Despite the long-hyped potential for cost savings, many businesses have been slow to use online exchanges to buy supplies via the Internet, according to studies released this week at the Global Internet Summit being held at George Mason University in Virginia.

According to a story in the Washington Post , the National Association of Manufacturers and consulting firm Ernst & Young reported at the summit that fewer than 1% of manufacturers are deeply involved with electronic commerce. Furthermore, only 24% consider e-commerce participation to be one of their top three priorities this year. Another study by Internet consulting firm Jupiter Research said that only 20% of corporate purchasing agents would use the Internet for business transactions by 2002.

None of that is good news for online exchanges, which have been considered one of the more promising market niches for Internet growth – especially as using such exchanges has been touted as a major way to reduce the cost of ordering supplies, reducing paperwork and increasing order cycle times.

One reason for the slow use of online exchanges: over half of the businesses surveyed by Jupiter Research -- some 58% -- said their suppliers are not online yet.