additionally, 57 percent found that a Web site was easy to create, rating the ease of the process 7 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10.
Small businesses with a Web site also are enthusiastic about the future impact of the Internet on their business. Sixty-five percent describe the Internet as important to the future of their business, rating its importance 7 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10.
Widening The Technology Gap Among Small Businesses
While many small businesses have yet to adopt the Internet as a marketing tool (only 27 percent of small businesses reported having a Web site), small businesses that are already online
may be ahead of their offline competitors. The data suggests that small businesses with Web
sites have a broader geographic reach, have a greater understanding of the Internet as well as how to conduct Internet transactions, and know more about how their customers and competitors are using the Internet.
- 48 percent of small businesses with a Web site believe their customers come from outside a 50-mile radius. Only 20 percent of small businesses without a Web site believe the same.
- Companies with a Web site rated themselves 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 for their general understanding of the Internet, compared to those without an Internet presence, who rated themselves 6.
- Companies with a Web site rated themselves 7 out of 10 for their understanding of how their customers and competitors are using the Internet, compared to those without an Internet presence, who rated themselves less than 5.
"Small businesses without a Web site may be at a disadvantage compared to their competitors who are online," said Marshall. "We believe that all small businesses can benefit from the Internet in some way, whether using it for marketing and selling, or researching vendors, purchasing products, and communicating with customers.
"As online applications become easier to use and consumers grow more comfortable with e-commerce, we expect more small businesses to move into the e-commerce arena."
The Small Business Internet Survey was conducted by The Gallup Organization, Inc. for Verizon Information Services. The random telephone survey of 800 companies in the United States that have 50 or fewer employees reveals interesting findings (+/- 3.5 percent statistical significance) about the relevance of the Internet and e-commerce to the country's small businesses.
Verizon Information Services is the world's leading print and online directory publisher and a content provider for communications products and services. The largest directory publisher in the world, Verizon has annual revenues of more than $4.1 billion and employs more than 11,000 people.
Verizon Information Services provides sales, publishing and other related services for nearly 2,500 directory titles in 48 states and the District of Columbia and 18 countries outside the U.S. This includes more than 1,600 Verizon directory titles with a total circulation of approximately 112 million copies in the U.S. and 41 million copies internationally.
Verizon Information Services also produces and markets SuperPages.com, the Internet's leading online directory and shopping resource. SuperPages.com has received up to 4.2 million visits and 2.3 million unique visitors per month, and is the exclusive provider of a comprehensive Yellow Pages service to AOL, Lycos, HotBot, Digital City and BigFoot.
Based in the Dallas area, Verizon Information Services is a unit of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), which was formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE. Verizon is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.