Small businesses are going online in a big way, performing customer service functions, keeping in touch with clients, and researching business products and services, according to a survey by Cyber Dialog/FindSVP.
The survey, which polled a thousand U.S. businesses with fewer
than 100 employees, revealed that 37% of small companies–an estimated 2.6 million in the U.S.–“conduct business online.” Of those, 84% sent e-mail to
customers (65% used e-mail daily), 80% used the Web to find
information (53% used it daily), and 38% purchased business
products or services online.
Half of the businesses surveyed said they believed their online
presence helped them offer better customer service, and a quarter of them
attributed a sales increase to their being online.
The question is not what are some of these businesses doing right, but what are some of them not doing?
The broad reach of the Internet and its usefulness in a variety of business applications–from catalogs to sales notifications to online banking–means that almost any business can make good use of it.
The fact that only half believed the Net helped them offer better customer service is more indicative of the other half’s not taking advantage of the Internet. Whether that means redesigning their Web sites, coming up with a more useful online business plan, or simply hiring a consultant, those businesses not happy with the results of the Internet are likely not devoting the resources to it.