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Despite the rapid increase of ecommerce the majority of retailers are neglecting to reap online benefits, a survey by Actinic Publishers has shown.

The findings highlight the increased profitability of retail Web stores in the small to medium-sized business sector. However, the results reveal that a disproportionately low number of businesses are adopting online business channels. The net result of this could be supplier shortage and limited consumer choice due to vendors' resistance to ecommerce adoption.

Actinic CEO Chris Barling said: "Surveys over the last year have consistently found that online spending is growing rapidly, but that's only one side of the coin. Just as importantly, our results show that economic profitability is growing too, the low overheads compared to a high street outlet make selling online especially attractive to start-ups and micro-businesses.

The survey shows that the profitability of retail Web stores has increased from 53 per cent in 2003 to 72 per cent this year. In contrast, only three per cent of retailers have an online sales facility. Among companies that have yet to adopt ecommerce, fewer blamed lack of interest from customers while more blamed lack of resources.

Barling added: "What I find disappointing is that the vast majority of retail businesses are not taking advantage of this golden opportunity to increase their sales, profits and customer base."

What is encouraging, however, is that ecommerce is most popular among entrepreneurs and small businesses with 40 per cent of ecommerce businesses starting up online exclusively, and 75 per cent of sites run by companies with 10 employees or less.

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