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Manufacturers not weaving their webs

MATERIALS - Report nds materials manufacturers are not keeping up-to-date with internet

LUDDITE material manufacturers are losing out on orders because they have not invested enough cash into developing business through the internet, a report by industry researcher Barbour has claimed.

The report slammed manufacturers and producers for failing to invest time and money in improving internet sites in an effort to attract more business.

It claimed that almost half of building material specifiers were unable to name a well-run manufacturers' site, despite almost 60 per cent of contractors admitting they used the internet as a first port of call when researching products.

And, although the number of building sites with direct internet access has rocketed to almost 80 per cent and a whopping 95 per cent of technical staff have a high-speed internet connection, it claimed that manufacturers did not take internetderived business seriously.

Speaking at the launch of the report, David Bentley, managing director at construction internet company NetConstruct, said the industry should see the report as a warning.

He said: 'Manufacturers who make a point of understanding what the web can do for them and keep up to date are reaping the rewards.'

He claimed that many manufacturers saw the internet as peripheral to their business and had failed to recognise a shift in buying patterns.

He said: 'There are manufacturers who have placed their website development on the back burner and increasingly that approach is looking damaging and unsustainable.'

The report claimed that:

More than 90 per cent of specifiers had broadband internet access;

80 per cent of specifiers preferred to download material from websites than receive hard copies;

79 per cent of sites had internet connect ions, up f rom 17 per cent in 2001.

But some manufacturers hit back, claiming they had invested huge amounts into website design. One said: 'Some websites are not great, but most are functional at least. I don't think the industry has anything to be worried about.'