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The Impact of E-Commerce Technologies on Business Practices

Contents
Abstract 3
Introduction.. 3
Literature Review.. 4
E-commerce activities. 4
Applying e-commerce in technical firms. 5
Factors influencing e-commerce adoption in different regions. 5
Application of e-commerce using appropriate models. 7
Benefits of e-commerce in supply chain management 7
Benefits of e-procurement 8
The support for e-commerce. 8
Conclusion.. 9
Bibliography. 10
Appendix. 11
 

 
The Impact of E-Commerce Technologies on Business Practices
Abstract
Background: Traditional ways of doing business are changing. More efficient ways of doing business are coming up as a result of transformation in communication technologies. Advancement in information technologies has brought about the internet which is an efficient electronic tool of communication. With the internet, there has been the development of e-commerce which has totally transformed business.
Aims: There are voluminous benefits of e-commerce with some few constraints. This paper looks into e-commerce: the rate at which it has been adopted in business, its benefits and challenges.
Method: This paper looked into different aspects of e-commerce especially so in business organizations. Data about e-commerce, its adoption in business and how it is changing business was gathered from different sources more so the latest academic journals and books. From the data finings and conclusions were derived.
Results: From all the data and literature collected it was evident that e-commerce is the way to go in business because. E-commerce has revitalized and paced up the rate at which business transactions take place. A few challenges of adopting e-commerce were also identified in the literature.
Conclusion: The findings in this research are important and can act as motivators for businesses which have not fully incorporated e-commerce business practices. The conclusion is drawn from literature and highlights the areas of importance. Major points are noted here.
Introduction
The development of the World Wide Web has been a process or a journey which began in the early years of the 20th century. The web has been structured so that it could capture different needs in business. Ancient business was facing many challenges. One of the main challenges of early commerce is that it entirely depended on the manual transactions which were slower and inefficient and pegged on physical proximity of business people. In the second half of the 20th century, the development of the internet and the worldwide web gained momentum. It pace of growth accelerated. Though many advanced business firms had already began using internet or web services in transacting, it is at this time that many businesses began gaining the real sense of e-commerce in business enhancement (Ching and Ellis, 2004). Therefore, many firms began making efforts to connect and export their businesses to the internet and the World Wide Web.
Firms began realizing the benefits of the web service though with various bottlenecks as it is common with new technologies. The benefits of e-commerce continued to take root in business as more people were absorbed into using the e-web services or the internet. E-commerce can be defined as a process through which goods and services are bought and sold using the electronic data transmission services which are found on the internet and the worldwide web. There is a broad range of e-commerce activities. Among them is online shopping, Online retailing, e-selling and purchasing, e-procurement, e-travelling, online banking electronic payment of online services and online investment (Grandona and Pearson, 2004),
As it is today the use of the internet has spread world over with more that a billion people being active users of the internet. The internet has become a lifestyle for most people and even organizations. It would be unreasonable for any person to argue that the web has not revolutionized business as this is too obvious and evident in different business sectors. E-commerce is used in different kinds of business: both products-centered and service-oriented businesses. With the help of e-commerce technologies and services, business firms have been able to form and expand their customer bases. Customers can also easily access business products and services. Therefore, e-commerce has a positive impact in business. It is one of the main drivers of business excellence and performance (McIvor, Humphreys and Huang, 2001).
This paper thus assesses the level of e-commerce use in business and the benefits and setbacks in e-commerce implementation and use in business firms.
Literature Review
E-commerce activities
There are different types of e-commerce services most of which aim at accelerating the pace of service delivery and improving efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery. The first e-commerce service is the business to consumer –B2C. In such services, organizations seek to use e-technologies to reach their customers or consumers in a more expansive way. We also have business to business e-commerce services – B2B. This takes place in the transaction between different firms. B2B services are used in business development as organizations work with others to maximize on business functions. A firm may be working with other supplier organization or the industry from where it gets some of its supplies or where it takes supplies. The working between and among these organization can be enhanced if the organization ops to adopt B2B services. This will only be effective when both organizations are using e-services. Consumer to consumer C2C is another e-service. This mostly happens in internet auctions and classified advertisements. C2C selling is common in a number of countries where buying and selling takes place on auctions sites with auctions being conducted by intermediary firms like e-Bay (Rainer & Cegielski, 2011).
Business to employee – B2E services are used for enhancing the relationship between the organization and its workforce. The organization uses e-commerce to give information and provide services to the employees. Through E-services employees are enabled to manage the benefits from the organization. Employees are also allowed to take classes electronically. The access and transacting of the business of the organization becomes easier due to easy access to information and other services. B2E is used in human resource management to improve employee-management relationships in the organization. It improves organizational delivery (Rainer & Cegielski, 2011).
Lastly we have e-governance which is the incorporation of e-commerce in pubic administration. Governments are continuing to adopt e-commerce in public services in order to make the public service to bring about efficiency and speed up public transactions. When the delivery of public services is improved the business environment is greatly improved. The public service is the major determiner of the business atmosphere and environment in any given nation. They give supportive services to both public and private enterprises (Cui, Zhang, Zhang and Huang, 2006).
Applying e-commerce in technical firms
In the past two decades, there has been a change in the application of e-commerce in business. E-commerce application in firms has been shifting from its earlier focus on technology to focus on technology users. E-commerce has therefore become identified in communication and strategies as well as the general business practices. E-commerce helps in the exchange of information and eases the execution of business transactions between individuals and enterprises. E-commerce enables firms to adopt electronic communication practices in business processes via the Electronic Data Interchange. E-commerce has found a very soft ground more so in technology intensive industries like the Pharmaceutical industry. Such industries utilize high levels of technology thus e-commerce services will easily blend with the practices in these industries boosting the rate of transactions. For firms in these industries to perform well and sustain their growth as well as gain competitive advantage over other firms, they must adapt and implement innovative technologies. E-commerce is one of these required technologies as it gives firms in the industry a better mode of transacting. E-commerce has far reaching positive effects when applied on a business-to-business basis. An example is when different enterprises within the industry converges with the aim of consulting on processes and crafting key decisions on products such as clinical development and test of drugs, marketing and sales, people management and drug innovation among others. E-commerce is synchronized with the corporate strategies of firms which bring significant value in firms and the industry at large. The value created has positive implication on both products and processes in the firms (Kanungo, 2004).
Factors influencing e-commerce adoption in different regions
Zhu &Thatcher (2010) observe that the rate of use of e-commerce differs in different regions and different countries of the world because of the varied features inherent in these countries or regions. Different countries have different levels of technological infrastructure which affect the adoption of e-commerce. Research has ascertained that e-commerce adoption has three main perspectives which determine its application in business. These are environmental, firm and technology perspectives. Under the environmental perspective, there are three main areas of focus. These are the economic, institutional and the social cultural environment. All the three environments have forces which affect e-commerce adoption, implementation and enforcement. The firm perspective on the other has its forces which include the corporate strategy of the firm, managerial attitudes, globalization and external pressures. We also have got the technological perspective which entails the macro technology environment and the technical strengths of the firm applying the technology. Further research showed that these perspectives affect different organizations differently. An organization may have a full grasp of one perspective and yet lack the others. This will still hinder the firm in developing e-commerce practices. The three perspectives are interactive thence a lapse or weakness in any end up influencing the entire process of ecommerce adoption (Li & Xie, 2012).
Studies which were conducted in Singapore in the year 2003 showed that Singapore was more ready as far as the development and use of e-commerce technologies was concerned. Singapore was noted as having certain specific features such as efficient telecommunication and transport infrastructure, transparent financial and legal structures and a very affluent population which has well articulated multicultural links. The population uses the English language as a common language in communication (Li & Xie, 2012).
The table below is a summary of research which was conducted by different scholars in different times and regions to ascertain factors which influence the adoption of e-commerce.

Author and year
Scope of analysis
Influencing factors

Rodrı´guez-Ardura and
Meseguer-Artola (2010)
Spain
Non-technological external factors
Technological external factors
Non-technological internal factors
Technological internal factors

Shih (2008)
Taiwan
Pressure from customers, suppliers and
competitors

Kshetri (2007)
Developing
countries
Economic factors
Sociopolitical factors
Cognitive factors

Ho et al. (2007)
17 European
countries
Internet penetration
Telecommunication investment intensity
Education level
Regional contagion

Hong and Zhu (2006)
America and
Canada
Technology innovation
Web spending
Web functionalities
Partner use

Molla and Licker (2005)
South Africa
Perceived organizational e-readiness
Perceived environmental e-readiness

Brousseau (2003)
France
Early adoption of Minitel and EDI
Macroeconomic climate
Distribution channels

Wong (2003)
Singapore
Demographic structure
Physical infrastructure
Human resources
Financial and legal institutions
E-commerce policy initiatives

Figure 1.0 factors influencing e-commerce adoption.
Source: (Li & Xie, 2012).
From the data in the table it is noted that different regions and countries are affected by different factors. The level of development is a major boosting factor for e-commerce adoption.
Application of e-commerce using appropriate models
According to Lee and Kim (2007), the use of e-commerce by business firms is considered to be of a big advantage. It is seen as one way through which business organizations can remain competitive thence relevant in the prevailing business environment. Just like it would be for any venture, there are considerations that have to be adhered to prior to the initiation of e-commerce in business. There are different models which can be followed in initiating e-commerce by firms. Most of the models of e-commerce application show that e-commerce is beneficial to business organizations. Research has shown that most e-commerce initiatives in business end up either failing or not achieving full results or exploiting all the potential due to poor or mal-planning which go into the initiative. Owing to this fact, different models of e-commerce have been developed which could bear more results if they are used by organizations prior to the acquisition and implementation of e-commerce. Most models of e-commerce ignore the planning aspect. Therefore, it will be beneficial if firms in their prior stages of e-commerce adoption focus on e-commerce planning models. These will give a good background for the organization eliminating gaps that are often inherent in the implementation phase (Kao & Decou, 2003).
Benefits of e-commerce in supply chain management
Due to the demands of the economy, firms across the world are being forced to reinvent the relations with their customers and suppliers by way of adding value to the relations at a minimized cost. Therefore research shows that many firms are adopting integrated global business models which end up further complicating their supply chains (Mora-Monge, 2010). Therefore companies are buying into information technology to help them in minimizing the impact of the complicated supply chains. They help in optimizing supply chains. Companies use B2B e-commerce transactions as evidenced in recent research (Crespo and Bosque, 2008).
E-commerce has a profound effect on supply chain. E-commerce has ben found to pace up the rate .of performance of many supply chains across different firms. This is evident in the findings of an empirical study by Hong, Tran and Park, 2010 titled “Electronic commerce applications for supply chain integration and competitive capabilities’. This research has its foundation in the resource based view theory. A model was developed by the authors and then tested using a total of 711 sample companies (IMSS IV). These firms were located in 20 different countries across the globe. The results showed the importance of two specific electronic technologies – Internet based communication and technologies and EDI for integrating supplier and consumer functions. The results revealed that supplier and customer chains can be enhanced by using selected forms of information and communication technologies in business (Hong, Tran & Park, 2010).
E-commerce is more beneficial to buyer seller relationships. It speeds up buyer-sellers transactions through what is called comparison shopping. Customers are able to compare prices of a big range of commodities quickly. These commodities are found on sales and advertising sites. Such sites are synonymous with certain industries for instance the automobile, air travel and insurance. E-commerce also cuts down the cost of business and raises competitiveness. The consumers will get to enjoy the services being provides on sites by firms competing. They are likely to get products at reduced prices. For the business firms, they will only undergo the initial cost of establishing internet and other e-commerce enablement tools. One this is established, the firms will experience reduced costs of the transactions that they make (Rob & Coronel, 2009).
Benefits of e-procurement
Quesada, Gonzalez, Muller and Muller conducted a research in the year 2010 titled “Impact of e-procurement on procurement practices and performance”. They wanted to establish the correlation between the usage of e- procurement technology, practices and their effect on procurement performance. They used a model which was derived form other researches. The model was tested using 368 procurement specialists as a sample. All the specialists came from the United States. The findings of this research indicated that procurement practices and e-procurement technology had a positive effect when applied in business firms. The findings also showed that there was a high rate of adoption of e-procurement services in business for a majority of the companies that were surveyed. This suggests that more companies should buy into the usage of e-procurement technologies. This is a good way of improving the collection of information, contacting suppliers and conducting intelligence and analysis exercises (Quesada, González, Mueller & Mueller, 2010).
The support for e-commerce
E-commerce can be applied in both large firms or even in the Small and Medium Enterprises. SMEs can maximize the potential of their firms when they opt to use e-commerce. E-commerce can lead to the reduction in business coats for small businesses. These costs include the establishment of offices and other operational costs. It has ben established that the cost which will be incurred in establishing a single storefront is almost similar to the cost of setting up a fully functional e-commerce web for a small business. However, e-commerce has more benefits when compared to the storefront. E-commerce will help the business to reach more customers which is the aim of whichever kind of business. Once more customers are reached the business will be in a good position to attain more sales. The new customers will be more likely to demand for goods and services of the company once they are reached and learn of the products of the company. The firm becomes more open to opportunities for instance up-selling and cross-selling (Thanasankit, 2002).
The other aspect which makes e-commerce to be more relevant and important in business is convenience. Online services are always available and can be accessed by the online shoppers at any time. They can also be accessed from any place by the shoppers. Therefore business remains active throughout (Rob & Coronel, 2009).
Business to business procurement services yields about 5 trillion US dollars each year. This was as at 2000. This is the total figure globally. This has been growing with time. An estimation which was made by the Boston consulting group showed that US business conducted transactions worth 2 US trillions in business to business purchase. These transactions were done using the internet. They were transacted as at the end of the year 2003. Business to business transactions are increasing with the explosion of internet usage and the growth of e-commerce. While business to business transactions have a positive impact on the growth of business, a lot of focus has only been paid to the large firms that are conducting such transactions. Small firms also conduct such transactions but they end up being left out in the overall statistics (Mullane, Peters & Bullington, 2001).
Schlenker & Crocker (2003) have found out that there are real benefits of applying e-commerce in small businesses. The major problem that has prevented the application of e-commerce in small business firms resonates from the fact that the staffs of these firms have a notion that e-services are expensive. They are thus reluctant releasing resources which would help in applying such services in the firms. These services have to be supported by the senior staffs who are more are more aware of the benefits of reducing business costs by way of embracing e-commerce (Caskey & Subirana,2007).
Conclusion
Literature has revealed that e-commerce is a quite old phenomenon though its comprehensive or wide usage is a recent phenomenon. E-commerce gained prominence from the late 20th century when there was a revolution in the use of the internet and the worldwide web as a result of the revolution in information and communication technologies. E-commerce has gained roots in business especially so from the beginning of the 20th century. It has become one of the fashions of doing business. Many business firms have either adopted online services or are working on modalities of exporting their businesses to the web and the internet. E-commerce involves either the use of internet or the worldwide web services by organizations. There are different activities which are related to e-commerce. These include online shopping, online banking, e-selling and purchasing, online retailing, e-procurement, e-travelling, electronic payment of online services and online investment among others.
Business and other non-profit motive organizations are adopting e-commerce initiatives at a very high rate. This as argued by many researchers is a reflector of the benefits that accrue to e-commerce. The general notion is that e-commerce is turning out to be a very influential tool in enhancing business performance. Even the non-profit organizations are of the view that e-commerce will enhance service delivery in their activities therefore enhancing their performance which is rated basing on how efficient and effective they are in delivering services.
Literature reveals that there is a difference in the rate at which organizations are adopting e-commerce with big organizations being the major adaptors of e-commerce. Small and medium enterprises are buying into e-commerce at a very slow rate. This means that there are challenges of acquiring, implementing and enforcing e-commerce especially for SMEs. SMEs often have a low capital on which they operate. Adopting e-commerce needs quite a substantial capital which goes into the installation of internet. This is however just a fear as research has revealed that the cost of installing online services is affordable. Moreover, the benefits of adopting e-commerce will be far much more than the cost of installing e-commerce enablers. As it is now, more advanced countries are more favored in conducting e-commerce because of advanced technological, legal, organizational and developmental structures.
For organizations which are already using e-services, there are a lot of benefits being ripped. These includes improvement delivery of services to customers – supply chain efficiency, increased efficiency in procurement- e-procurement, increased number of customers – online marketing, improved service delivery in banks among many others. However, literature has also revealed that there are major barriers and challenges which come with e-commerce. An example is security risk resulting from cyber terrorism, technical problems and policy problems related to adopting e-commerce. However, when proper prior planning is done before adopting e-commerce both small and big organizations will make substantive gains.

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