Will B2C E-Commerce Developed in One Cultural Environment Be Suitable for Another Culture

Topics: Electronic commerce, Amazon.com, Culture Pages: 21 (6736 words) Published: November 7, 2012
Will B2C E-commerce Developed in One Cultural Environment be Suitable for Another Culture: A Cross-Cultural Study between amazon.co.uk (UK) and dangdang.com (China) Qi-Ying Su
Information Systems & Computer Applications, University of Portsmouth 1-8 Burnaby Road, Burnaby Terrace, Portsmouth, UK Tel: 0044-(0) 23 8284 6447

Carl Adams
Information Systems & Computer Applications, University of Portsmouth 1-8 Burnaby Road, Burnaby Terrace, Portsmouth, UK Tel: 0044-(0) 23 8284 6447

Joanna.Su@port.ac.uk ABSTRACT
In an era of seemingly e-everything e-commerce is changing the way people do business and impacting shopping habits. Increasingly this change has an international dimension in both trans-national transactions and exporting e-commerce business models from one culture to another. Typically this last element has involved exporting Western e-business models to the rest of the world. However, it is unclear if an e-commerce business model developed in one cultural environment would be suitable for another culture. This paper attempts to explore this question by investigating two cases: amazon.co.uk in the West (UK) and dangdang.com in the East (China). In addition, differences between countries may be due to deep embedded cultural aspects, differences in infrastructure and business environment or a mix of these. The study in this paper draws upon secondary data, primary interview data and survey data of user practices. Amazon.com is probably one of the most written about e-commerce cases and there is a much secondary data to support an investigation. Dangdang.com is less well know and covered in the literature (at least in the West) so face-to-face interview data is used to develop the case study. To understand user practices the study uses survey data, focusing on selected groups in Beijing (China) and Portsmouth (UK).To help investigate and analyze the two cases this paper draws upon Hofstede’s cultural works, particularly the individualism vs. collectivism cultural dimension. For the case studies, different cultural aspects and differences in the infrastructure and business environment are identified. Differences in user practices and the environment seems to indicate that e-commerce business models suitable for the West may not be totally suitable for the East.

“e-everything”. In the late 1990’s the start of the E-commerce era, a proliferations of dot.com companies emerged. Using Turban et.al’s (2004) definition of e-commerce as: “Ecommerce describes the process of buying, selling, or exchanging products, services, and information via computer networks, including the Internet.”(p.4). We saw a proliferation of new business, new business processes and new ways of doing business in buying and selling. This e-era of global interaction means that e-commerce business and technology developed in one cultural environment would increasingly be applied in other cultural environments. However, it is unclear how suitable e-commerce business and technology would translate across cultures. There are several different types of EC, such as “Business-to-business (B2B) refers to e-commerce are businesses or other organizations; Business-to-consumer (B2C) refers to the e-commerce model in which business sell to individual shoppers.” (Turban, 2004, p.7). This paper focuses on B2C e-commerce development in China and the UK, two markedly different cultural environments.

1.1 B2C E-commerce Development China compared with the West


In 1993, Professor Wang Ke from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences first explained the concept of e-commerce in China. At that time, some scholars and experts were worried that the development of e-commerce would affect traditional retailing and wholesale industries, eventually leading to higher unemployment rates (He, 2000). In April 1997, the first online bookstore-Xinhua bookstore was opened in Hangzhou, China. Unfortunately, the bookstore closed with no sales after...
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