An Exploratory Study on Small Business Website Creation and Usage

An Exploratory Study on Small Business Website Creation and Usage

Chuleeporn Changchit (Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX, USA) and Tim Klaus (Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, TX, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/jeco.2015010101
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Abstract

This study aims at exploring the factors related to the implementation of E-commerce websites by small business owners. While large organizations often consider E-commerce as a fundamental piece of their business strategy, small businesses place varying degrees of importance on E-commerce as a strategic tool to business success. Through a survey of small businesses, this study examines the creation and usage of E-commerce websites for small businesses. For companies with only a web presence, as well as for companies with an E-commerce website, the top two reasons for an E-commerce website identified by respondents of this study are to increase the profits of the company and to increase the market share. The study also found that factors such as lack of management support and costs greater than benefits were not detrimental to the decision to implement an E-commerce solution. Additional factors motivating small businesses to create and use E-commerce websites include the ability to better respond to customer demands and increased profits as a result of having E-commerce websites. This study contributes to the E-commerce literature by highlighting motivations of small business owners as they consider implementing E-commerce solutions.
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1. Introduction

Electronic commerce (E-commerce) is becoming increasingly more important to businesses. E-commerce sales continue to grow at a rapid rate, with the U.S. Census Bureau reporting that in 2011, E-commerce sales rose to one hundred and ninety-four billion dollars, a sixteen percent (16%) increase from 2010 (Yu, 2012). E-commerce sales in the United States are projected to be four hundred fourteen billion dollars by 2018 (Mulpuru, 2014).

Internet usage and online marketing are not new. However, they continue to adapt as social media and search engine allow companies to accumulate more information about customers and create more targeted advertisements. How a business uses the Internet to entice and retain its customers are major concerns as a consumers’ level of trust affects the personal and financial data they provide to a site. A lack of trust induces a loss of control and confidence, causing an obstacle to the adoption of E-commerce (Pavlou & Fygenson, 2006).

Various terms are used to describe electronic business including E-business, E-commerce, E-infrastructure, and even the “new economy.” Many firms around the world are using the Internet to facilitate increasing portions of their businesses, such as supply chain management, financial transactions, and communications with customers. E-commerce can be beneficial to companies by eliminating time differences and distances, gaining information parity, improving supply chain management, and equalizing worldwide marketing for smaller businesses. It is a powerful global tool that increases access to worldwide markets and aides businesses in building up name recognition that otherwise would be impossible using traditional means of marketing (Levenburg, Schwarz, & Motwani, 2005).

The marketing of E-commerce websites continues to grow with the level of E-commerce sales. This phenomenon has made E-commerce websites one of the most important marketing channels for many companies, regardless of their size. As such, online marketing has become, and will continue to develop into, a full and complete business model for some companies. Internet firms such as Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, and Zappos have already proven this type of business model can be very successful. E-commerce marketers strive to have carefully placed ads on websites viewed by their target market. By better understanding their customers and providing a suitable web experience, this business model can be more successfully accomplished. Research has shown that marketers can persuade a potential customer’s decision making process when a satisfactory web-experience is offered (Constantinides, 2004).

There has been much publicity concerning E-commerce largely due to the perception that it affects the way business is done by brick and mortar companies. E-commerce can change the way an organization accomplishes its processes. It can abolish time and distance barriers, accelerate business processes, improve communications with customers, suppliers and employees, and create new promotional opportunities that might not have been possible before E-commerce. Many companies have found that establishing a website to facilitate E-commerce is an advantageous business strategy. The equipment needed to use the Internet is relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Search engines make finding information easy. Web pages can be constructed using software that is inexpensive and user friendly. Thus, many companies are now using the Internet to conduct business in varying degrees.

Small businesses are an important part of E-commerce. Small businesses provide a significant level of economic growth and are an important part of the economy. The United States Small Business Administration reports that small businesses have generated sixty-three percent (63%) of new jobs (SBA, 2014) and continues to create more new jobs than larger businesses can (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013).

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