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~ 71% of sites are profitable in 2003 ~

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14 April 2003 ~ Leading ecommerce software vendor, Actinic, announces the
results of its third independent annual survey of the ecommerce market for
small and medium-sized enterprises in the UK. Conducted by pfa Research,
the report's highlights show that the high level of profitability of
ecommerce sites seen in 2002 has been sustained in 2003; over half of SMEs
are planning to invest in further development of their sites; in the retail
sector, nearly half of businesses now use a boxed software solution in
preference to custom-built design and, in fact, spending more on a bespoke
site does not increase profitability. A copy of the full report is
available free from or by email from

"The results of this year's survey indicate a growing maturity in the SME
ecommerce sector, and companies now regard the internet as more important
to their business than they did in 2002," comments Chris Barling, CEO of
Actinic. "We can also see a profile emerging for what makes sites
profitable. Typically, profitable sites are built using a boxed solution,
and have a total cost of implementation of at least £1000."

Report Highlights

In summary, ecommerce adoption rates, future plans and attitudes remain
similar to last year. Merchants are increasingly looking to web designers
and IT professionals as a first source of advice, but more ecommerce site
building is being done in- house. Factors influencing site profitability
are starting to emerge.

Ecommerce site profitability

* 71% of sites are profitable in 2003 - statistically identical to 72% last

* Companies whose sites are profitable are focused on customer
relationships and service.

* Bespoke design does not increase profitability.

* No site built with an investment of less than £1000 was profitable - but
greater investment did not guarantee greater profit.

* Shortage of skills is still a barrier to profitability for some.

Ecommerce adoption

* In the retail sector, almost half of SMEs are now using a boxed software
solution, either for a site they have built themselves, or as part of a
complete solution they have purchased.

* The overall rate of adoption of ecommerce among small and medium
businesses has fallen somewhat, from 26% to 21%.

Future plans and intentions

* A majority of businesses - 53% - are planning to invest in further
development of their sites.

* There has been no significant change in the percentage of businesses that
do not have an ecommerce site but are planning to implement one. Those that
have actively decided not to implement ecommerce have done so for purely
business rather than technical reasons.

Sources of advice and construction

* Web designers and other IT professionals have become more important as
the first source of information about ecommerce, but more companies are
turning to in-house expertise for the final building of the site.

Business importance of the internet

* Companies regard the internet as more important to their business than in
2002, particularly for providing information on goods and services and for
taking orders.


The research was based on interviews with 185 companies selected at random
from an independent database. The companies were spread evenly across the
retail, wholesale and manufacturing sectors. All had web sites and between
1 and 249 employees. Another 214 were willing to be interviewed but did not
have a web site.

The research is conducted on an annual basis by pfa Research, to:

* Establish adoption and intention to adopt ecommerce amongst UK SMEs

* Monitor experiences, expectations and perceptions of UK SMEs towards
trading online

* Identify changes in the above when compared with previous years' surveys.

For further comment, contact:

Chris Barling, CEO of Actinic. Tel 01932 871000,

Actinic PR: Jane Lee, Dexterity. Tel 01273 470199,

About Actinic Software Ltd.:

Actinic power far more UK ecommerce sites than any other company. Search
for "acatalog" in Google to see the vast range of online stores that run
using Actinic.

Founded in 1996, Actinic specialises in developing PC-based ecommerce
software for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that want to sell
online. Actinic is a key partner in the DTI's UK online for business
programme. Some of Actinic's better known UK users include the Royal Opera
House, Lloyds of London, Focus Do-it-All, Robert Dyas, the Royal Navy and

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