E-commerce is a set of technical and organizational forms of doing business transactions using electronic systems and the Internet as means of interaction with partners, banks, suppliers and consumers of goods and services of any kind. Usually, e-commerce systems include all stages of the transaction: finding the desired product or service, accurate details of the transaction, payment, and the receipt (delivery) of the order. Internet boom has swept almost all sectors - from the sale of consumer goods to heavy machinery and electronics (Manzoor, 2010). Thus, e-commerce becomes a significant part of almost any business nowadays. As a result, it is required for the companies to work constantly on finding the new methods and technologies for working in the worldwide web, as well as improving the existing ones. Therefore, the following research is dedicated to the analysis of e-commerce activity of Gold Peak Group, the large industrial company of the South-East Asia, as well as to the development of the set of recommendations aimed at its improvement in terms of strategy and technology.
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After the analysis of the provided case, it is possible to outline the following characteristics and problems of Gold Peak Group e-commerce department:
- E-business models of Gold Peak Group, such as AsianE2E.com, use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) standard in their work;
- Due to its size, industry, and position on the market, the company uses B2B (business to business) model;
- The most important issue for the enterprise, which is yet to be addressed, is the lack of the appropriate banking system in Hong Kong for receiving and conducting payments via the Internet;
- The company has implemented its own customized e-commerce system but currently suffers from the shortage of qualified IT-specialists required for its maintenance and further development.
Thus, it is clear that Gold Peak Group faces not so many challenges in the IT sphere, but all of them hinder it significantly. As a result, management of the enterprise views the development of IT and e-commerce only as one of the many means of acquiring competitive advantage, rather than an important strategic goal and does not have any specific plans for it.
Conclusions and Recommendations
In accordance with the results of the analysis, it is possible to provide the following recommendations for Gold Peak Group:
- Considering that the company strives to increase its share on the global market, it is recommended to pay more attention to the existing e-business models, as well as simultaneously develop and run a B2C model. In fact, only in the U.S., the revenue from e-commerce in the B2B sector has doubled, while annual revenue from B2C commerce has reached 559 billion dollars. Nowadays, end-users (B2B customers) often use B2C consumer websites besides their B2B versions when searching for the required product, thus doubling the chance for the purchase. In addition, B2B customers are increasingly using mobile devices to make purchases online (Qin, 2009). The emergence of the mobile channel becomes significant in B2B commerce, so Gold Peak Group should develop a strategy to provide its customers with an ability to make purchases online via mobile devices or tablets.
- In order to address the above mentioned problems (personnel shortage and insufficient banking), it is advisable to develop the new B2C model by using outsourcing. In this case, the holding company of the external e-business system (provider) can serve as host for maintenance and operation of complex issues on marketing or logistics according to the instructions of another firm (the customer), using his own equipment and manpower (Manzoor, 2010). Moreover, considering the international marketing strategy of Gold Peak Group, it is recommended to sign a contract with a foreign provider, which uses the banking system suitable for online transactions.
- In terms of the technology, it is possible to recommend transferring to Extensible Markup Language (XML) standard, which describes how to use and store data, and can provide communication between various business applications. It resembles the EDI technology currently used by the company, which enables mainframe share of the documents relevant to ANSI X12 and EDIFACT standards (Chakrabarti & Kardile, 2002). Moreover, it is possible to use Trade’ex Transport Protocol, which creates an encrypted communication channel in the form of virtual private network (VPN), based on Jsafe tools by RSA Data Security. Such a channel provides the exchange of XML-forms that perform the same functions as EDI. It is expected that the implementation of XML will simplify the work with documents within the enterprise. Another upside of this technology is that XML-based transactions can be transmitted over the encrypted VPN tunnels for half the price compared to EDI, by using a shared network (Manzoor, 2010). Considering that Gold Peak Group views e-commerce as a tool for getting an advantage on the market, a decrease in the amount of resources required for its maintenance, and, therefore, the reduction of total costs of the enterprise, will positively affect the company’s competitiveness.
In conclusion, it is possible to say that e-commerce has become an integral part of modern society. Considering the potential and the market value of online sales, B2B business will come to the fact that e-commerce will be a goldmine for the retention of customers and increasing their loyalty. Therefore, B2B players, such as Gold Peak Group, which do not pay much attention to it, are at risk of losing market share both in the short and medium terms, and long-term competitive advantage.