Reaping rewards from ecommerce is a waiting game for small businesses, warned a Cardiff University professor at InterForum.
But the benefits are well worth the wait, as 10 companies discovered nine months after starting to trade online.
Tony Davies, BT professor of electronic commerce, was involved in a BT-sponsored project that helped 10 small businesses to start trading electronically and consequently, boost their trade.
'While the benefits are not immediate, they can be radical', he said.
Chesivale Electronics, a supplier of test equipment, improved customer service and cut costs by placing its manuals online.
Each upgrade to the 1,200 paper manuals it supplied previously cost £7,200.
By supplying these electronically, it reduced costs for the first upgrade to £1,895, of which £1,329 was a one-off cost for ISDN lines.
Cable harness maker Excel Electronic Assemblies was taking two and a half days to acquire manufacturing and scheduling information from its large customers.
By using email, the company cut this delay to virtually zero and costs fell to £1,947 from £4,600. The payback period on its investment in hardware and ISDN line was two and a half months.
Davies said that the increased efficiency persuaded one customer to make Excel its sole trading partner, which increased Excel's turnover by 10%.
Trophy Miniatures, maker of military models, put its catalogue on the web and increased sales by 62%, with 75% of its orders coming from the US.
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