An empirical framework developed for selecting B2B ebusiness models the case of Australian agribusiness firms

The internal and external factors affecting how Australian agribusiness organizations choose an e-business model are considered by Ng. He also explores how the organizations behave in their choice of e-business models for conducting business-to-business e-commerce.

The ten business-to-business e-business models are:

1 Online storefront, a supplier-centric model that: is usually operated by wholesalers and retailers over the internet; allows the provision of updated information on products and services; and has the ability to instigate immediate business transaction.

2 Manufacturer, another supplier-centric model that: permits manufacturers to reach buyers directly through the internet; involves a major supplier providing its products and services to potential buyers via the internet; but has the potential of creating conflicts in a manufacturer's supply chain.

3 Buy-side, a buyer-centric model that: involves a major buyer seeking products or services from potential suppliers via the internet; encourages potential suppliers to initiate business relationships by approaching the buyer; and enables buyers to reduce their costs by enabling them to view the list of products or services being offered to them.

4 Distribution portal, a supplier-centric model that: collates a few major suppliers who then sell their products or services as a group, to a set of potential buyers, via the internet; enables selling organizations to cut the cost of sales through more efficient order processing and tracking of order changes; and is attractive to buyers because it enables them to make several purchases from a group of suppliers that offer a range of related products or services.

5 E-speculator, a buyer-centric model that: enables organizations to gain real-time information that can be transferred into competitive advantage among a large group of buyers; and seeks to capitalize on a large quantity of market information, such as pricing.

6 Mega-exchange, a model that is neutral between supplier and buyer and that: acts as a central trading hub to facilitate transactions between buyers and suppliers; is usually run by third-party market makers, where it gathers buyers and suppliers to enable efficient trading between them.

7 Procurement portal, a buyer-centric model that: brings a few buyers together to purchase products or services as a group from a set of potential suppliers via the internet; and enables buying organizations to gain economic benefits such as bulk discount.

8 Sell-side asset exchange, a supplier-centric model that: enables trading, swapping and reselling of orders among a closed group of suppliers; requires strong relationships within the supplier community; and depends, for its success, on the ability to swap and resell orders efficiently within the group of suppliers.

9 Solution provider, a model that is neutral between supplier and buyer and that: is intended to embed unique and valuable services to the product sales;

enables organizations to leverage their distinctive expertise in specific areas; and provides the opportunity to capture niche markets that have regarded value-added services as being more important than price in the buying decision. 10 Specialist originator, a buyer-centric model that: seeks to standardize and automate the buyer decision-making process for more complex products; aggregates complex products and bundles them into larger order requests, then sends the transactions to the exchanges for execution; and requires organizations to have a good understanding of issues related to customer decision making and to be committed to providing real-time support for online customers.

Ng reveals that the internal influencing factors regarded as important by Australian agribusiness organizations in the selection of business-to-business e-business models are: the resources available; target market segment and market scope; nature of products or services; technological infrastructure and knowledge; understanding of e-business models; organizational structure and culture; and types of business strategy. The external influencing factors are: strategic partners' influence; type of industry; competitors' influence; and market trends. The research reveals that, in general, the internal factors appear to be more influential than the external factors.

Ng's research shows that, among Australian agribusinesses, the procurement portal, manufacturer, mega-exchange, online storefront and distribution portal models appear to be commonly used. In contrast, the e-spectator, solution supplier, buy-side, sell-side asset exchange and specialist originator models are less frequently used. The procurement portal model is the most commonly used in the agribusiness industry because current market trends indicate that buyers are making purchases as groups and are acknowledging the benefits (such as discount purchases) involved. The sell-side asset exchange and specialist originator models are the two least used, probably because of their complexity and perceived lack of sustainability to the agribusiness industry, which is in only the infant stage of adopting e-business.

Ng presents a selection process for business-to-business ebusiness models:

• Step 1: identify and understand the types of model available.

• Step 2: identify the factors influencing the choice of models.

• Step 3: determine the appropriateness, relevance and importance of the influencing factors.

• Step 4: select the business-to-business e-business model.

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