The Big question – FDs have e-commerce doubts

Fresh evidence that companies will not make money from e-commerce for the foreseeable future has been revealed by this week’s Accountancy Age/Reed Accountancy Personnel Big Question survey.

The government’s long-awaited e-commerce Bill, which is being prepared for publication, and commitments from businesses as large as PricewaterhouseCoopers to spend ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ on e-commerce and technology had been expected to boost internet trading.

But most finance directors believe their companies will not make money from the internet in the next year.

Some 47% of FDs said their business would not profit from e-commerce over the next year. Only 42% expected to make money from internet-based trading.

One said: ‘We use the internet as an advertising tool, but it has not been that successful.’ Others believed it was too soon to judge whether e-commerce was a worthwhile investment.

‘It is still in the very early stages at present,’ said Mark Taylor, finance director of Public Sector Publishing.

Others preferred to use the internet for information. Chris Harris of Derek Lovejoy Partnership, the landscape architect, said: ‘At present we see the internet as a source of information rather than a source of trading.’

Some FDs were confident their business would be able to make money through the Web and saw it as an important growth area.

‘We already use e-commerce and expect 50% of our business to come from it in the near future,’ said Peter Rowse of De Longhi, which distributes electrical parts.

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