E-commerce and the retail process: A review


Burt S & Sparks L (2003) E-commerce and the retail process: A review. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 10 (5), pp. 275-286.

Views abound on the impact of the Internet and e-commerce on traditional forms of retailing. Scenarios range from on the one hand, the almost total devastation of existing physical retailing to, on the other, limited if any impact upon "real" retailing. Despite excessive hype, spectacular failures and the myriad of conflicting views and crystal-ball gazing, e-commerce processes and procedures provide the potential for a fundamental reassessment of how retailing operates and how retailers behave. Without doubt, the existing ways of operating and the associated cost structures within retailing will be reassessed under the onslaught of new technology and new retail structures. This paper reviews the published evidence on the impact of e-commerce on the retail process. It reviews the situation rather than introducing new evidence. The focus is on the process as it supports B2C activity and how retail processes and procedures could be affected by e-commerce, rather than a pre-occupation with sales impact through traditional merchandise and product sector typologies. Three conclusions are drawn. First, the largest retailers are now pursuing Internet-enabled advantages and cost reductions in operations, which could translate to an enhanced competitive position in process, structure and relationship terms. Secondly, consumer reactions to the new real and virtual offers will be fundamental to their success and failure, but as yet consumer reactions are not fully understood. Thirdly, existing retail floorspace will need enhancement in quality and presentation if it is to continue to provide retail functions.

Internet; E-commerce; Retail; Processes; Review

Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services: Volume 10, Issue 5

Publication date30/09/2003