E-business strategy and application in supply chain management by New Zealand SME wholesalers

Yuen, Michelle Wun Cheng
Doolin, Bill
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

The aim of the research was to investigate the practice of e-business strategic planning and application amongst small to medium sized enterprises (SME) wholesalers for supply chain management (SCM). The extent to which e-business strategic planning and application are practiced and attitudes towards e-business technology use, were investigated. SMEs, companies with 19 or less employees, are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy and, therefore, collectively they are of major significance to the performance of the economy. Advancements in technology and the development of e-business capabilities can help businesses cut costs and increase efficiency. This study examined the context of SME wholesalers and wholesaler SMEs’ perspectives and attitudes towards the development of strategies and application of e-business to find useful theoretical and practical insights for SCM in New Zealand SMEs. A qualitative research approach was chosen for this study. The method of qualitative interviewing through the administration of semi-structured interviews was used to capture rich and in-depth data. The research sample was a total of ten SME wholesalers in the metropolitan Auckland area. A total of ten interviews were conducted with key personnel of each company, being either the owner-operator or manager. The research showed that nine of the ten SMEs interviewed, already use e-business technologies and have established e-business strategies for their businesses. Strategies and strategic planning are important aspects of a successful business and the majority of SME owners interviewed agreed to this. However, they seem to practice strategic planning in a less than formal approach or only develop strategies tentatively. Due to the nature of SMEs being informal organizations with linear organizational structure and being highly reactive to market situation, strategic and long term plans often need to change to adjust to emerging situations. Owner attitudes, backgrounds, expertise and motivation for business directly reflect the way they apply their management and leadership skills. The other major factor that influences the level of e-business strategic development and application of e-business strategies is the availability of resources. SMEs are known to be resource poor and constantly affected by challenges brought about by the lack of resources. The SMEs studied suggested that it is also a challenge for them to be able to prioritize and strategically use their available resources to sustain the business. Thus, those that are fast in applying e-business into their business operation, in this case the wholesaler supply chain, have achieved efficiency, productivity and cost savings that enable them to keep ahead of their competitors. Those that are slow or delay the process risk losing out on business and growth. The contributions of this research lie in the implications for wholesale SMEs in New Zealand from the useful insights of their peers in the industry; to the New Zealand government in development of initiatives and assistance for the important SME sector; and in expanding the theory on strategic development, SMEs, e-business and SCM as well as creating grounds for further research.

New Zealand SMEs , New Zealand wholesaler , Supply Chain Management (SCM) , e-business strategies , Strategic planning
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