E-commerce: Bridging Gap to E-commerce Format and the Advantages and Disadvantages of Integration

1. Introduction

This discussion and analysis covers the demands for converting to e-commerce within an organization, with emphasis on specific cases.

The first part of this discussion covers the actions demanded to bridge gaps between traditional business format and modernized e-business format. The case in consideration is a shoe store. The second portion of this discussion covers the advantages and disadvantages of integration.

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2. Bridging the Gap to E-commerce Format

Naturally, planning to transform any area of business requires careful planning and the careful application of strategy (Krueger and DeGiglio, 2000).

E-commerce has been an increasingly common method of operation in many businesses, while both the changes in consumer demand and the use of e-commerce by competition pressure many companies to make this transfer (Andam, 2003).

Considering the case of a shoe store, the shop will need to formally analyze its current state within the company, while listing the primary differences between the existing state and the desired state.

The store can use gap analysis while considering the three main elements or levels of the e-business model. There are multiple ways to view the architecture; the business needs to examine itself in terms of enterprise, functionality, and operation (and thereby in terms of maintaining consistency between activities, reinforcing the activities, and optimizing efforts) (Anzam, 2003; Plave and Westermeier, 2004).

The business must understand the differences in resources used, employees needed, time involved, and funds required for all of these areas. It must then develop both a system which is capable of maintaining the new operations, ensure the implementation and maintenance of this system is within the current capabilities, and then strategic techniques must be applied for successful integration.

Integration must be considerate of funds, employees, resources, time, and consumers, and this leads to advantages and disadvantages. Staffing requirements and architecture should be based on the funding available, equipment required for operation, time constraints, and sales goals; meanwhile, the key aspects of reinforcing activities and optimizing processes should be considered.

3. Advantages and Disadvantages of Integration

The advantages and disadvantages of integration are fundamental in nature, although more specific occurrences may result within these larger categories; naturally, the main advantages of integration are the upgrades and benefits which occur following completion (Phan, 2003). These can range from improved profitability, efficiency, and organization to other areas.

Meanwhile, integration may give rise to disadvantages such as investments which reduce available resources and funds, disruption and disorganization, difficultly in recording business elements, and potentially disturbing normal customer options of behavior.

In the case of the shoe shop, the business manager may find the company in a temporary state of chaos which is challenged in any attempts to maintain formal procedures; without careful strategic planning, integration may be even more challenging than implied in the initial gap analysis (Singh, 2001).

However, if care is taken for planning, resources, time, monetary budgeting, and phases of implementation (including the reinforcement of activities and optimizing processes), the shoe store manager may experience minimal inconvenience while experiencing the advantages more quickly.

As the advantages are long-term, and care is taken in both the gap analysis and implementation strategies, the advantages should outweigh the disadvantages (Sawney and Zabin, 2001).

As described in the given case, small companies are at a disadvantage to larger companies when governments participate in regional trade blocs. There are many things that governments can do to minimize this unbalance (should they desire), due to the nature of governmental authority.

The government could place limits (quotas) on the larger companies, possibly according to some sort of designed sliding scale in attempt to maximize balance. The government could also provide subsidies or other financial assistance to the smaller companies.

These are the two main approaches to creating a balance: assisting the smaller companies, limiting the larger companies, or a combination. The specific developments through legislation and quantities would rely on the situations and actions taken.

4. Closing Remarks

E-commerce has been an increasingly common method of operation in many businesses, while both the changes in consumer demand and the use of e-commerce by competition pressure many companies to make this transfer. E-commerce is an evolving trend effecting more and more businesses, and companies that successfully apply gap analysis and strategic implementation stand to improve their business.

References

Andam, Z. (2003). E-commerce and e-business. Manilla, Phillipines: E-ASEAN Task Force.

Krueger, J. and DeGiglio, M. (2000). IBM Host Integration Solution Products: Extending AS/400 Applications for e-business. Cheshire, CT: D.H. Andrews Group.

Phan, D. (2003). E-business development for competitive advantages: a case study. Information & Management, 40, 581-590.

Plave, L. and Westermeier, J. (2004). E-Business: The E-Business Legal Survival Kit. Washington, D.C.: Piper Rudnick, LLC.

Sawney, M. and Zabin, J. (2001). The seven steps to nirvana: strategic insights into e-business transformation. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Singh, A. (2001). A Rainbow Technology for a Rainbow People: E-Business Capacity Development for the CARICOM. London, UK: Commonwealth Fund for Technical Operation.

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