Small firms rush to sell online

Spam and viruses are scaring many small companies away from e-business - but a significant number are still eager to begin selling online

A significant number of small businesses are planning to join the world of e-commerce in the next 12 months, despite deep concern about viruses and spam.

That's one key finding from research carried out by Web hosting firm NetBenefit published this week.

In its State of the eNation Survey 2003, NetBenefit reports that 12 percent of Britain's small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) expect to begin offering e-commerce services within the next year.

This would raise the amount of UK SMEs with e-commerce-enabled Web sites to 32 percent.

Oftel's latest figures for Internet penetration indicate that only 65 percent of SMEs have an Internet connection, so NetBenefit's figures show that many e-enabled firms aren't just stopping at a Web link, and are keen to become fully fledged online retailers.

The State of the eNation study surveyed more than 400 SMEs and large companies. It also found that spam and viruses are the main reasons why some SMEs are reluctant to get involved with e-business -- concerns that are unlikely to have diminished following the arrival of the Sobig-F worm.