In the present E-Commerce (EC) era Knowledge Management (KM) is fundamental to a company’s success. Not only has the topic of KM attracted much research attention but the management of customer knowledge is becoming increasingly important. Nevertheless, little research has been carried out to see how KM is gained through EC and what a suitable framework is. Companies with EC operations have the advantage of acquiring more detailed information about their customers; for that reason they can gain valuable knowledge about their market. This paper will look at an analysis of how KM is employed in EC sites through analysing the interactions between the Business and Consumer, and between one consumer to another consumer. Hence customer knowledge management practices utilised by many e-commerce sites will be investigated. The findings of the analysis can be used as best practice by EC companies that are aspiring to complement their KM practices.
Presently, many organisations have become conscious of the fact that in order to have a competitive advantage, they primarily need to effectively manage and employ organisational knowledge that can be exchanged or transferred on the Internet or Intranet without physical contact Pan et al (2001) and Kocharekar (2002). In competitive environments such as EC, the way in which businesses learn from past performances and manage knowledge makes an impact on future decisions. In addition to web-based companies many traditional companies are also moving into the world of the Internet, but are not performing well due to inflexibility and the inability to manage their customer and business processes as stressed by Sugumaran (2002). The changes that are reshaping many businesses in the EC era requires for a new effective and efficient method of discovering, capturing and sharing knowledge. Regardless of the substantial increase in EC companies, not much research has been undertaken that investigates the KM techniques functioning in EC which was mentioned by Nah et al (2002). EC sites currently are slow to adopt KM practices and tools. Some web sites have implemented KM principles in their EC activities, but they have applied KM principles unconsciously and implicitly hence are not benefiting fully from KM research (Chen and Liou,2002). This brings about the question on how EC companies acquire, manage, make use of and distribute knowledge over the Internet. This research distinguishes KM mechanisms used by business-to-consumer (B2C) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) EC websites; furthermore suggestions to improve these mechanisms are discussed. Consequently, the purpose of this paper is to investigate how we can bring consumer KM principles and tools to enhance an EC environment.
This research draws from established theories from the areas of KM and EC. These areas are briefly described in the following sections.
KM is the explicit and systematic management of vital knowledge and its associated processes of creating, gathering, organising, diffusion, use and exploitation. It requires turning personal knowledge into corporate knowledge that can be widely shared throughout an organisation and appropriately applied as stressed by Johnson et al (2005, pg 133-136). Allard and Holsapple (2002) state that KM is getting the right information to the right processors, (whether computer or human) at the right time, and helping people create knowledge, share and act upon information in ways that will benefit the performance of the organisation. To achieve this, a systematic approach to identify and capture information and knowledge about a company’s processes is required (Johnson et al, 2005, pg 133).
E-Commerce is the buying and selling of goods and services on the internet, especially the World Wide Web (Johnson et al, 2005, pg 29-30). However, definitions of EC in...