Operations and Supply Chain Management
Date of this version
The development of the Internet as a business tool over the past 5 years has been phenomenal, causing a period of chaos and creative destruction. E-commerce has been hyped as a catalyst for vast streamlining of the supply chain. Yet, in a time of such phenomenal change, the focus tends to be on the large picture. Many details of how a new technology should be or is employed tend to be unknown or ignored. However, as the technology matures and stabilizes, one of the primary factors that separate winners from losers is the way in which the technology is implemented and operated on a daily basis.
This study examines the ways in which companies utilize the Internet to streamline their purchasing process. A survey of 416 customers of a major Internet retailer of commodity office supplies reveals important relationships between web site design, employee work environments, Internet strategy, and purchasing performance. Our sample of companies consists of firms that have ordered office supplies at least once using the Internet. Our data indicate that companies do realize performance benefits from utilizing the Internet as a purchasing tool. Furthermore, the data suggest factors that facilitate purchasing process improvements. These factors can be utilized by both buying and selling companies to improve their proprietary processes to maximize the benefits of e-commerce as a purchasing tool.
Production and Operations Management