Journal of Business Industrial Marketing

commented that "It is a complicated process that requires extensive planning and understanding on the various steps involved". The results showed no significant variation in opinions by industry sector or by organisational size.

Agribusiness organisations (regardless of sector and size) usually begin the selection process with the identification of the types of e-business models available for conducting B2B e-commerce (step 1). In this step, organisations identify and acquire adequate understanding of the different types of e-business models available (such as features and characteristics) such that considerations could be made to align the organisation's goals and needs with the nature of these models (see Table II). Through this, organisations could ensure that they were aware of all the models available and how these models could possibly match their needs. This research identified and investigated ten relevant e-business models, while only seven of these models (see Table II) were subsequently identified by respondents as commonly used in the agribusiness industry. The remaining three models were not commonly adopted since they were complicated in nature and hence inappropriate for most of the agribusiness industry, which was relatively new to the e-business concept.

Upon aware of the e-business models available for conducting B2B e-commerce and their characteristics, agribusiness organisations would then make a decision to adopt a particular model by considering the impact of a range of internal and external factors (steps 2 and 3). During step 2 of the selection process, organisations identified a list of potential factors (both internal and external) that they would consider when evaluating suitable models. This stage was seen to be important as indicated by one respondent where he commented that "We can't simply choose a model without knowing what (factors) will affect our decision". With the list of influencing factors identified (step 2), organisations suggested that they would then seek to evaluate each of the factors and determine their relevance and importance (step 3). The findings revealed that organisations make their choice of model(s) after considering a combination of factors rather than just one single dominant factor and further that the level of importance of the influencing factors differs between organisations and situations.

In acknowledging this selection complexity, guidelines were developed (see Table II) to assist organisations to assess and determine the relevance and applicability of the influencing factors in relation to their choice of model(s) to be adopted. The factors in bold in first column (in Table II) with levels or options could potentially help organisations to better understand and match their needs and adopt the

Figure 2 The selection process of B2B e-business models

Figure 2 The selection process of B2B e-business models

Table II Guidelines on factors affecting the types of B2B e-business model

Online Manufacturer Buy-side Distribution Mega- Procurement Sell-side asset Solution Specialist storefront3 model3 model3 portal3 E-speculator3 exchange3 portal3 exchange provider originator

Factors/models

Resources required

High is

Medium is

Target market segment and market scope Diversified/global is is

Specific/niche market Nature of products or services

Commodity is IS

Real-time information services/

digitised is

Complex/specialised/value-added

Technological infrastructure and knowledge required

High

Medium is is

Level of selected e-business model understanding High

Medium W IS

Types of organisation

SME ts

Large enterprise is ts

Types of possible business strategy pursuing

Joint venture/cooperative arrangements

Concentric diversification is

Product/market development is

Focused differentiation

Corporate control is

Potential on- and off-line marketing strategy and objectives pursuing Increase bargaining power, cost reduction

Increase awareness, branding and image

Enhance customer/business relationship is is

Product/service customisation or differentiation

Channel disintermediation is

Possible market perception

Innovative

Modern/technological advance is

Market nicher

Market leader is is is is

IS IS

IS IS

IS IS

IS IS

IS IS

IS IS

IS IS IS

IS IS IS

IS IS

Note:a Models commonly used in the agribusiness industry Source: Analysis of field data and developed for this research

Eric Ng appropriate model. For example, the level (high, medium or low) of technological infrastructure and knowledge required would impact an organisation's choice of e-business model since some models (such as the e-speculator model) were more complicated and require a higher level of technological knowledge than other models (such as the mega-exchange model).

The complexity of the selection process is evident in the response where one respondent stated "I don't think the choice will be affected by one factor, usually we have to consider a combination of factors. We also have to prioritise according to their level of importance". Thus, the findings of this research suggested that it is essential to incorporate the consideration of this combination of factors and for each organisation to determine the relevance and significance of these influencing factors in the guidelines (see Table II) for their selection of B2B e-business models. In acknowledging this, agribusiness organisations can then take appropriate actions (such as resources allocation and business strategy to be adopted) according to the influencing factors and determine the suitability of the e-business model to be adopted. For example, an organisation with limited resources might choose to adopt the mega-exchange model since this model is usually operated by a third party, which greatly reduces establishment and maintenance costs incurred by the organisation. On the other hand, an organisation pursuing a defensive strategy (such as a joint venture) might attempt to adopt the sell-side asset exchange model as this model enables organisations to work in a form of partnership that allows them to swap orders among themselves.

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