E-Commerce Widely Used by Service Providers in the Information Economy


The acceptance of E-Commerce for purchasing is relatively high amongst service providers in the information economy. Around 65 per cent of these businesses use the internet as a purchasing channel.

The internet has not, however, yet established itself amongst service providers in the information industry as a sales channel. Although businesses with their own homepage are responsible for 95 per cent of the turnover generated in this sector, only 30 per cent of the businesses surveyed also offer their customers the opportunity of ordering goods or services online.

This is the finding of a survey carried out amongst service providers in the information economy. The sector of the IT-related service providers comprises Information and Communication Technology (ICT) service providers (firms providing computer service and leasing, ICT-specialised trade as well as telecommunication services) and knowledge intensive service providers (firms in the branches of tax consultancy and accounting, management consultancy, architecture, technical consultancy and planning, research and development as well as advertising). Around 1,200 businesses took part in the survey which was carried out by the Mannheim Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in collaboration with Creditreform, Neuss, in July 2002.

Firms providing computer services and leasing, as well as management consultancies, which enable customers to order their services online generate the greatest proportion of turnover in this sector - 70 per cent. Businesses engaged in research and development most rarely make use of the internet as a purchasing channel (share of turnover: 18%). It is particularly notable that service providers in East Germany (share of turnover: 40 per cent) make considerably less use of online purchasing possibilities than those located in West Germany (share of turnover: 67 per cent).

Those businesses which also use E-Commerce as a sales channel generate the greatest proportion of turnover. These include software providers, as well as technical consultancies and planners. Over half of the businesses in these branches already offer their services online. Tax advisors and accountants, however, make the least use of E-Commerce as a sales channel (share of turnover: 5 per cent). This is largely due to the nature of the services offered by these companies. It is, however, surprising that only around 30 per cent of businesses involved in ICT trade allow their customers to order their goods online.


Dr. Margit Vanberg, E-mail: vanberg@zew.de