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Internet

Web sites still just brochures

Consumer goods manufacturers are embracing the Internet by setting up Web sites, but most haven't moved beyond "brochureware," an industry survey says.

Consumer goods manufacturers are embracing the Internet by setting up Web sites, but most haven't moved beyond "brochureware" to sell goods or to strengthen ties to distributors, suppliers, or trading partners, according to an industry survey.

The study, "Integrating the Business for Growth," found that 62 percent of consumer goods manufacturers currently have an Internet presence, up from 33 percent in last year's study from consulting firm Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC).

Not selling on the Internet may reflect efforts to avoid undermining marketing by retail or wholesale distributors, but these consumer-oriented manufacturers also aren't setting up extranets to cut the costs and time on the supplier side, the results suggest.

The most Net-savvy segment was non-food packaged goods, with 81 percent of respondents reporting an Internet presence. Fashion, including manufacturers of apparel and footwear, had the lowest percentage of respondents with a corporate Web site: 55 percent. Study respondents covered trends in four principal segments: fashion (36 percent), specialty (25 percent), food and beverage (22 percent), and non-food packaged goods (17 percent).

The most popular uses for a Web site were corporate image-building (48 percent), product information (39 percent), and advertising specific products (34 percent). Consumer feedback (16 percent), collaboration with trading partners (10 percent), and online shopping (3 percent) were at the bottom of the list.

Control of the corporate Web site was split almost evenly between marketing departments and IS departments. Mike Klaus, managing director of CSC's consumer goods/retail consulting practice, said companies must integrate their Web operations with their corporate strategy and business functions.