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Critical factors underpinning the e-CRM activities of SMEs

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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are vital components of our economies, but many struggle to perform the marketing prescribed theoretically for large organisations. In practice, marketing is performed in SMEs through an intrinsic customer orientation, which exhibits striking resemblances to customer relationship management (CRM) theory. This paper presents research evidence to help us understand the impact of Internet-based technologies (IBTs) on the CRM activities (that is e-CRM) of SMEs in Ireland. A quantitative approach (online survey questionnaire) was adopted and distributed to 1445 SMEs. Exploratory factor analysis uncovered eight distinct yet inter-related factors underpinning the practices and processes of e-CRM in SMEs. Briefly, findings illustrate that SMEs are performing e-CRM to varying extents, reaping a range of performance benefits and facing a range of challenges. It is true that SMEs are not adopting e-CRM per se, as described in the large organisation-biased literature, but they are adopting relatively simple IBTs to improve their customer communication and information management capabilities and thus to create competitive advantage in their own strategic way. The study adopts a strong managerial focus, where pertinent practical implications and recommendations around e-CRM are provided for SME owner-managers, helping to bridge the gap between theory and practice.
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Keywords: Internet; SME; electronic-customer relationship management; marketing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Southampton, UK 2: University of Ulster, UK

Publication date: 2011-05-01

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