Peter Minter, chairman of FleetNet, which campaigns for common standards in the electronic commerce industry, said: 'This is a vital issue which will be discussed in the boardroom and fleet managers must ensure they are involved. There are large financial benefits available from adopting electronic commerce. The fleet industry is fairly conservative, but it is important that there is change.'
He was backed by Tony O'Shaughnessy, chief executive of Alternative Business Solutions, who said: 'E-commerce is revolutionising the market place. Fleet managers should go back to their organisations and start banging on their chief executives door if they have not got an e-commerce strategy. Business-to-business e-commerce is underhyped and people are still happy to work with piles of fax paper and letters, but you don't need to do that.'
Adopting electronic commerce can slash costs by more than 70%, the conference heard, with electronic trading firm Oasis estimating the cost of dealing with every paper invoice at £4.50 compared with 50p for electronic trading. And O'Shaughnessy warned the contract hire industry it must increase the pace at which it produced new e-commerce products, adding: 'If contract hire firms have not got an e-commerce strategy developing then they risk not being able to compete in the next two to three years.'