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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Shelley Taylor, US: 1-650/473-6514 or shelley@infofarm.com

NEW STUDY DEFLATES BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS E-COMMERCE BUZZ

PALO ALTO, CA, 16 June Groundbreaking research on the current corporate web site practices of the world's most successful companies was released today by Shelley Taylor & Associates. The Missing Link 1999,  the second annual international study of corporate web site performance, concludes that global companies fail to cash in on the benefits of business-to-business e-commerce.

The Missing Link 1999, analyzes 100  Global-1000  web sites representing a cross-industry sample from 10 countries. The 420 proprietary evaluation criteria used to analyze the content and activities that support relationships with key audiences customers, potential employees and shareholders are destined to become the defining standards of successful corporate web sites.

"One of the myths of business-to-business e-commerce is that 'every one is doing it," argues Shelley Taylor, managing director and author of the study. "In fact, most business-to-business e-commerce is only an extension of traditional land-based channels. Few new customers are actually acquired through the internet. Cisco, for example, only allows transactions on its web sites from existing customers."

Referring to the quality of the business-to-business shopping experience, Shelley Taylor continues, "The size and scale of business-to-business transactions may be impressive and suggests that businesses have different shopping needs from retail customers. But the individuals in companies who make purchasing decisions have decades of land-based shopping experiences and preferences on which they draw.  Business-to-business sites leave much room for improvement. Online shopping may be a new medium but shopping is not a new human activity. Companies that do sell to businesses online should therefore take a few lessons from both land- and web-base retail wisdom."

THE BEST OF THE BEST
Companies in the sample were evaluated in seven areas: site entry, navigation, the home page, company information, content for customers (business-to-business e-commerce, business-to-consumer e-commerce, general), content for potential employees and content for shareholders.

  • Cisco Systems   Ranked #1 Best Practices Overall (and #1 for Navigation and Recruitment content)
  • Porsche Ranked #1 for Site Entry (in terms of software & technology requirements)
  • Dell Ranked #1 for General Customer Content, Business-to-Business E-commerce, and Business-to-Consumer E-commerce
  • Intel Ranked #1 for Investor Content


DEBUNKING, DISPELLING AND DEMYSTIFYING BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS E-COMMERCE
Predictions of the boom in business-to-business e-commerce are overstated. Most of the boom is the conversion of existing land-based customers to web-based order processing and customer service.

  • although 90% of companies in the sample sell products to other businesses, only 9% allow new business customers to initiate transactions online
  • only one of the nine with new customer shopping capabilities provides customers with the ability to create a purchase order online


MUSCLE MEMORY (OR THE PRESCRIPTION FOR CORPORATE ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE)
Employees, the companies source of intellectual capital (and the organization's muscle memory) are undervalued by most companies. The ability to attract highly-trained employees in such a fiercely competitive market requires that companies communicate effectively who they are and who they are trying to attract

  • only 44% of sites have primary links for prospective employees (e.g., Jobs or Employment Opportunities) on their home pages and 14% of global companies have no employment information
  • only 22% of sites have information about their corporate culture


BOYS AND THEIR TOYS (OR GIRLS AND THEIR GIZMOS)
Such requirements such as the latest  browser version, plug-ins, screen size and resolution, fast modem speed and RAM may actually discourage laptop users, those using older equipment and first time users from gaining entrance into the online store.

  • only 4% of  companies provided a reduced bandwidth or text only- option
  • 19% of sites require plug-ins for optimal viewing


The detailed findings present a company-by-company analysis with specific examples of best and worst practice.  The Missing Link 1999  is available for purchase from the US office
(tel: 1-650-473-6514) or London office (44-171-243-3438) Editor's Note: An Executive Summary is available to editors and journalists upon request. We also have summaries of key data by country for the UK, France, German, Switzerland and Sweden.

Shelley Taylor & Associates is an international management consulting and business publishing firm.

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