17 July 2003 | Robin Parker
Finding new suppliers is the single biggest benefit of being online for large businesses, a survey of more than 500 UK firms has found.
According to Continental Research's 2003 E-Business Report, 82 per cent of large firms cite the ability to source suppliers as a key advantage to their online strategy.
Around two-thirds of small and medium-sized companies agree, but place more emphasis on using the Internet generally to improve communication.
The report paints an optimistic picture of business use of the Internet, with 51 per cent of firms revealing that they will spend more on their online activities over the next year. Almost half now receive and process orders on the Internet, compared with 40 per cent a year ago.
Travel buying is a growing area, particularly among mid-size firms, 57 per cent of which book travel online. Office supplies are bought online by 26 per cent of firms, compared with 21 per cent last year.
Around 36 per cent of companies order goods or raw materials through the web - an increase of 7 per cent on 2002's figures. Among large firms, the figure rises to 52 per cent.
The findings follow a report from eMarketer, an analyst firm that pulls together data from different sources, which claims European online business-to-business trade will grow by 67 per cent this year to $314 billion.