While the overwhelming majority of medium and large Australian companies have dipped a toe into the e-commerce pool, most are still working out how to safely wade in a little further.
That's the finding of IDC's Global IT Survey 2000 which reported that, despite 86 per cent of Australian medium and large businesses having established a home page on the Internet, the local business community still has a way to go before it can claim to have fully embraced the challenges and advantages of e-business.
"With most medium to large businesses agreeing that an Internet presence has been instrumental in enabling them to enhance their company image and reach a broader customer base, attention is now turning to the issue of providing genuine online business functionality that gives their customers the best online experience and delivers back to the company the best return on investment," Gianco Melcarne, senior analyst at IDC, said.
"However, the issue of security is stopping many companies from taking the next logical step and developing an e-commerce function that enables sales transactions to be carried out on the Internet.
"Our survey found only 18 per cent of the medium and large companies' home pages supported this feature."
Only 0.7 per cent of medium sized businesses' revenue is expected to come from Web sales in 2000, and a static 2 per cent from larger businesses.
Of the companies surveyed, 27 per cent said security is the primary obstacle to their businesses successful use of the Internet and its related technologies.
"The vulnerability of larger sites, such as Yahoo and Buy.com, to attacks has done little to reassure users that the Internet is secure," Melcarne said.
He suggested that, in order to alleviate the security concerns of companies, vendors have to "provide users with successful security systems.
"Vendors are aware that security is a major obstacle for companies," he said.
But companies must also play their part in reassuring customers, according to Brooke Galloway, senior analyst at IDC.
"Customers are concerned about revealing too much personal information online, but it all comes down to trust; there need to be relationships between companies and their customers."
Galloway also recommended companies liaise with their customers to determine their online strategies.
"Online customers are very demanding and nonforgiving, so if they don't get a positive online experience they just click' and go elsewhere," Galloway said.
"Just selling cheap products won't keep customers coming back.
"Companies need to be able to provide good services to their customers, which includes informing them of product availability and when they should expect to receive their product."
IDC's Global IT Survey 2000 gathered data from 15 countries, including Australia, where 347 medium and large businesses contributed.
Status of companies' e-commerce adoption.
Already implemented solution 21%
Being implemented at the moment 17%
Under evaluation 32%
Had no plans 26%
Don't know 4%
Source: IDC Global IT Survey 2000