Adoption of e-Commerce in micro tourism firms located in Umeå
A new and an effective Internet business model such as electronic commerce (e-Commerce) has obtained great importance in the tourism industry (Li & Suomi, 2008). e-Commerce has great importance also for small firms. Despite this, the majority of literature concerning tourism and e-Commerce does not tend to discuss the adoption of e-Commerce within small and medium sized firms (SMEs), whereas most studies have focused on the information that can be found on broader aspects of the Internet and ICT (Abou-Shouk, Lim & Megicks, 2013). The same is applicable for the smallest type of SMEs namely micro firms. In general, as Sandberg & Håkansson (2014) noted little research has been done concerning e-Commerce adoption in micro firms and they are mainly using quantitative research methods. Besides, in the tourism industry the study of e-Commerce adoption by small businesses are considered as an emergent area where limited research has been conducted yet (Thomas, Shaw, & Page, 2011). Similarly, very little research has been done regarding geographical aspects of e-Commerce. Usually, e-Commerce and its impact on firms and people have been investigated by disciplines outside of geography (Boschma & Weltevreden, 2005). Thus, from a scientific perspective e-Commerce adoption (including spatial aspects) in micro tourism firms remains under-researched. It is unclear to what extent micro tourism firms adopt e-Commerce and what is spatial impact of e-Commerce adoption and if there are any barriers that inhibit that adoption.
The aim of this study is to investigate adoption of e-Commerce in micro tourism firms located in Umeå, Sweden, especially, to describe levels of e-Commerce adoption in micro tourism firms and to analyze the barriers that inhibit e-Commerce adoption within them. The choice of the place can be justified by the fact that Sweden is ranked relatively high in firms’ ICT usage, thus, it is interesting to investigate e-Commerce adoption in micro firms. Moreover, there are many micro firms in Umeå which can become relevant subjects for this study. In order to find out the level of e-Commerce adoption it was applied one of the widely used e-Commerce adoption stage models. In terms of barriers of e-Commerce adoption after discussion of the main literature in relation to barriers, the emphasis was on the literature discussing barriers in Swedish SMEs. The study was qualitative research and was conducted using semi-structured interview approach to conduct interviews in 10 micro tourism firms specializing in accommodation provision. All participating firms in this study were somehow e-Commerce adopters. The data was analyzed using thematic analysis.
The conclusion of this study is that most of the micro tourism firms in Umeå are still developing e-Commerce and are at the lower level of e-Commerce adoption, except from two firms which are at the advanced levels of adoption. All participating firms use e-Commerce to lesser extent to penetrate to distant, international market. Instead, the micro tourism firms in this study use e-Commerce mostly for serving local, Swedish market. The main barriers that inhibit e-Commerce adoption within these micro tourism firms that are identified in this study are a firm small size, a lack of pressure from customers, a lack of “local” support, a lack of managers'/owners' own e-Commerce experience, a lack of knowledge and concerns in relation to the difficulties to meet growing customers' demand.
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