How to catch your client in the net

Introduction to E-Commerce. First edition - E-Business - Marketing the e-Business. First edition - Relationship Marketing
February 28, 2003

There are now several weighty, detailed textbooks to help support specialist courses in e-commerce: Electronic Commerce: A Managerial Perspective , by Efraim Turban, Jae K. Lee, David King and Michael H. Chung, and Kenneth C. Laudon and Carol Guercio Traver's E-Commerce: Business, Technology and Society , for example. But are there more succinct texts available to support a single module or elective on e-business, e-marketing or e-CRM (customer relationship management)? This review considers four possible contenders.

E-Business: Principles and Practice purports to offer "an accessible overview of key concepts in e-business at an introductory level". While the writing style means that it is accessible, whether it covers all the key concepts is questionable. When considering e-business books for adoption, it is always worth checking the balance of content on sell-side e-commerce (using internet technologies for marketing and sales), buy-side e-commerce (using the internet for procurement and upstream supply chain management) and in-side (management of internal processes). This book concentrates almost exclusively on sell-side e-commerce. This means it may be suitable to support a module focusing on e-commerce and marketing, but is unsuitable for an e-business or e-commerce elective at masters level, which would need to consider the implications of electronic networks for supply-chain management.

The relevance of some chapters can also be questioned. For example, there are chapters on the online communities and protecting online communities but none on the core topics of e-marketing communications, relationship management or change management. The book is adequate in its learning features; it has some brief case studies and activities integrated into the text, plus a summary and assessment questions at the end of each chapter.

Marketing the e-Business has an intriguing title. It prompts the question: in today's world isn't marketing an e-business similar to marketing any business? So, is this a text about modern marketing approaches or specific e-marketing approaches? In fact, it is something of both, meaning that it could be used for modules on marketing in a technically oriented e-commerce degree or modules on e-marketing in a more business-oriented course. The chapter structure appears more suitable than that of E-Business for mapping on to individual lectures of a module. Chapters include marketing research, change management, strategy, branding, relationship marketing, multi-channel marketing, the marketing mix and marketing planning. The main omission is that there is no in-depth coverage of applying new e-marketing tools, such as search-engine optimisation, pay-per-click keyword advertising or affiliate networks. It has a similar mixture of learning features to the Rowley book, but most of the case studies are significantly longer. Longer cases such as these are essential for seminars.

Introduction to E-Commerce contrasts with the two books above, since it has a US rather than a UK provenance. This brings a striking full-colour design but, more significantly, a preponderance of US examples and cases (the latter being shorter than those of Marketing the e-Business ). While this might be sufficient for some lecturers to disregard this book, it is worth considering for the quality of its content. Unlike the two previous books, it covers buy-side, sell-side and in-side aspects of e-commerce. It also covers other topics in more detail, such as business-to-business exchanges, mobile commerce, e-government and details on the technology. Like the other books, it has limited coverage of online marketing communications. It is also weak in the areas of relationship marketing and change management.

Concepts are well explained through the text and diagrams. It also has a wider range of learning features, such as internet-based exercises and team assignments.

From its title, Relationship Marketing: Dialogue and Networks in the E-Commerce Era suggests that it could be considered alongside these other books for specialist e-commerce modules. It is, however, a specialist book on relationship marketing and does not consider other aspects of e-commerce. Compared with Marketing the e-Business , for example, it does not have similar depth of content on marketing research, change management, branding or marketing strategy and planning. It is also limited in its learning features compared with the other books: there are some mini-cases, but no activities or questions to support lecturers and students. What it does provide is an excellent review of research into relationship marketing and its impact on marketing concepts. As such, it would be most suitable for a specialist module on a marketing masters programme in customer relationship management. It would also be of interest to CRM practitioners.

There is limited coverage on approaches to implementing CRM or e-CRM systems. This is surprising in view of the e-business myth that 70 per cent of e-CRM implementations fail. A more critical approach examining the reasons for failure, and suggesting solutions, would be welcome for practitioners.

Recommending a single book from the four reviewed is not possible, since their emphasis is quite different. For advanced undergraduate modules or introductory postgraduate modules on e-business, Introduction to E-Commerce can be recommended since this has the most detailed coverage, clear explanations and diagrams and the widest range of learning features. The lecturer will have to work, though, to source his/her own European examples.

For modules on marketing programmes that focus on e-marketing, Marketing the e-Business can be recommended. This has a sound structure, clear content and a good range of learning features including detailed cases.

For introductory coverage of e-business, E-Business may be considered, with the caveat that it focuses on sell-sidee-commerce and has a less comprehensive coverage of core topics than Marketing the e-Business . Finally, Relationship Marketing is suitable for specialist relationship marketing courses at final-year undergraduate or postgraduate level.

Dave Chaffey is an e-marketing consultant who lectures on e-business masters courses at the universities of Birmingham, Derby, Leeds and Warwick.

Introduction to E-Commerce. First edition

Author - Efraim Turban and David King
ISBN - 0 13 009405 6
Publisher - Prentice Hall
Price - £28.99
Pages - 537

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