POLL: 3 OF 5 U.S. FIRMS BUY OR SELL ON INTERNET

NEW YORK — Three out of five U.S. companies are currently using e-commerce for buying or selling activities, but questions about the outlook for cyberbusiness remain, according to a recent poll by the National Association of Business Economists.
Currently, U.S. companies are using the Internet more for selling than buying, by a slim margin, the survey found, but purchasing looks to be gaining momentum. Four out of five businesses surveyed by the Washington-based group said they intend to buy and sell online.
“The adaptation of e-commerce for both purchasing and selling is a fairly recent phenomenon, with most firms reporting it is still too soon to tell the impact on margins,” said Diane Swonk, president of NABE and chief economist at Bank One Corp.
“The use of the technology is becoming fairly widespread, however,” Swonk added, “and its impact reaches well beyond purchasing and selling activities.”
The National Association of Business Economists pointed out that while players in several industries — such as retail, travel and oil — have announced plans to form online purchasing alliances, it remains to be seen how well those partnerships and their business-to-business Web sites will function.
One in four of the companies surveyed by the NABE said the proliferation of e-commerce is having a “major impact” on their organization structure. Thirty-one percent of respondents said e-commerce has made their industries more competitive, with only 7 percent saying they did not think cybercommerce will have an impact on competition.
According to Swonk, NABE is planning to conduct more e-commerce surveys this year, focusing on organizational changes, and pricing strategies.