An empirical study of Internet adoption among leading United Kingdom retailers
In 1995, few retailers considered the Internet important to the future of their businesses. By 2000 the prevailing wisdom suggests that it has become almost imperative to incorporate the Internet into a company's business activities. However, whilst some areas of the U.K. retail sector are successfully integrating the Internet into their businesses others remain unconnected. This work is a study of Internet adoption amongst UK retailers from 1995 to 2000. It explores the level of adoption in terms of the technical progression and extent of adoption, in terms of the range of features included in retail Web-sites. Additionally, the project explores the factors that are likely to influence the retailers' Internet adoption progress. A multi-method research strategy was used combining qualitative and quantitative methods: an on-line survey of retail Web activities followed by in-depth interviews and finally, a postal survey. The results of the on-line survey reveal that Internet adoption varies according to retailer size and product assortment. Some retailers' Web-sites include a range of informational, interactive or transactional features, while others have yet to be developed sufficiently to be available via the Web. The results of the Interviews and postal survey indicate that some retail organisations may be better positioned to take advantage of the Internet than others. Indeed, nine critical factors are found to have a significant influence upon the retailers' level of Internet adoption. In particular, operating in an appropriate market sector and having a positive view of the viability of the Internet, in-conjunction with the development of an appropriate Internet strategy, can strongly facilitate a retailer's adoption progress. From the, researcher's perspective, this study is important as it identifies many new variables and factors, and provides insights into how to devise a robust, multi-faceted methodology.