The Myth of the e-Commerce Serf to Sovereign Powershift

The Myth of the e-Commerce Serf to Sovereign Powershift

Rachel McLean (Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-100-3.ch614
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As a social activity, the shopping experience can not be recreated or improved through technical design alone. This chapter proposes that there is incongruence in online retail provision and the needs or requirements of customers. It argues that a greater social awareness or sense of “audience” is required by retailers who adopt E-Commerce. Web sites and service provision need to be more closely related to social requirements to reduce the socio-technical gap. This chapter will attempt to deconstruct the belief that E-Commerce in its current format is bringing about a power shift. It focuses on five of the most prevalent strands of the myth that E-Commerce empowers customers. A critical social theory (CST) epistemology is adopted. Through a series of semi-structured interviews with consumers and consideration of the wider empirical evidence the myths are deconstructed. The chapter raises the question “how far can commercial enterprises afford to empower consumers” and reflects that rather than a “power shift” there has been a “responsibility shift”.

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