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Xuan, W 2007, 'Factors affecting the achievement of success in e-tailing in China’s retail industry: a case study of the Shanghai Brilliance Group', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright W Xuan 2007


The rapid growth of the internet and e-commerce provide new opportunities for China’s retailers, and a new battle for China’s retail industry has begun. The purpose of this research is to explore the barriers and factors for achieving successful e-tailing in China’s retail industry. Some past studies have investigated the success of e-commerce in the western context. This study aims to partially fill the gap created by the lack of research into e-commerce in the Asian context, by investigating successful e-tailing in China’s retail industry, and is based on a case study of the Shanghai Brilliance Group. Therefore, the research question is ‘How can successful e-tailing in China’s retail industry be achieved?’ Accordingly, three research issues are addressed:

Research issue 1: How is e-tailing being used in the Shanghai Brilliance Group?

Research issue 2: What are the barriers to the implementation of e-tailing in the

Shanghai Brilliance Group?

Research issue 3: What are the factors for achieving successful e-tailing in the

Shanghai Brilliance Group?

To investigate the research question and the three research issues, the following approaches were applied. Firstly, three parent disciplines were reviewed, namely, ecommerce, retail in China, and e-tailing success factors, in order to generate the research gap and a theoretical model. A theoretical model was developed, which included six factors and their variables. These six factors are: senior management factors, organisational factors, e-commerce strategies, external factors, consumer factors, and ecommerce system measurements. Secondly, the primary data for this research were collected from interviews (16 in-depth interviews and 3 focus group interviews) and a survey questionnaire (200 valid questionnaires).

The findings for the first research issue showed that e-commerce is poorly implemented in the Shanghai Brilliance Group and its subsidiaries, but that e-commerce in the supermarket subsidiaries is more advanced than in the department stores. Only one department store is offering online shopping to their customers, while both supermarket subsidiaries offer online shopping. The rest of the department stores only use websites for advertising and promotion, or for limited customer service, such as award point checking. Moreover, only the Oriental Shopping Centre and Lian Hua Supermarket have specific teams or an out-sourced company controlling their e-commerce project. This shows that e-commerce is not being taken seriously in the Shanghai Brilliance Group to date.

In relation to the second research issue, a total of nineteen barriers were identified from the interview data. Those barriers can be divided into two categories, namely, external barriers and internal barriers. Most of those barriers are consistent with those mentioned in the literature. However, some new barriers emerged from the data analysis process, including the mission of the organisation, and high profit objectives.

The findings in relation to research issue 3 identified other important factors of e-tailing, besides those barriers answered in research issue 2. Most of the success factors reviewed in the literature were confirmed by the collected data and in addition, some new variables were explored.

Overall, six groups of factors and 64 variables were addressed in this research as success factors for e-tailing. This included 57 out of the 59 variables which were previously mentioned in the literature and seven emergent variables.

This research has made a contribution to both the theory and practice of e-tailing.

Through qualitative analysis, this research not only identifies the important factors of e-tailing, but also generates a comprehensive model to guide the implementation of e-tailing by China’s retailers, especially the Shanghai Brilliance Group. Furthermore, this is the first study to investigate successful e-tailing in China’s retail industry. Accordingly, the proposed framework of this study provides a foundation for future research.