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The Impact of Strategy to Real Time Chat Process: A Qualitative Multi-Method Study in the E-commerce Context
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2016 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

While retail e-commerce keeps on clicking the examination of its strategic business and operations requirements for success emerges as crucial. In terms of achieving competitive advantage, no longer is it sustainable for e-retailers to solely focus on traditional dimensions of providing high quality and low cost for their target customers. As a substitute, they must adapt to the ever-changing competitive environment by endowing customers novel ways to interact with the website before, during and after the purchasing decision. One such way is real time chat, which is quickly becoming one of the most desired methods of contact between customers and websites. Although many e-retailers acknowledge the relevance of real time human-to-human contact, and the utilization of the real time chat in enriching the websites and consumers’ shopping experiences, the strategic and operational value that chat generates to the business itself it is still not explored by academic scholars.This forms the basis for our study.Purpose –This thesis aims to describe and explain the main business and operations strategies that determine the design of real time chat in B2C e-commerce companies. The paper used models and theories from strategic management namely strategic orientation, and strategic typologies. CSFs were derived from combining concepts from strategy, operations management, information systems and e-commerce disciplines while service delivery systems literature from service operations management literature. Design/methodology/approach–Using anabductive approach a cross-sectional study was conducted using a qualitative multi-methodology. The data was collected through semi-structured interviews with four B2C e-commerce firms from the Nordic and Western European regions. Further, the data collection was enriched through observation and document analysis using real time chat logs. The data was then analyzed using the theoretical frame of reference to provide a strong theoretical base for our findings.Findings–The study established links between strategy, operations and service delivery systems with respect to real time chat. Particularly the combination of orientation with the Miles & Snow model (1978) informed the various strategic options a firm has. Furthermore, when combined with the perspectives on operationsstrategy informed how real time chat can be used while also taking into consideration the resources, product category and industry of the firm. The derived e-commerce service operations strategy CSFs despite being unique for each of the studied firms showed three recurring factors that were common to them. These were service provision, customer acceptance/focus and flexibility. Synthesizing all perspectives helped in developing a model that provides an overview of B2C e-commerce firms can align strategy, operations and service delivery systems with respect to real time chat. Originality/value–The thesis contributes to adding knowledge to the under researched area of real time chat in B2C e-commerce settings. It also synthesizes disparate concepts of strategy, operations and service delivery systems and develops a guideline in helping firms using real time chat to improve their existing service process efficiencies. Concurrently the paper also serves as an evaluative tool for firms that are considering real time chat implementation to understand the various aspects that influence it and help them to better plan and design the service process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. , 137 p.
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-124384OAI: diva2:951298
Educational program
Master's Programme in Management
Available from: 2016-08-09 Created: 2016-08-08 Last updated: 2016-08-09Bibliographically approved

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