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Beliefs of small, independently owned rural retailers about internet use: a typology

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to develop a typology of small, rural retailers based on personal beliefs about business use of the internet and to identify similarities and differences between the retailer subgroups in attitude, perceptual performance, and behavioral intention to use the internet. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A mail survey is completed by owners of small, independently owned retailers in rural communities across the USA. Findings ‐ Cluster analysis reveals three types of retailers: optimists, efficiency minded, and skeptics. Differences in attitudes towards use of the internet and intention to use the internet for purposes of strategic positioning are found across the groups. Research limitations/implications ‐ The sample frame consists of small, independently owned retailers in rural communities, the response rate is low, and results will not generalize to small retailers in urban areas. Practical implications ‐ The stories of optimist retailers can show efficiency-minded retailers how to gain greater benefit from use of the internet. The skeptical retailers are not likely to adopt the internet even when important others, such as their customers, want them to. These retailers may need to be sold on what the internet can do for retail performance of their specific business. An individualistic approach would likely be the only salient appeal to these retailers, since they are not socially compliant or socially embedded. Originality/value ‐ This paper produces a typology of small, rural retailers and provides information on internet use of such retailers, both of which are new to the literature.

Keywords: Internet; Owner-managers; Retailers; Rural areas; Small enterprises; United States of America

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-01-01

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