April 25, 2001, 12:00 AM

Retailers, distributors lag in b2b e-commerce, says a new study

Retailers and distributors worldwide are less likely to adopt b2b initiatives than other industries, but most likely to automate entire supply chains when deploying e-commerce.

Retail and distribution companies around the world are less likely to adopt b2b initiatives than other industries, but are the most likely to automate their entire supply chains when deploying e-commerce, according to a global survey sponsored by Izodia, a provider of b2b e-commerce software and services. More than half of U.K. retailers and distributors who participated in the survey are deploying b2b e-commerce applications, vs. 32% of U.S. and 22% of German retail and distribution companies.

Although the retail and distribution sector in general falls behind other sectors -- such as manufacturing -- in adopting b2b, the sector is the most likely to automate both the supply and procurement functions within their respective organizations. Sixty-seven percent of retail and distribution companies planned to automate their entire supply chains, compared with 60% in manufacturing and 59% in the finance sector.

Concerns that the retail and distribution sector identified are the ability to get value out of the investment, the ability to integrate with existing systems and the cost of B2B solutions.

"Retail and distribution companies have the highest instance of automating both procurement and supply-side e-commerce solutions, as opposed to just one or the other. We believe this sector understands the benefits of moving up and down the supply chain and recognizes that no single company is just a buyer or a seller," said Anthony Stepanski, CEO of Izodia. "In particular, retail and distribution companies are more concerned with logistics being incorporated into the supply chain due to the nature of their business."

The company interviewed 360 executives in companies with annual revenues below $700 million in the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Holland and South Africa. Companies equally represented three key industry segments: manufacturing, retail and distribution and finance. Participants were asked about their company`s adoption of b2b e-commerce, the benefits they expected to derive and the timetables for which they expected to implement b2b initiatives. Participants also were asked to outline their top priorities when faced with implementing b2b e-commerce ventures and their expectations for return on investment.

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