Adoption of e-commerce by SMEs in the UK: Towards a stage model

Daniel, Elizabeth; Wilson, Hugh and Myers, Andrew (2002). Adoption of e-commerce by SMEs in the UK: Towards a stage model. International Small Business Journal, 20(3) pp. 253–270.



Research has shown that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are rapidly adopting the Internet and e-commerce. However, there is little systematic research into how such companies are adopting this new technology. This study addresses the research gap by seeking to understand how SMEs in the UK are adopting e-commerce, through an exploration of their level and sequence of adoption. The research, which was carried out by means of a mailed questionnaire, found four distinct clusters of adoption. These formed a set of sequential stages, through which firms appear to pass during the adoption of e-commerce. The firms in the first cluster are currently developing their first e-commerce services; the second adoption cluster are using e-mail to communicate with customers, suppliers and employees. Those at the third level of adoption have information-based websites operating and are developing on-line ordering facilities. The most advanced adopters have on-line ordering in operation and are developing on-line payment capabilities. The association of the adoption stage currently reached by a firm with contextual variables both at an industry and an organizational level is investigated and discussed.

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