, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 1-23
Date: 29 Aug 2006

Focus of B-to-B e-commerce initiatives and related benefits in manufacturing small- and medium-sized enterprises

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Empirical research into business-to-business e-commerce issues involving manufacturing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is still embryonic. In an attempt to partially fill this gap, this paper presents empirical data from an electronic survey conducted among 96 manufacturing SMEs to investigate e-commerce initiatives and their related benefits. E-commerce initiatives are assessed using a set of 36 business processes that can be conducted electronically. These processes were classified according to their focus: customer (downstream), supplier (upstream) or in-house. The research findings point to four main profiles of manufacturing SMEs with different e-commerce focuses. The first group seems to lack any focus or may still be exploring e-commerce opportunities. The second and third groups are supplier- and customer-focused, respectively. The fourth group consists of the more involved SMEs that have leveraged their e-commerce initiatives with both their customers and their suppliers. Results also suggest the existence of a close alignment between e-commerce focus and related benefits.

An earlier and much shorter version of this paper was published in the Proceedings of the 37th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-37). Helpful comments from two anonymous reviewers were greatly appreciated. The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from SSHRC, FCAR and NSERC.