Encouraging E-Commerce Among Australian SMEs

Australian Business (ABL), a national business improvement organisation, has announced it will spend up to AUS$4 million over the next year to ensure its SME members achieve the benefits of engaging in e-commerce.

The initiative will involve ABL which has 5,000 members, giving businesses access to its business-to-business e-commerce system Tradehub, as well as a series of training, consulting and support services for establishing e-commerce.

ABL managing director Philip Holt, said ABL has taken a leadership role with its commitment “the biggest by any business chamber or association in Australia” to ensure small to medium-sized enterprises were skilled and ready to participate in the new electronic ways of doing business.

“A lot of lip-service has been paid to the importance of getting SMEs involved in business-to-business e-commerce. Everybody recognises the enormous and difficult task of reaching out to SMEs,” said Holt. “This is our attempt to get on with it and learn.”

The first stage of rollout will provide members who are IT ready with the opportunity to buy and sell using Tradehub.

As part of the plans ABL will also trial a new entry-level e-commerce enabling technology the iPhone, which allows businesses to use the Internet and receive e-mail without the complexities of ordinary PCs.

A pilot program already underway, has seen the placing of 50 such units with Internet-inexperienced companies. If these units prove successful, the organisation will look at supplying the iPhones to member companies at discounted prices.

The e-commerce initiatives stem from ABL’s commitment four years ago to allocate substantial financial resources in developing new online technologies.

Holt said the new initiatives, together with the ongoing expenditure of ABL subsidiaries Australian Business Online and Tradehub, will amount to a commitment of more than AUD$15 million over the next two years.

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