Half of all US small businesses have participated in online purchasing, spending approximately $45 billion annually, according to research conducted by card payment organisation MasterCard International.
The Small Business Tracking Survey, a new bi-annual survey sponsored by MasterCard to analyse e-commerce trends affecting small businesses, found that many small and home-based organisations (Sohos) also are using the Internet as a sales channel, generating online sales of approximately $56 billion.
Additionally, the survey projects online purchasing among Sohos will rise 16 percent over the next six months. The number of Sohos selling online is expected to grow 82 percent during the same period.
The products and services most frequently purchased online by Sohos are office supplies (52%); software (51%); books and publications (48%); business equipment (46%); and travel services (45%).
Other key findings:
* eighty-one percent of Sohos have Internet access;
* fifty-one percent of Sohos with Internet access have Web sites:
* Sohos spend approximately $700 per month on online purchases; and
* eighty-eight percent of Sohos use payment cards, such as a credit, debit or purchasing card for online purchases.
The survey uses information from a panel of 5000 Soho business owners and operators and evaluates how small and home offices are using the Internet for online commerce, e-mail and information gathering. MasterCard says it will use the data to tailor and develop its small business programmes.
According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses represent more than 99 percent of all employers in the United States and generate more than half of the national gross domestic product.