With the process of economic globalization and information technology development, electronic commerce as a new business model has an effect on people’s lives more and more. The emergence of electronic commerce changes the previous business model, not only expanding the marketing channels for enterprises and reducing the operation cost of enterprise; more important is the mode of electronic business affairs to strengthen the coordination between the upstream and downstream enterprises in the supply chain, and promote cooperation between enterprises [1
].Compared with the traditional business model, e-commerce has the strength as streamline distribution, lower cost, no time restriction and other advantages, at the same time, electronic commerce also has the advantages of less investment, easy to learn, flexible operation, etc
]. These characteristics fully meet the development model of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); therefore, SMEs can improve their business performance effectively by using electronic commerce. According to the “China SME e-commerce development report”, the data show that the income has increased significantly in the SMEs that engage in e-commerce. Commerce development of small and medium-sized enterprises operating income has increased significantly, the growth of the business income in SMEs that engage in e-commerce is nearly 1.35 times that of similar enterprises that do not engage in e-commerce.
However, there still exist many problems in the process of e-commerce development among the majority of SMEs in China [4
]. First of all, some small and medium-sized enterprises are not fully aware of the importance of e-commerce on enterprise development, whether to development the e-commerce is still in wait-and-see stage [5
].Secondly, most enterprises lack a standard and method to evaluate the performance of e-commerce, which means that these enterprises cannot make a reasonable analysis of electronic commerce development [6
]. At the same time, small and medium-sized enterprises tend to ignore the process of enterprise information construction, personnel training and management innovation in the development of electronic commerce [7
]. Most SMEs just rely on the disposable website construction by the Network Company, and do not make real use of e-commerce business processes for enterprise informatization. In addition, they do not strengthen the collaboration in the supply chain of this informatization process, so it is difficult to enhance the enterprise operation efficiency through the electronic commerce [9
According to the above problem in the process of developing electronic commerce, this paper tries to analyze e-commerce application in SMEs and find out the main factors affecting the performance of enterprise electronic commerce.
Since the 1980s, many scholars began to study e-commerce on marketing activities of small and medium-sized enterprises. Most scholars believe that with the development of Internet technology, the performance of e-commerce applications in small and medium-sized enterprises has a significant promotion effect; in addition, some scholars also found some problems in the implementation of e-commerce enterprises, and put forward the path and strategy of enterprises to optimize the mode of electronic commerce [12
]. Kim [14
] researched the impact of information technology on firm productivity, and confirmed the technology really can offer benefits. Michael and Victor [15
] explored the impact of information technology on the competitive environment, and how to use internet technology to improve the competitive advantage of enterprises. They pointed out that the formation of information technology to promote the competitive advantage of the specific way mainly includes three aspects: first, the development of information technology has changed the industrial structure; second, the implementation and application of Internet technology to support the enterprise low cost and differentiation strategy; third, it promote the enterprises to develop new business, and bring more business opportunities for the enterprise. David and Lorna [16
] analyzed more than 40 SMEs from Canada, China, Japan and Mexico which develop the electronic commerce in the international market. The result shows that electronic commerce can reduce product and service cost in a unique way, and combine the information and capital at the same time, then enhance enterprise competitive advantage. Henrique and Luis [17
] pointed out that Internet technology has made great contributions to society. At the same time, it also completely changed the traditional ways of marketing and business. In the fierce global competition environment, small and medium-sized enterprises also have to face the open competition environment—commerce is an effective way to cultivate the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises, while small and medium enterprises also need to meet the new demand from customer and business partners. Kim [18
] researched the internationalization of electronic commerce, and find out that the internet can shorten the social and cultural distance. Seung [19
] pointed out the business value that e-commerce provides depends on the use of the business network. The basic mode of e-commerce refers to the enterprise to use the electronic network only for carrying out simple data exchange activities. In contrast, cooperation mode of e-commerce can build channel cooperation between enterprises. Therefore, the improvement of e-commerce performance is not from the e-commerce technology itself, but from inter-enterprise cooperation.
Zhuang and Albert [20
] studied the influence of human resources, business resources and technology resources on the performance of enterprises by using the resource management theory. The results proved that electronic commerce technology resources have a significant impact on enterprise performance. However, the technology investment should match the scale of the enterprise; an excessive technology investment will not have a significant effect on the performance of enterprises. Katia and Ayman [21
] discuss the impact of electronic commerce on SMES from the diversity business perspective. In the broadband economy, small and medium-sized enterprises interact and communicate with the customer through the network platform. A good electronic commerce platform and application technology is the key to the implementation of e-commerce in small and medium sized enterprises. However, enterprises often ignore maintenance of the website and related technology, because of funding and scale limits. Therefore, the enterprise need to continuously improve the technology and IT services, in order to meet the needs of customers and partners. Numerous studies have demonstrated that technology is an effective way to improve e-commerce performance, so that, information technology is the most important factor to e-commerce application, and will have positive effects one-commerce performance.
There are also some researches about how to improve the operation efficiency through the electronic commerce information system, such as Ramanathana [22
]; Ashworth [23
] and Yao, [24
]. Delone [25
] studied how enterprise resources will impact e-business performance; the results proved that e-commerce technology resources can have a significant impact on firm performance. However, the technology resources must match the scale of the enterprises. Therefore, the impact of enterprise size to e-commerce performance is uncertain. At the same time, many Chinese scholars made research about the impact of electronic commerce application on enterprise performance. Shao and Cai [26
] made empirical research on e-commerce performance of listings of corporations in China; results show that e-commerce application has a positive effect on income increase. It is undeniable that the development of e-commerce will increase the operating costs of enterprises, but, because of the increase of operation efficiency is more obvious, the enterprise obtains in the revenue exceeded the cost. Wu and Yang [27
] investigate the pathway between electronic commerce application and firm performance; results showed that the application of e-commerce can help enterprises to improve the coordination ability. To evaluate the performance of e-commerce, Zhang and Deng [28
] pointed out that as a new business model under the background of informatization, the electronic commerce puts forward the new challenge to the enterprise management, so that the enterprise should constructing new evaluation index for electric business. Fei [29
] divided the e-commerce performance into four parts by using AHP method, namely the business section, customer section, financial section and enterprise development section. Through empirical analysis, results show that the main index is still the profitability, at the same time, “customer satisfaction”, “growth rate” and “information processing” is also the important factor to evaluate the business performance.
To sum up, most scholars agree that the electronic commerce will have positive impact on enterprise performance, and made sufficient research about how the electronic commerce influence the business performance. However, scholars have not carried out the related research about a comprehensive evaluation for different indicators of electronic commerce, such as how to implement e-commerce successfully, how to achieve the desired effect, etc. Which factors hinder the performance of electronic commerce, and what aspect of enterprises should be improved? In view of this, this paper attempts to construct an e-commerce evaluation index as “Organizational factors”, “Technical factors” and “Environmental factors”, then makes a comprehensive evaluation of e-commerce performance in SMEs.
4. The Defects of E-Commerce Application in SMEs
Through the above analysis, we can understand the development of e-commerce in small and medium sized enterprises in Beijing City. The data shows that the application level of electronic commerce is gradually strengthening, and more and more small and medium-sized enterprises begin to realize that electronic commerce can result in new development opportunities. The development of e-commerce has had a huge impact on the economy and society, which break the sales limited in time and space, and play an important role in the construction of information system, logistics, capital flow and information flow. It shows that the development of e-commerce can promote the innovation of business model. However, we can also find some problems and defects in the process of developing electronic commerce in small and medium-sized enterprises, and it will affect the enterprises’ development if these problems cannot be effectively solved in the future. These problems include lack of talent in technology, lack of understanding of business e-commerce, and not enough assessment for market positioning.
4.1. Lack of E-Commerce Talent in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
In recent years, the development of small and medium-sized enterprises is rapid, and it has gradually become an important part in the national economic system. As small and medium-sized enterprises pay more and more attention to the diversification of marketing, many small and medium-sized enterprises begin to establish e-commerce platform to develop sales business. Because of the low salary of employees, it will be difficult for small and medium-sized enterprises to attract the talents who have innovative and technological skills, and these problems may hinder the development of online business of small and medium-sized enterprises. Enterprises of electronic commerce need a large number of professionals in personnel management and e-commerce business, and also need to train more talents in software work. There are also some technical staff have low management capabilities, and they cannot do a good job in marketing and distribution work. These problems have become the key restricting factors in development of e-commerce.
4.2. Lack of Reasonable Planning and Understanding of E-Commerce
Although the application of e-commerce plays an important role in the development of SMEs, the technology has not been widely accepted by enterprises. Because network construction and talent training are required to pay a certain cost, some enterprises hesitate to develop e-commerce. According to relevant data, small and medium-sized enterprises in Beijing city have more than 70% to develop network marketing, but the numbers of SMEs which fully establish e-commerce system are less than 20%currently. Strengthening the application of the electronic commerce needs further improvement in SMEs. Many small and medium-sized enterprises gradually realize the important role of e-commerce, but how to develop e-commerce business is not clear. Some small and medium-sized enterprises want to achieve online sales through independent construction of the network platform, but they just pay attention to the design of Webpage and have unreasonable marketing strategy, and some enterprises have not realized the unification of Internet marketing and logistics distribution. In addition, once the traditional business pattern is formed, it will be very difficult for SMEs to adapt to electronic commerce business very quickly. Above all, it is difficult for SMEsto achieve good sales in the early development of e-commerce business.
4.3. Positioning of Target Market is Not Clear
Small and medium enterprises choosing the target market is to choose the customer groups. In the process of market positioning, the difference of product and service will attract customers and retain customers. There is a big difference between electronic business and traditional business in operation mode; small and medium-sized enterprises are often unable to choose the goal market reasonably at first, which leads to the failure of network marketing. Therefore, SMEs need to do a series of researches, and analyze the needs of network users in order to find a good market position.
To sum up, although the SMEs in Beijing have nearly 70% of the enterprises that have e-commerce business, we must realize that the majority of small and medium-sized enterprises have these problems in the process of developing e-commerce. First of all, some small and medium-sized enterprises are not fully aware of the importance of e-commerce; secondly, most enterprises lack related evaluation systems of e-commerce performance, which hinder these enterprises to make reasonable analysis for the electronic commerce situation and its influence. At the same time, small and medium-sized enterprises tend to ignore the development of information construction, personnel training and management innovation. In the process of developing electronic business, it is difficult to improve the efficiency if enterprises just rely on the investment of website construction, and neglect the collaboration in the supply chain.
In conclusions, the result shows that: First, IT Investment is the most important factor to achieve success, the competitive advantage can be achieved largely depends on whether enterprises will effectively use the network technology. Second, the expansion of the enterprise size can promote transaction volume increase of SMEs in the short term. Third, internet availability has a positive effect on the trade volume of e-commerce, but the intensity is not obvious, and the effect is relatively stable.
In the process of empirical analysis, we take the SMEs in Beijing city as the research object, then explore how e-commerce influences the sales growth at the short- and long-term. Through analysis of e-business performance, we further explore the causality and influence degree. At the same time, we discussed the relationship between electronic commerce and enterprise performance on the basis of empirical analysis, analyzed the impact of unfavorable factors to e-commerce performance. On this basis, we put forward related suggestions from the enterprise level, the policy level and the social environment level, in order to promote the application of e-commerce for small and medium-sized enterprises.
First, SMEs should improve the software and hardware facilities of e-commerce. Because in SMEs there exists the problem of shortage of funds, they should make the budget and select the equipment with high technological content and strong applicability. In the aspect of hardware purchase, SMEs should also pay attention to the after sale service as repair is a huge expenditure. In addition, the soft input to increase e-commerce business is also very important. With the rapid development of information technology today, the upgrading of technology is very fast; a little carelessness will lead to consumer dissatisfaction. Therefore, managers of small and medium enterprises need to pay attention to personnel training, and to improving the soft power of enterprises.
Second, enterprises should train more talents in electronic business management. Small and medium-sized enterprise development electronic commerce business needs not only the technical development personnel, also need to the person who has e-business management skills. Then, they can promote the establishment and improvement of the marketing system of the electronic commerce industry. However, e-business managers in small and medium-sized enterprises are lacking. Therefore, the enterprise human resources management department needs to develop a reasonable plan of staff recruitment and improve the employee salary level, focusing on exploring management talents, in order to lay a foundation for long-term development of small and medium enterprises.
Third, government departments need to actively cooperate with the e-commerce activities of small and medium-sized enterprises, and provide technical guidance. The electronic commerce not only provides many opportunities for the enterprise, at the same time, it improves the interactive trading between enterprises, suppliers and consumers, and has created new opportunities for small and medium enterprises. However, the small and medium-sized enterprise has a natural disadvantage in scale and capital, so the government should support the development of e-commerce business in SMEs, assigned a number of staff to solve problems in the network construction and online service. Government should actively create good financing and investment environment, provide some preferential policies and small and help medium-sized enterprises to set up a special fund.
Finally, the government should strengthen the social credit system. The establishment of the credit certification system is the necessary condition in e-commerce. Some small and medium-sized enterprises made a series of e-commerce business innovation activities, such as new website construction, product innovation, etc. However, due to the establishment of China’s certification system is still have some drawbacks, fake and inferior commodities still exist on the network platform. This counterfeit behavior not only disrupted the market order, but also has serious negative impact to the development of small and medium-sized enterprises.