The virtual bazaar

Strategies for e-Business: Creating Value Through Electronic and Mobile Commerce - E-Business. First edition - E-Retailing. First edition

February 25, 2005

It is good to see several new e-business texts; it suggests the longevity and the importance of the topic both for study and practice. Given the emergence of three new books on the subject, this raises the question of what the ideal e-business book should contain.

Regardless of the level taught, I think the right mix of features and content includes clear explanations of jargon and concepts using diagrams; examples, cases and activities to engage students; reference to the emerging academic literature applied to a range of organisations - not just companies that sell through a transactional e-commerce website, but also relationship-building sites for lead generation; and consumer-facing brand-building sites and portals such as online newspapers and portals such as Google, MSN and Yahoo.

Another issue to consider is the book's scope: does it focus on using digital technology to market the organisation? Does it include reference to supply chain management, e-procurement and applications for internal processes? Rather a tall order, so let us see how these texts compare.

Strategies for E-Business is positioned as appropriate for MBA and upper-level undergraduates and I would certainly agree. The striking feature of this text is the set of 28 detailed case studies to which more than three quarters of the book is devoted. Many of the studies, which are drawn mainly from Europe and the US, contain data specific to the organisation and provide answers to questions via a companion website.

Several cases are, however, based on interviews and data from 2001 and earlier, which is always a challenge with a non-virtual book. There is introductory content providing a context to the cases, but much of this coverage is cursory. Alternative strategies are covered well, but there is limited discussion of practical approaches to e-business implementation such as objective setting and change management issues with introducing new supply chain, e-procurement and customer relationship management applications.

E-Business adopts a different approach. This book is more appropriate for use by information systems students and could be used as a core text for such students at undergraduate level. It is firmly grounded in systems theory and e-business concepts rather than business practice; indeed, there are very few references to examples of the practical issues and strategic challenges involved with implementing e-commerce. While systems theory receives extensive coverage, topics such as e-business strategy and e-marketing receive surprisingly limited coverage.

However, it is good to see the inclusion of the full range of e-business applications including e-procurement and supply chain management. Learning features in each chapter include a short case study, summary, activities and reference. The book has a clear structure and would be efficient for student revision with its use of mind maps to relate topics. But there are no web links or detailed case studies. With very few examples mentioned in the text or discussions of the management challenges and opportunities of e-business, the book does not bring the topic to life.

E-Retailing narrows the scope compared with E-Business, and it is surprising to see a book on this relatively slender topic. That said, E-Retailing is a very accessible book that would work well for introducing undergraduates to some of the management (and specifically marketing-related) challenges of e-commerce.

The features are appealing, with boxes containing short cases and summaries and extensive references about the subject. Web links and companion website support appear limited. The authors have presented interesting, accessible and well-referenced content on buyer behaviour, integrating e-retailing into an organisation, branding and some practical challenges such as e-store design.

However, there are some key omissions: no chapters on e-retail strategy and objective setting and reference to web analytics, and no discussion of improving site efficiency through analysis of website metrics.

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

Strategies for e-Business: Creating Value Through Electronic and Mobile Commerce: Concepts and Cases. First edition

Author - Tawfik Jelassi and Albrecht Enders
Publisher - Prentice Hall
Pages - 632
Price - £39.99
ISBN - 0 3 68840 5

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