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That is the finding of what LAPADA have called the most comprehensive survey of the trade’s use to date of information technology.

The survey, carried out by new dotcom firm Antiqueshunting.com as a 20-question addition to the annual LAPADA survey, was completed by 138 respondents, around a quarter of LAPADA’s membership.

According to this cross section, approximately 70 per cent of LAPADA members now have their own website, a rise of 10 per cent over 2003 figures, while more than 90 per cent of dealers surveyed use email. Interestingly, these figures fluctuate widely by region, with the majority of dealers with websites located in London (80%) and the South East (80%) and fewer in the Midlands (68%), the North West (50%) and the South West (48%). There were also differences seen by speciality – eight out of ten ceramics dealers surveyed had a website – and by gender, with women more likely to use the internet than men.

Nearly one in five dealers buy stock on the internet – particularly on eBay – although this depends on the speciality, with ceramics, silver and jewellery dealers more likely to buy online than clock, furniture or textile dealers. Of those dealers who said they had sold over the Web, ceramics dealers reported the largest take-up (an average of 13.3 pieces over the year), although specialists in furniture (12.7) and clocks (12.5) had also sold relatively well online.

Websites such as eBay are also an effective use of information, particularly when comparing prices.

However, the survey also suggests another side to the internet. Fewer than half antique dealers with a websites display stock and only one in ten sites has the capability to accept payment online.

Just over half (51 per cent) reported fewer than 10,000 visitors per year on their websites – an indication that marketing a website is as important as its content.