Ecommerce specialist Access Accounting is disputing the results of a survey of internet uptake by small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) sponsored by online marketplace Mondus.
The Mori survey, conducted earlier this year, claimed that "SMEs are flocking to buy and sell on the internet", and estimated that 75 per cent of SMEs had a website and that nearly half were buying goods and services online.
Mondus provides a virtual marketplace where suppliers can sell a range of business products and services to SMEs.
Founder and chief executive Rouzbeh Pirouz said: "The results of the survey clearly illustrate that SMEs are acutely aware of the benefits that trading online can deliver, and keen to take advantage of this channel. Indeed, they show that more than 50 per cent of suppliers, and a similar percentage of [SME] buyers, are already trading online in some form."
But the upbeat spin and the figures themselves have caused consternation among SME rivals and analysts.
A spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses said: "Only a handful of our members have websites, so I would question whether these figures are correct. The smallest businesses are still well behind in the adoption of internet technology."
The numbers also conflict with a survey last year by the Department of Trade and Industry which estimated that less than 15 per cent of small businesses - i.e. with less than 10 employees - had moved onto the web.
"If the figures are to be believed it seems there has been a leap in the number of businesses embracing ecommerce," said Marcus Russell, general manager of the Internet Division at Access Accounting.
"Our British Business Online campaign was started to raise awareness and increase confidence in trading on the net. It seems the message is starting to get through but we have a lot more to do to truly compete with the US in the internet economy," he added.
Access Accounting, which sells the AccessWeb ecommerce package, did agree with some results of the survey, however, such as identifying security issues and IT skills shortages as big hurdles for SMEs in getting online.
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