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The Role of E-Commerce in the Supply Chain Process Among Merchants. An Evaluation

Bachelor Thesis 2016 65 Pages

Business economics - Supply, Production, Logistics

Excerpt

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Dedication

List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Acronyms

Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION
1.0. Research Overview
1.1. Background
1.2. Problem Statement
1.3. Research Questions
1.4. Research Objectives
1.4.1. General Objective
1.4.2. Specific Objectives
1.5. Significance of the study
1.6. Structure of the Paper
1.7. Chapter Summary

Chapter 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.0. Introduction to
2.1. Definitions to
2.2. E-Procurement
2.2.1. Pre-Award Phase
2.2.2. Post-Award Phase
2.3. Electronic Commerce
2.3.1. Business to Business (B2B)
2.3.2. Business to Consumer (B2C)
2.3.3. Consumer to Business (C2B)
2.3.4. Consumer to Consumer (C2C)
2.3.5. Mobile Commerce
2.4. Benefits of e-commerce
2.5. Drawbacks of e-commerce
2.6. Factors affecting e-commerce
2.7. Differences between e-commerce and physical trade
2.7.1. Physical Trade
2.7.2. E-commerce
2.8. Conceptual Framework
2.8.1. Independent Variables
2.8.2. Dependent Variables
2.8.3. Moderating Variables
2.8.4. Chapter Summary

Chapter 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.0. Introduction
3.1. Research Approach
3.2. Research Design
3.4. Population
3.4.1.Sample Size
3.4.2. Sampling Technique
3.5. Data Collection
3.5.1. Primary Data
3.5.2. Secondary Data
3.6. Data Processing
3.6.1. Data Analysis and Interpretation
3.6.2. Research Ethics
3.6.3. Limitations of the study
3.7. Chapter Summary

Chapter 4: SURVEY FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS
4.0. Introduction
4.1. Findings from Primary data
4.1.1. The gender of the respondents
4.1.2. Age of the respondents
4.1.3. Education level of the respondents
4.1.4. Respondent’s working department
4.1.5. Respondent’s Working Position
4.1.5.1. Research Objective 1: How e-commerce has improved the speed of delivery of goods at Mpangananji General Merchants
4.1.5.2. Research Objective 2: Advantages of deploying e-commerce in conducting business on a daily basis at Mpangananji General Merchants
4.1.5.3. Challenges faced through the use of e-commerce at Mpangananji General Merchants
4.1.5.4. Possible solutions to the problems that are encountered in using e-commerce ..
4.2. Research Objective 3: To identify the challenges that have been encountered throughout the use of e-commerce in business at Mpangananji General Merchants
4.2.1. The need for integrating e-commerce in the supply chain
4.2.2. Moving a technologically driven supply chain
4.3. Chapter Summary

Chapter 5: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.0. Introduction
5.1. Conclusions
5.1.1. Challenges facing the use of e-commerce at Mpangananji General Merchants
5.1.1.1. Fonnal Trainings and refresher courses
5.1.1.2. Cooperation and Effective Communication
5.1.1.3. Internal Procurement Committee delays
5.1.1.4. Misappropriation of procurement guidelines
5.1.1.5. Poor strategic and collaborative partnerships
5.2. Possible and Sustainable solutions to the problems facing the supply chain process at Mpangananji General Merchants
5.2.1. Strong Strategic Partnerships
5.2.2. Proper follow up of Procurement guidelines
5.2.3. Speedy Processing
5.2.4. Provision of fonnal trainings and refresher courses
5.2.5. Perfectioning of the communication process
5.3. Recommendations
5.4. Practical Contributions
5.1.3.2. Academic Contributions
5.2. Future Research Needs
5.3. Chapter Summary

References

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I initiated the Supply Chain Management program with specific goals in mind and it has been a very fantastic brief moment comparing to the expertise that the course has contributed to the improvement in my career as a Procurement and Marketing profession, and also as an entrepreneur at the same time.

The journey to complete this course owes several credits to different levels of authority. I owe special thanks to the Almighty God in heaven for the gift of life, wisdom and intelligence in all areas of supremacy. It has all taken God’s grace to complete this research as it required intensive knowledge and wisdom. I also owe the staff of Exploits University for their hard work and encouragement respectively. May I also acknowledge the supervision of my lecturer, Mr Nelson Nagogoda, for your tireless efforts in the whole supervision process.

In a very special way I would like to thank my family, especially my parents. Thank you for your financial support, guidance, and motivation throughout my upbringing as your son into what I am today; may God richly remember you at all times. To my brothers and dear sister Noel and Williams and Eunice Makileni respectively, thank you for your love and support.

DEDICATION

I dedicate this book to my family and friends that have always seen me through the thin and thick, for no man is an island without waters surrounding him. It has therefore been because of all your efforts that I wish to dedicate this book to you as a way of appreciating your lives.

A special dedication be to my dad, Christopher Makileni for all your counsel and encouragement throughout my entire study period.

ABSTRACT

It has been so far the aim of this research, to investigate, bring out and present the role that e-commerce has in the supply chain system among merchants, especially at Mpangananji General Merchants. The objectives of this research were was to illustrate the beneficial traits that e-commerce has played in improving the Supply Chain, especially at Mpangananji General Merchants, to identify how e-commerce has helped improve the speed of delivery of goods, to identify the advantages that have been realized as a result of deploying e-commerce in conducting business on a daily basis and to identify the challenges that have been encountered throughout the use of e-commerce in business among merchants, especially at Mpangananji General Merchants.

The researcher used a deductive approach in conducting this research in order to easily identify the factors that have led e-commerce to have a greater toward the supply chain process; the researcher also used descriptive qualitative survey research designs in order to easily interpret and answer any questions related to the purpose of the research. In collecting infonnation, the researcher used semi-structured questionnaires and both closed and open questions. In a general overview, the researcher targeted a population of 100 people, including the working personnel of the company, and a sample size of 80% of the whole population was preferred representing a total of 80 respondents. There are two sampling methods that were used in conducting this research, thus, probability sampling technique and non-probability sampling technique; the data was analyzed using Microsoft Excel. The results from the research have been clearly presented and illustrated using tables, graphs and cross tabulations. The study found out that most organizations have not fully yet dedicated their style of doing business using the modern methods of technology. This has also been one of the major limitations to this study. However, business organizations that have applied the system of using e-Commerce are yielding much more benefits than organizations that are still using the old methods for transaction in their businesses. Therefore, this study has been dedicated to outlining the positive impacts that e-Commerce has had on most businesses and why most entrepreneurs should engage it in their day-to-day transactions so as to achieve an effective supply chain; the more effective the supply chain is, the more revenue to be achieved.

This study has great contributions that the organizations will need to apply to improve their way of doing business by providing the advantages and challenges encountered when using e-commerce. However, during the time of research, there were several challenges that were encountered by the researcher, and one of them was that most organizations were not providing of fonnal training and refresher courses for the employees on how to effectively use e-commerce in the supply chain process. In addition to that, it was also observed that in most organization there was lack of cooperation and effective communication between the corporate level and operations level of which is also a key factor is leading to delayed production resulting in longer lead times.

The research has put forward the several recommendations of which if put forward, companies will experience a tremendous increase in the business environment. In the first place, the organizations should ensure that they develop a strong team of leaders and team members who have acquired vast knowledge on how to use e-commerce in conducting business transactions on daily basis. In addition to that, there is also a need for the organization to put in place mechanisms that will provide simplicity in communication with the online customers; this will help the organizations update their customers easily on any relevant developments.

List of Figures

Figure 2.1. Model of a Typical Supply Chain Process

Figure 2.2. Conceptual Framework

Figure 4.1. Table Results showing the gender of the respondents

Figure 4.2. Table showing the age of the respondents

Figure 4.3. Table showing the education level of the respondents

Figure 4.4. Chart showing the working department of each respondent

Figure 4.5. Table showing the working position of each respondent

Figure 4.6. Graph showing results on how e-commerce has improved the delivery of goods

Figure 4.7. Chart showing results before and after using e-commerce

Figure 4.8: Table showing results on the need to train employees on the use of e-commerce

List of Tables

Table 3.1. Estimated Budget

Table 4.0. The gender of the respondents

Table 4.1. Age of the respondents

Table 4.2. Education level of respondents

Table 4.3. Respondents working department

Table 4.4. Respondents working position

Table 4.5. Research Objective 1

Table 4.6. Research Objective 2

Table 4.7. Results from the interviews on the need to train employees on using e-commerce

List of Abbreviations and Acronyms

Abbildung in dieser eseprobe nicht enthalten

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

1.0. Research Overview

This study falls in the area of Supply Chain Management, especially in e-Procurement. Its aim was at investigating the role of e-commerce in the supply chain process. Specific bias was made mostly on the private sector because the supply chain covers a wider section of which a larger percentage belongs to the entrepreneurship environment.

A Supply Chain, according to Lu (2001), is described as a group of independent organizations connected together through the products and services that they separately and, or jointly add value in order to deliver them to an end consumer. It is being devoted to the use of the available internet facilities in conducting business operations, where the owner is also involved in the process of developing a company and making sure all the required resources are mobilized, invested rightly and outcomes are proven profits which is referred to as e-commerce. A supply chain is the integration of activities taking place among a network of facilities that procure raw materials, transform them into intennediate goods and then final products, and deliver products to customers through a distribution system (Wisner 2005). Electronic Commerce is the interaction between communication systems, data management systems and security, which because of them exchange commercial infonnation in relation to the sale products or services (Ahangari 2013). E­commerce therefore refers to economic activities that occur online; it includes all types of business activities, such as retail shopping, banking, investing and rentals (Murthy 2013).

An entrepreneurship company has to understand the process of deploying e-commerce in its daily transactions. When a Supply Chain system has been expanded with the involvement of electronic technology, it is referred to as electronic Supply Chain Management (e-SCM). In the first place e-SCM involves the creation process, and this involves Web Designing and the incorporation of e-banking services in your business. The process of e-Supply Chain requires the sacrificing of the necessary times and efforts. Only those going through entrepreneurial process appreciate the significant amount of time and effort it takes to create something new and make it operational. The third part involves the reward of being an electro-driven organization and the most important rewards is independence, followed by customer satisfaction. The last part is where the organization has to decide even in the face of uncertainty over the outcome of an action. We can say entrepreneurial organizations respond to, and create, change through their entrepreneurial actions, and in this case, entrepreneurial actions refer to behavior in response to a judgmental decision under uncertainty about a possible opportunity for profit (Hisrich 2009).

The Supply Chain, for a long time, was being related or said to be of minimal value in the business sector, and yet that was where more money was realized because of the different processes that are encountered. Before we go any further, we have to understand that the Supply Chain process involves all the processes that are encountered from the time a particular need arises in an organization until that need is satisfied. During this process, the consumers have to communicate with their suppliers about their needs, and in the past when technology was not deployed heavily in the business sector, especially at Mpangananji General Merchants, it was taking so long for the company to communicate with its suppliers especially when importing goods. The recognition of this problem led to the company realize that they were caught up in a fix of accommodating longer lead times, which was a very sensitive development to the frustration of customers. This development led to the deploying of technology almost in each and every business endeavor, which saw most business transactions growing and improving other areas as well within the company through the intensive use of electronic commerce in the daily transactions.

1.1. Background

Mpangananji General Merchants is a private limited company that was fonned in the year 2005, registered under the Malawi business Act. For almost seven years, it operated as a sole proprietor business under the name of Mpangananji Investments, until it became a frill limited company in the year 2012. The vision of the company is transfonn agriculture into a necessity and not a privilege. This is seen as a stepping stone for the realization of industrialization in the country. Its mission is to improve livelihoods in our nation through the adoption and application of various modem skills of agriculture. The company is driven by its major core values which are Commitment and Professionalism, Ethical Trade Conduct, Fairness, hard work and Corporate Social Responsibility, Diversity and Corporate Growth. The company specializes in various intensive agricultural operations. For a long time, it was a little bit difficult for the company to acquire some of the materials needed for its daily operations since they could not be locally sourced. This development led to the company improvise on the agenda of importing locally-unavailable products.

During the early years of its operation as a company, it was a little bit difficult to access the products on time since they had not yet improvised the use of electronic commerce in their daily transactions, and this was leading to excessive lead times in the whole procurement process. Of lately, Mpangananji General Merchants and other private sector businesses adopted the use of electronic technology in their Supply Chains so as to quicken and ease the whole process of buying and selling goods, products and services online between the suppliers and their customers.

This idea of deploying electronic commerce saw itself being adopted for use with an aim of improving the Supply Chain Process, starting from the Procurement sector to the Logistics sector. This idea of enhancing modern technology in the daily transactions proved to be futile and has positively affected the improvement of the Supply Chain Process in the whole company.

Many organizations now appreciate the value and the importance of what e-Commerce is playing in changing the marketing system from a narrower base to an expository environment that has so far helped many other entrepreneurs conduct their businesses more systematically and more profitably. Though this being true and so many innovations and developments being implemented each and every day to ensure that there is an efficient Supply Chain, we also found it so hard to deny the fact that e-commerce has contributed a lot to the improvement of the Supply Chain process at Mpangananji General Merchants.

Before we start analyzing how e-commerce has contributed to the development of the Supply Chain at the company, we need to have a deeper and concrete understanding of what we mean by the tenns e-Commerce and Supply Chain so that we can easily relate to what is being discussed. It has therefore taken a much more systematic emphasis and approach to illustrate more on the impacts of e-Commerce on the Supply Chain process in the business environment of Mpangananji General Merchants, illustrating its benefits in a clear manner that is easily understood.

It was therefore the aim of this research to illustrate more on the positive relationship that exists between e-commerce to the improvement of the Supply Chain process at Mpangananji General Merchants.

1.2. Problem Statement

Some years back, many merchants faced a lot of challenges especially when e-commerce was not being used by most entrepreneurs, and transactions in businesses faced challenges both in the private as well as in the public sector. It was until the organizations had to switch on to the use of technology in conducting their businesses so as to match up with the daily-growing demand, in order to survive in the business sector. The intensive demand for various goods and services on the market by different customers created a lot of pressure among the various suppliers to meet the needs of their customers.

This research therefore aimed at discovering ways on how the use of e-commerce had improved business between Mpangananji General Merchants and its customers through its involvement in different areas.

1.3. Research Questions

1.3.1. How has e-commerce improved the speed of delivery of goods at Mpangananji General Merchants?

1.3.2. What have been the advantages of deploying e-commerce at Mpangananji General Merchants?

1.3.3. What have been the challenges faced throughout the use of e-commerce at Mpangananji General Merchants?

1.4. Research Objectives

1.4.1. General Objective

In the study, the main objective was to illustrate the beneficial traits that e-commerce has played in improving the Supply Chain at Mpangananji General Merchants.

1.4.2. Specific Objectives 1.4.2 л. То identify how e-commerce has helped improve the speed of delivery of goods at Mpangananji General Merchants.

1.4.2.2. To identify the advantages that have been realized as a result of deploying e­commerce in conducting business on a daily basis at Mpangananji General Merchants.
1.4.2.3. To identify the challenges that have been encountered throughout the use of e­commerce in business at Mpangananji General Merchants.

1.5. Significance of the study

This study was directed at evaluating the role of e-commerce in the supply chain process among merchants. As such, its findings and recommendations are vital in addressing organizations’ efficient and effective supply chain management practices. If organizations can learn from the outcome of this study, they shall be able to improve the way their supply chain systems are structured through the adoption of modem e-commerce practices which will also help them gain a competitive advantage over their rivals in the business sector. Furthermore, the findings of the study shall help all supply chain partners understand how their businesses can benefit through the use of e-commerce in the supply chain, making it a successful process. On the other hand, this study is also vital in helping the organizations understand how they can expand their business horizons through the intensive use of technology in conducting their daily transactions.

The study also has contributions to the field of entrepreneurship. The study commends the adoption of modem ways of doing business on both local and international scenes in such a way as to meet customer needs on time; as such, the study has contributions to the field of entrepreneurship that shall enhance social economic status and both the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Gross National Product (GNP). Finally, few studies have been done in the Sub-Saharan region regarding to the role of e-commerce in the supply chain process among merchants. This study shall add to the body of knowledge in supply chain management, and shall be useful to supply chain scholars and corporate specialists in different areas.

1.6. Structure of the Paper

Chapter 1 - Introduction

This chapter introduces the main issue behind the study. The chapter gives a brief background of Mpangananji General Merchants and the role that e-commerce is playing in its supply chain system. The Chapter also looks at the actual problems that Mpangananji General Merchants is facing in regard to the involvement of e-commerce in its supply chain system. The chapter contains the research questions as well as the research objectives. Furthermore, this chapter highlights the significance and why this study had to be conducted.

Chapter 2 - Literature Review

This chapter has discussed what others have said and/or written about the role of e­commerce and its concept, challenges and impacts. The chapter acknowledges the efforts and works done by other authors with regard to the concept of using e-commerce in the supply chain process, its challenges and impacts. The chapter also provides and discusses the conceptual framework of the study.

Chapter 3 - Methodology

This chapter has outlined the methodology used in conducting this study. It clarifies the research approach for the study and the research design. The chapter also outlines the instruments used in the study and data collection instruments such as Microsoft Excel. The chapter contains the research population, the sample population of respondents and sampling techniques used in the study research such as probability sampling and non­probability sampling techniques.

Chapter 4 - Survey Findings and Discussion

This chapter outlines the findings of the study and explains the analysis of the data collected from various respondents to come up with conclusions of the findings. The chapter contains the tabulated and graphical presentation of the results of the study.

Chapter 5 - Conclusions and Recommendations

This is the final chapter. It contains the conclusions and recommendations made by the researcher after analysis and interpretation of the research findings.

1.6. Chapter Summary

Chapter 1 outlined the brief background of Mpangananji General Merchants. The chapter introduces how e-commerce has affected the supply chain process in the business environment. The Chapter also contains the research questions that have to be answered in this study. In this chapter, objectives of the study are clearly outlined and the significance of this research is clearly explained.

CHAPTER 2 ะ LITERATURE REVIEW

2.0. Chapter Introduction

This chapter presents the literature review. In this chapter, insights by experts that have written on topics related to the research questions are outlined and reviewed. In order to understand the role of e-commerce on supply chain perfonnance, it is vital to primarily apprehend the concept of e-coimnerce, its challenges and effects. Hence, this chapter focuses on a review of the literature on the concept of using e-commerce in business, its advantages and its drawbacks. The chapter presents theoretical views which are used as background infonnation for the study. The arguments are presented to emphasize and improve understanding of the importance of using e-commerce in the supply chain process.

2.1. Definitions

A Supply Chain is a group of independent organizations connected together through the products and services that they separately and, or jointly add value in order to deliver them to an end consumer (Lu 2001). Supply Chain Management (SCM) is the systematic, strategic coordination of the traditional business functions and the tactics across these business functions within a particular company and across businesses within the supply chain, for the purposes of improving the long-tenn performance of the individual companies and the supply chain as a whole (Lambert 2008). A Supply Chain (SC) is the series of the activities and organization that material or supplies move through on their journey from initial supplier to final customer or can be defined as a system of the organization, people, activities infonnation and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer (Lysons & Fanington 2006).

Sustainable Supply Chain (SSC) is a strategic and transparent integration of finns pursuing social, environmental and economic goals in the systematic coordination of key inter-organizational business processes for improving the long-tenn economic perfonnance (Tunisi et al 2012). A Supply Chain (SC) comprises of all entities involved either directly or indirectly in order to fulfill stakeholders expectations. It includes not only the manufacturers and the suppliers, but also transporters, warehouses, retailers and even customers themselves (Sunil Chopra et al 2007). Green Supply Chain (GSC) is a process of integrating environmental considerations into supply chain management, including product design, research and selection of raw materials, production processes the delivery of the final product to the consumer, and product management at the end of its useful life (Turrisi et al 2012). Closed-Loop Supply Chain (CLSC) is the design, control and operation of a system to maximize value creation over the entire life cycle of a product with dynamic recovery of value from different types and volumes of returns over time (Kumar and Kumar 2013). A Supply Chain encompasses the companies and the business activities needed to design, make, deliver, and use a product or service. Businesses depend on their supply chains to provide them with what they need to survive and thrive (Michael Hugos 2003).

However, a Supply Chain is an integrated process that covers so many areas that are involved from the manufacturing stage until the product reaches the final consumer, and also includes functions like communication, production, logistics and storage of the products, product marketing and other promotion activities; the table below shows a model of a typical supply chain system.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 2.1: A model illustrating a typical Supply Chain Process

Source: wc Benton Jr (2014)

To have a clear illustration of an efficient Supply Chain, issues that have to do with e- procurement (e-P), e-business (e-B), e-Supply Chain Management (e-SCM) among others, have also been tackled under the same topic.

2.2. E-Procurement

is a process of using the internet to operate the transactional aspects of requisitioning, authorizing ordering, receiving and payment processes for the required service or products (Lysons and Farrington 2012). E-Procurement refers to the use of electronic communications and transaction processing by government institutions and other public sector organizations when buying supplies and services or tendering public works (Peris et al 2013). This definition of e-Procurement does not take a far look from what the concept of e-Commerce is all about. To some extent, there is a certain level of differentiation, to be explained later on. The e-Procurement process is sub-divided into two major categories, namely the Pre-Award phase and the Post-Award phase.

2.2.1. The pre-award phase is composed of all the e-Procurement process phases that occur before the award of the contract, and these include e-Notification, e-Access, e- Submission, and e-Evaluation, e-Awarding.

2.2.2. The post-award phase is composed of all the e-Procurement process phases occurring after the award of the contract, and these include e-Ordering, e-Invoicing and e- Payment (Peris et al 2013).

2.3. Electronic Commerce is the interaction between communication systems, data management systems and security, which because of them exchange commercial infonnation in relation to the sale products or services (Ahangari 2013). According to Zwass (2015), Electronic Commerce is the sharing of business infonnation, maintaining business relationships and conducting business transactions by means of telecommunication networks. In other words, e-Commerce is a modem process of applying different fonns of technology in conducting our day-to-day business transactions.

To illustrate more on what e-Commerce is, the system is composed of several elements which are inclusive of and these are Electronic Data Sharing, Electronic organized procedures for conducting trade and Electronic feedback from all parties involved in the Supply Chain System. As globalization is moving at a faster pulse, the introduction of technology in the business environment has a greater impact on the international economic landscape.

Electronic Commerce or e-Commerce, refers to the economic activities that occur online; it includes all types of business activities, such as retail shopping, banking, investing and rentals (Murthy 2013).

In the Supply Chain process, e-Coininerce is sub-divided into four major categories and these are Business to Business (B2B), Business to Consumer (B2C), Consumer to Consumer (C2C), Mobile Commerce (M-Commerce).

2.3.1. Business to Business (B2B) is a business transaction in which it involves a company dealing with another fellow company. Most of the e-Commerce systems nowadays are of this nature. It includes the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) transactions described earlier and electronic market transactions between organizations. For instance, Mpangananji General Merchants and other agro-dealing companies order agricultural products like fertilizers from other foreign companies, and since the transaction occurs between two parties, it is known as a B2B method.

2.3.2. Business to Consumer (B2C) this is a business transaction that happens between a business and an individual. A very good example is a retail shop business, whereby individuals come in to buy goods from a company not an individual.

2.3.3. Consumer-to-Business (C2B) is the transfer of services, goods or infonnation from persons to business or it is a business model where end users create products and services that are used by business and institutions (Ahangari 2013).

2.3.4. Consumer to Consumer (C2C) is a transaction that occurs at an individual level, and it does not involve any company procedures; it is casual in nature between two individuals.

2.3.5. Mobile Commerce (M-Commerce) is the buying and selling of products, infonnation and services via wireless handheld devices such as mobile phones, laptops and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). These wireless devices interact with computer networks that have the ability to conduct online merchandise purchases. Mobile Commerce allows users access to internet and shopping in it without needing to find a place to plug in. Mobile Commerce transactions continue to improve and the phrase includes the purchase and sale of a wide range of products and services, online banking, bill payment, infonnation delivery and so on (Ahangari 2013).

2.4. Benefits of E-Commerce

According to Lu (2001), purchasing function has a very indispensable role to play in the supply chain management process; it is therefore to maintain the core root of the business to keep the whole system operational on a daily basis. Electronic Commerce has far much more benefits that it has contributed to the business sector, especially the Supply Chain process in a number of ways.

In the first place, e-commerce has increased the possibility of improving the trade at Mpangananji General Merchants by improvising the growth of the company to compete with the large companies in the supply chain process. Over the past years, many companies have adopted the use of electronic banking procedures so as to ease and quicken the whole transaction process. Frankly saying, this has contributed a lot to most upcoming Small- Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to gain a competitive advantage towards their industry threats, which are both the already established Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) and other established business parastatals. This has led to the growth and improvement of the entrepreneurship environment through the creation of competition among the industry players.

Through this competition, the quality of the products offered on the market has also improved in such a way that each supplier is trying their level best to offer best quality products and services than their competitors in order to gain a higher market share. Even small businesses that provide personal services, such as hair and nail salons, have benefited from e-commerce by providing a website for the sale of related health and beauty products that normally are available only to their local customer. This development is good as it sees to it that the consumers get the right quality of products that they deserve (Murthy et al 2013).

According to a report published by the World Trade Organization (WTO), another advantage that has been provided by e-commerce is that it has created room for better and quicker customer service. In some cases, customers have direct access to their own personal accounts online and thereby avoiding calling companies on the phone (WTO 2013).

Electronic Commerce has expanded the marketplace to national and international markets. With minimal capital outlay, a company can easily and quickly locate more customers, the best suppliers, and the most suitable business partners worldwide. Fanners in developing countries are increasingly utilizing mobile technology to increase their commercial potential. According to a World Bank study released in 2012, the benefits for fanners who use mobile phones includes access to agricultural infonnation concerning stock piles and prices, data visibility for value chain efficiency and being able to tap into new and existing markets (WTO 2013).

E-Commerce has also helped create a permanent contact with customers on a 24/7 operating basis. An effective communication system in the supply chain is very much essential so as to get the latest infonnation available in order to simplify the purchasing process. Mobile money services in developing countries are gaining in prominence mainly due to their effective way of conducting payments and providing access to finances, particularly in areas where access to physical bank branches or even Auto Teller Machines is minimal. They are helping to increase productivity and efficiency while at the same time reducing transaction costs (WTO 2013). This has been made possible by allowing customers to pay for goods online rather than going directly to the company's offices. For example, with the coming in of Airtel Money and TNM Mpamba service facilities, users are now able to buy airtime, pay their water and electricity bills on mobile phones regardless of where they are. In addition to that, they are also able to transfer funds from their account and pay for their expenses instantly.

Electronic Commerce has also helped decrease the cost of creating, processing, distributing, storing, and retrieving paper-based infonnation. For example, by introducing an electronic procurement system, Mpangananji General Merchants has been able to cut the purchasing administrative costs by as much as 85 percent. The labor of paperwork in their business transactions has been reduced, a development that has seen the organization saving extra costs spent on paperwork. In addition to that, e-commerce has rather helped the organization improve faster through the involvement of a pull-type supply chain management system. In a pull-type system the process starts from customer orders and uses just-in-time manufacturing; this is one of the efficient strategies used as it also helps to cut off storage costs by simply manufacturing the exact quantity of goods that are on demand at that particular moment. The pull-type processing enables expensive customization of products and services, which provides competitive advantage to its implementers.

E-Commerce has also created a platfonn whereby different customers are now able to access infonnation for different products of the company without any restrictions. This has been improved especially with the creation of the company’S website and other online pages where the filli infonnation is offered to the customers concerning what they are having in stock and any relevant updates necessary for their customers. Everyone can easily compare its fees among the various websites easily; we can usually earn discounts on fees when compared with nonnal shop fees (Ahangari 2013). Electronic commerce has also help reduce the time between the investment of capital in a business and the time the revenues are realized. This is made possible by the fact that the use of e-commerce in business minimizes the lead time.

Finally, e-commerce has provided an access to the ordering of products even to rural areas which are otherwise not available to them for preview. To simplify it all, the customers are able to sample out the products via the company website where the products are marketed.

2.5. Drawbacks of E-Commerce

Flowever, it was observed over time that there are several drawbacks that have also been pinpointed, that pose a bit of challenges to the whole process. It was observed over time that there is an outlook of intimacy or familiarity among the products of Mpangananji General Merchants and those of its competitors. This poses as a threat to the company in such a way that it might be difficult for them to differentiate themselves from their competitors. This is very unusual to the growth strategies in the business environment as they maybe be uncomfortably accoimnodated. In addition to that, it is also easier for consumers to make an error in selecting a strange brand that seems to be a bit familiar to their favorite brand, hence this might affect the customers’ loyalty in the business environment.

The absence of human contact or physical interaction between the customers and the supplier is also one of the setbacks of using e-commerce in the business sector. Physical interaction helps to improve the relationship that exists between the customers and the suppliers, and it is easier for them to explore new business opportunities together outside the current business box, as once explained that Closeness builds up a stronger affection in unity.

Another drawback of e-Commerce is that the customers might pay for goods to a company that does not even exist, especially when the business is being conducted on an international platfonn. This is a big challenge as it might be difficult to follow up and recover the money, and in a process of doing so, more resources are also wasted. That is the reason why most companies have simply come locally to open their branches right here so that customers should easily access them with speed and confidence. This has also seen other companies, apart from Mpangananji General Merchants, coming locally to venture and provide easy accessibility of their products. For example, some Japanese companies that have opened their branches locally are Befoward and AutoCom Japan; this development has made it almost easy for consumers to purchase via these branches thereby avoiding most fraudsters. In addition to that, there is also lack of inspection of the goods at the time of payment so as to verify whether they are the ones that they ordered or not. This is very common especially when purchasing merchandises in bulk and from overseas. Internet access is still more a bit costly, especially to the rural masses making it very difficult for rural people to use it so as to quicken the trade process between them and Mpangananji General Merchants.

2.6. Factors Affecting E-Commerce

There are several factors that were noted as threats to the development of the e-commerce in the business environment.

In the first place, the lack of knowledge and appropriate infonnation for use of electronic commerce and internet network acts as a big hindrance as it limits some business persons for fear of making unusual mistakes that can delay the whole business process. It has also been observed over time that there is a lack of proper legal infrastructures in e-commerce that make the consumer rights to be at stake. For example, at some particular points in time there seems to be a low consideration of security on electronic funds transfer in conducting certain transactions which is also one of the factors that might delay the whole business process.

Finally, lower network speed and limitations on the use of Internet is also one of the contributing factors that have and continue to affect the effective application of e­commerce in the daily business transactions. This factor has also at most of the times affected the security and the confidentiality of the infonnation exchanged between the parties involved.

2.7. Differences between E-Commerce and Physical Trade

2.7.1. Physical Trade

In physical trade, there is a heavy dependency of physical exchange of infonnation between the customers and the suppliers. In other words, verbal communication is a dominating principle, and this reduces or eliminates the use of any electronic means for communication. Manual intervention is required for each transaction conducted especially when conducting calculations. This process is often prone to making mistakes easily unlike the automated calculations.

It is also very difficult to maintain fixed business cultural practices among the different trading parties, as they have their own preferences and standards of doing business with their fellow counterparts since business communication depends on individual skills and due to such factors, there is no uniform platfonn for infonnation sharing as a business community at large.

2.7.2. E-Commerce

Firstly, information sharing is made easy via electronic communication channels, making little dependency on man-to-man communication strategies. Due to the frequent use of technology, standard methods of communication can easily be established in e-commerce since the users easily interact with each other frequently hence it's easy for them to know each other better since closeness builds a stronger business relationship.

There is no human interaction in e-commerce as all the infonnation sharing is done via mobile networks through the use of electronic gadgets throughout the whole transaction process.

Finally, e-commerce provides users a platfonn where infonnation is readily available in one place, and this is possible with the development of websites where the suppliers simply place all their infonnation in one place, and this platfonn is effective to support business activities happening across the globe within a short frequency of time.

2.8. Conceptual Framework

Independent Variable Moderating Variable Dependent Variable

Source: Author (2015)

2.8.1. Independent Variables

An independent variable is a variable that causes changes to a dependent variable or variables (Saunders et al 2009). In this case, Electronic Commerce is an Independent Variable that is affecting the performance of the Supply Chain process.

2.8.2. Dependent Variables

A Dependent Variable is a variable that changes in response to changes in other variables (Saunders et al 2009). In this case, the effectiveness of the Supply Chain process is a dependent variable since it is being detennined by the response of how the independent variables are reacting toward it.

2.8.3. Moderating Variables

Moderating variables are third variables that change the nature of a relationship between the original independent and dependent variables (Zikinund et al, 2003.). Management support, and supply chain partners are moderating variables because they change the relationship between independent and dependent variables. For example lack of management support for electronic trade makes the use of e-commerce ineffective hence causing a decline in the supply chain perfonnance.

In this case, the moderating variable are the network service providers. When the services of the mobile service providers, thus Airtel, TNM, Skyband and other network providers are not efficient, the effectiveness of the Supply Chain is affected negatively but when their services are perfect, the effectiveness of the Supply Chain system is improved.

2.8.4. Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the researcher discussed some works done by other writers and researchers on the concept of using e-commerce in the supply chain management process, and efforts and works of some writers have been reviewed. Studies from other scholars have shown that the use of e-commerce in the supply chain system has greater benefits for the good of an organization, and apart from that, the costs and drawbacks that go with it have also been tackled.. Moreover, the application of e-commerce in the supply chain system of a business has a positive impact on the financial position of an organization as well as its corporate and competitive position. The next chapter is research methodology.

CHAPTER 3 ะ RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

3.0. Introduction

This chapter outlines the methodology used in the study. It contains the various strategies that were used to collect data during the research. These concepts were used to obtain the relevant data and interpret it to reflect the research question. These strategies include the research strategy, sampling, target population, data collection methods, strengths and limitations of the research, ethical considerations, data analysis, and validity and reliability. The joint approach of the above strategies ensured that the data be collected and analyzed effectively with reference to the topic in question.

3.1. Research Approach

The researcher however adopted the deductive approach because the study aimed at identifying the factors that have led e-Commerce to have a greater contribution towards the supply chain process in the business sector, especially at Mpangananji General Merchants in particular.

Using this approach, the researcher, in the first place, developed a clear theoretical position prior to the collection of data so as to have a clear picture on how the relationship between e-commerce and the supply chain exists, so as to create room for collecting valid infonnation necessary for the study.

3.2. Research Design

The researcher used descriptive qualitative survey research designs. To interpret the research findings through the quantitative design alone might have left some questions unanswered. Qualitative designs provide for the capture of variables such as attitudes, characteristics of respondents.

3.3. Research Instruments

To collect data and information, the researcher intended to utilize semi-structured questionnaires. Semi-structured questionnaires were preferred because they contain both closed questions for collecting quantitative data and open ended questions for collecting qualitative data.

The questionnaires allowed respondents to answer the questions freely without being influenced by the researcher. The questionnaire were not necessarily requiring the respondents to indicate their names on the questionnaires to ensure that respondents feel comfortable to give infonnation.

The researcher further conducted both structured and unstructured interviews. The interviews accorded the researcher the opportunity to get clearer infonnation in the event that the infonnation provided by the interviewees was unclear. The researcher benefited from the interviews because more probing gave the researcher a deeper understanding of the situation under study.

3.4. Population

The population of the study was 100. This constituted Managers, Directors, Marketing and Sales officers, the Operations personnel and the Procurement personnel respectively responsible for managing the Supply Chain functions and activities

This population was chosen because managers of supply chain functions have wider knowledge on how e-commerce is applied in the Supply Chain process. The infonnation obtained from them was significant in answering the research questions and addressing objectives of the study, ft was easier to conduct this research since all of it was done within the company’S operational area, which is the industrial area of Kanengo in the city of Lilongwe.

3.4.1. Sample Size

This study only targeted a sample size of 80% of the whole population, which was a total of 80 people. This included the company’S Directors, Marketing and Sales officers, the Operations personnel and the Procurement personnel respectively.

3.4.2. Sampling Technique

There are two types of sampling techniques namely probability sampling technique and non-probability sampling technique. In this study, the researcher used non-probability sampling technique because it is easy to apply and also provides an equal chance of selection.

3.5. Data Collection

The study used both primary and secondary sources of data.

3.5.1. Primary Data

Primary data refers to the infonnation collected specifically for the purpose of investigation at hand. In other words primary sources come straight from the people or workers you can collect. The primary data method was used where sample individuals were being asked using a questionnaire in order to evaluate these factors.

A questionnaire is a list of a research or survey questions asked to respondents, and designed to extract specific infonnation. It was designed and assisted the researcher get infonnation from other various entrepreneurial organizations as well.

3.5.2. Secondary Data

The research also used secondary data methods to get additions infonnation not provided by the primary data such as literatures, that helped the comparability with other companies.

3.6. Data Processing

Data was entered using Microsoft Excel that enabled the researcher to make the different statistics coherent to the other relating data.

3.6.1. Data Analysis and Interpretation

Data was analyzed using excel. Descriptive statistics were used where pie chart, cross tabulation table and frequencies tables were used to present the findings.

In descriptive statistics the researcher calculated the mean, standard deviation, minimum and maximum, sum for some numerical variables. The data has been presented on tables followed by explanations. Content analysis and thematic analysis will be utilized for data acquired from interpersonal interviews.

3.6.2. Research Ethics

Ethics is a discipline about moral and ethical phenomena (Klimsa 2014). Ethics is made up of nonns or standards of behaviors that guide morals choices about our behavior and our relationships with others (Coldwell 2004). The main target of utilizing ethics in research is to ensure that no one is affected in any way from the research activities. Ethical considerations are philosophical in nature. Unfortunately there is no general agreement among philosophers pertaining to the explanations of such considerations. We have to understand that the rights and obligations of individuals are usually dictated by the prevailing societal norms.

As the researcher was doing this research, he was so mindful of these ethics. Just to outline a few, the rights and obligations of the researcher, the use of the research results and the respondents. I kept confidential all names that I interviewed and all the data will be kept privately. All the information collected was dealt as such and I never altered anything to please the reader. I upheld the moral standards and ensured that the data was objective and factual. I never included trash in this research.

3.6.3. Limitations of the Study

The researcher faced some challenges while doing this study. To begin with, partial access to certain infonnation as the researcher was dealing with other registered companies that may have also wanted to keep private some of their challenges and failures in the long run. Some never gave values to the questionnaire and some others did not return it totally.

Besides this, some others saw the questionnaire politically even though orientations were made. Furthermore, since respondents may have attended other studies, some were not willing to fill the questionnaires. Lastly, since all the respondents were not situated in one common area but were scattered in different sites in the city, some difficulties were faced in giving orientations, following up respondents and collecting responses. Therefore, these conditions might have affected the quality of the paper to some extents.

3.7. Chapter Summary

In this chapter the researcher used a deductive research approach. The chapter further outlines the design of the research as well as outlining the instruments used in the course of conducting this study such as questionnaires, interviews, and secondary data. The chapter further contains the population of the study of 100 employees, the study sample of 80 employees, and clearly outlines that the researcher opted for purposive sampling. The chapter further outlines the ethical issues observed in this study explaining that all respondents were treated fairly and gave their consent before participating in this study, and limitations to the study were clearly outlined. The following chapter is research findings and discussions.

CHAPTER 4: SURVEY FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS

4.0. Introduction

This chapter presents and discusses findings that were captured during the study. In order to provide answers to the research questions raised and to meet the research objectives, relevant data was obtained and analyzed to bring forward the underlying points for this research. These have been outlined below:

4.1. Findings from the Primary Data

4.1.1. The Gender of the respondents

The researcher wanted to find out the sex of the people that would be involved in the interviews, and it was revealed that there were more females than males who participated in the survey, as shown in chart 4 below:

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Table 4.1: Results showing the gender of the respondents

The above bar chart shows that 75% of the participants were females while the remaining 25% were males. This therefore indicates that the majority of the respondents were females.

4.1.2. Age of Respondents

The researcher wanted to find out the age of the participants, and the result indicated that, 67.7% were respondents of age between 25years and 35 years while 32.3% were respondents of age between 36years and 45years. This assumes that the majority (67.7%) of respondents were of age range between 25years and 35 years. These results have been clearly presented in the table below:

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Table 4.2: Table showing the age of the respondents 4.1.3. Education Level of Respondents

The researcher also wanted to know the level of education of the people that he was going to be dealing with, and the results showed that 87.1 % of the respondents were either holders of a certificate or a diploma, 9.7% of the respondents were first degree holders and 3.2% of the respondents held a Masters qualification . This assumes that the majority of respondents were either a certificate or diploma holders, as indicated in the table below:

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Table 4.3: Table showing the education level of the respondents 4.1.4. Respondent’s Working Department

The researcher also wanted to know the department that each respondent was involved with, and the results showed that 8 of the respondents work in the Finance department, 12 of the respondents work in the Quality Control department, 30 of the respondents work in the Production sector, another 7 of the respondents is involved in the Sales and Marketing department, 5 of the total respondents work in the Management (Administration) sector, and the other 18 respondents work in other various departments and organizations, as shown in the 4.3 chart below:

A chart showing the working department of each respondent

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Table 4.4: A chart showing the education level of the respondents

4.1.5. Respondent’s working position

Fiere the researcher sought to find out respondent’s working position because the position one holds within an organization detennines the level of infonnation and knowledge regarding to the roles of e-commerce in the supply chain process. The research targeted all positions from junior to top management positions, and findings from this research show that 51.6% of the respondents were junior level employees, 41.9% of the respondents were middle level employees, and 6.5% of respondents were top level employees. This means that the majority of the participants were junior employees as indicated by the majority (51.6%), as clearly indicated in the table below:

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Table 4.5: Table showing the working position of the respondents

4.1.5.1. Research Objective 1: How e-commerce has improved the speed of delivery of goods at Mpangananji General Merchants

This section provides findings regarding to how e-commerce has helped improve the speed of delivery of goods at Mpangananji General Merchants. The achievements include both reduced lead times and improved sales revenues resulting from quick sales of the company’S products.

The data collected by the researcher revealed that the role that e-commerce has in the Supply chain system was moderate, and this implies that it was neither responsive nor a failure. The data indicated that even though e-commerce is playing a very significant role in the supply chain system, still more there is a long way to go, and this clearly indicates that there are some challenges and gaps that need to be addressed in order to make the supply chain system at Mpangananji General Merchants more effective and responsive so that the organization can achieve its goals and objectives and later become a star perfonner where other organizations can benchmark from it. Below is a chart indicating results:

A chart showing results from the interviews conducted on how effective e-commerce has contributed toward the speedy delivery of goods to its customers

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Table 4.6: A Chart showing the responses of the interviewees on the issue of training workers on the use of e-commerce

From the results shown in the graph chart above, it is noted that 40 respondents replied that e-commerce has a greater role in the supply chain system, representing 50% of the total respondents. On the other hand, it can be noted from the table that 40 other respondents responded that there are many implications caused by the use of e-commerce in the supply chain system, representing 50% of the total respondents. These results have rendered the researcher in concluding that the role played by e-commerce in the Supply Chain process at Mpangananji General Merchants is moderate.

4.1.5.2. Research Objective 2: Advantages of deploying e-commerce in conducting business on a daily basis at Mpangananji General Merchants

One of the advantages that has been discovered as a result of using e-commerce in business is that there has been a creation of a large customer base through the online purchasing functions. This is a very good development as it has enabled the company to encounter a massive capital base through the increase of the sales revenues as shown in the chart below:

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Table 4.7: A chart showing the comparison of sales before and after using e-commerce

The use of e-commerce has also enabled the company advertise its products easily to its customers, and this has also helped it to expand its services easily to most parts of the country. In addition to that, it has also been able to conduct business with other international companies that offer some of its demanded products to supply them on time so as to see to it that customer satisfaction is being achieved at all times.

It was discovered that e-commerce has a tremendous impact on improving an organization’s stand. E-Commerce has increased the possibility of improving the trade by improvising the growth of the company to compete with the large companies in the supply chain process (Ahangari 2013). This is possible through the continual use of e-commerce by updating customers on what is in stock, improvising online payments so as to be able to even reach out to those customers that are away from our physical premises. This development has seen Mpangananji General Merchants making strides in the business circles and enlarging its customer base.

4.1.5.3. Challenges Faced through the use of e-commerce at Mpangananji General Merchants

Another objective of this study was to find out the challenges that have been faced throughout the use of e-commerce at Mpangananji General Merchants. In spite of all the significant progress encountered in the supply chain as a result of using e-commerce at Mpangananji General Merchants, there are many challenges as well that need to be addressed by the organization if the effectiveness of the supply chain system is to be maintained for the realization of the company’S goals and objectives. Basing on the above argument, the respondents were asked to suggest and contribute as to why the application of e-commerce in the supply chain systems of other similar organizations fail, and several ideas were put across.

In the first place, it was realized that there is lack of fonnal trainings and refresher courses relating to the value of e-commerce in the supply chain system. These trainings are very important because they help to update the responsible workers on how they can effectively apply e-commerce in their daily transactions with the customers. During this survey, several respondents agreed with the issue of training the workers, and the infonnation has been presented accordingly in the chart 4.7 as below:

Results From The Interviews Conducted on need for the Organisation to train the employees on the use of e-commerce

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Table 4.8: A chart showing results from an interview conducted on the need to train employees on the use of e-commerce

The data in the above chart shows that out of the 40 respondents, 32 supported the need for training the workers on how to effectively apply e-commerce in the supply chain process, representing a total of 80% of the total respondents. The data also shows that 8 people disagreed with the need for training the workers on the use of e-commerce in the supply chain process, and this represents a total of 20% of the total respondents. The data also revealed that all the supply chain players who never attended any fonnal training had minimal knowledge on the importance concerning the relationship between e-commerce and the supply chain process.

Secondly, it was also discovered that there is lack of cooperation and effective communication between the corporate level and the operations level. This resulted in not meeting the organization’s priority settings, goals and objectives which resulted into stunted growth of the organization because the decisions made at the corporate level were not reaching the operations level on time. This development has had a problem on the flexibility of the company since the lead times are longer than expected which also results in customers’ frustration.

Finally, it was also discovered that delays in decision making in approving any procurement transaction by the Internal Procurement Committee (IPC) and the senior management at large is a big challenge because it leads to delays in meeting customer needs because of limited speed in conducting the transactions.

4.1.5.4. Possible Solutions to the problems that are encountered in using e-commerce

Firstly, it is recoimnended that the company takes into consideration the need for it to engage fonnal training and refresher programs for the supply chain personnel so that they should be given knowledge on understanding on the concept of how to effectively use e­commerce. This is very important as it will also provide more chances to the organization to maximize its competitive potential in the business environment.

Secondly, it is also recommended that the company should create room for cooperation and effective communication among all its various levels in the organization. When effective communication is achieved, it is easier to pass on relevant infonnation and in so doing, customer satisfaction is also easily achieved since all the necessary processes occur on time.

Finally, it is also recommended that the Internal Procurement Committee (IPC), should review its procurement procedures so as to be able to catch up with the demand on the market. If the IPC can quicken the process of approving any requisition, then the company will be able to access its raw materials on time and this will assist the operations team to meet its activities on time and thereby improve the revenues rate as well.

4.1.5.5. Research Objective 3: To identify the challenges that have been encountered throughout the use of e-commerce in business at Mpangananji General Merchants.

In response to this research objective, the literature that was reviewed was responsive from different angles. Ahangari (2013), states that the use of e-commerce in conducting trade provides a competitive platfonn among the suppliers in order to maintain their customer’s loyalty; this is an advantage to an organization as it helps an organization gain a benchmark platfonn in the business sector. A competitive advantage, as defined by Roth and Miller ( 1990), is an extent to which an organization is able to create strong positions over its rivals. In order to achieve this, an organization has to tactically adopt proper planning skills, control the use its resources amicably, create a balanced and flexile logistical strategy on how it will reach out to its customers. All in all, it also needs to ensure that its customers have easy access to the company’S latest updates.

Apart from just being beneficial, there are also some drawbacks that have been encountered in using e-commerce, and one of them is lack of proper legal infrastructures. This has been a very big blow in e-commerce since there are no clear measures that have been put across to avoid fraudsters hence this also affects customers heavily because they end up paying to a wrong individual due to lack of sufficient knowledge on how e-commerce operates. Another disadvantage that has been discovered is that most employees are not frilly trained on how they can transact with their customers via network portals, and this leads to some delays in most instances. According to Bruce (1996), an effective supply chain depends on the ability to execute the key business that delivers value and the quality and the right time to the customers. An effective supply chain system has to be a controllable process that is organized, composed of people intending to do the actual work.

4.2. The Need for integrating e-commerce in the Supply Chain

There are many reasons why companies need to adopt and integrate e-commerce in their day-to-day transactions. The 21st century business environment is very competitive now as more and more companies are coming up with different products each and every day, thus leaving no stone unturned. The use of e-commerce in the business sector helps to build up smooth supply chains that ensure that customers’ needs are met on time, and thus effective supply chains are made up of improved levels of operations, increased levels of outsourcing, increasing costs and competitive pressures, increasing globalization and increased dependency on the use of e-commerce (Stevenson 2002). With the increase in the use of technology, the facilitation of fast flow of infonnation is essential in a well- coordinated supply chain system in order to achieve the strategic and operational objectives of a company.

4.2.1. Moving a Technologically Driven Supply Chain

E-commerce is a primary factor for moving the forces of increased globalization and customers’ demands. In a process of achieving this, there is also need to create vibrant relationships with your counterparts in the industry sector. Strategic relationships are long­term and encourage strategic planning in improving problem solving efforts (Gunasekaran 2001). It is much more required for an organization to cooperate with other organizations that are going to add value to its reputation. This is one of the most welcome developments in business circles that will enable your organization meet consumers’ needs easily by the ease created among the different entities. When relationships are there and are trustworthy, each player in the industry makes it possible not to disappoint the other partner for fear of losing a reliable customer.

4.3. Chapter Summary

The chapter presented and discussed research findings in relation to the use of e-commerce in the chain management system, challenges in the use of e-commerce in business, impacts of using e-commerce on supply chain perfonnance, and the mechanisms or solutions to improve the role of e-commerce in the supply chain system. The chapter further presented findings from secondary data, and the study response rate has been put forth.

CHAPTER 5ะ CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.0. Introduction

Based on survey findings presented and discussed in chapter 4, the following conclusions have been drawn and recommendations formulated in order to lay out a practical path for the role of e-commerce in the supply chain system.

5.1. Conclusions

Basing on the findings of the study drawn from the responses to the research questions of this study, the researcher came up with several conclusions and recommendations.

5.1.1. Challenges facing the use of e-commerce at Mpangananji General Merchants

There are several factors that the researcher saw to be stumbling blocks in the application of e-commerce in the supply chain systems of Mpangananji General Merchants, and these are:

5.1.1.1. Lack of fonnal training and refresher courses for the employees on how to effectively use e-commerce in the supply chain process.

5.1.1.2. Lack of cooperation and effective communication between the corporate level and operations level of which is also a key factor is leading to delayed production resulting in longer lead times.

5.1.1.3. Delays by the Internal Procurement Committee (IPC) in approving purchases which also leads to delays in the sourcing of raw materials.

5.1.1.4. Failure to follow procurement guidelines leads to delays in the acquisition of the commodities which is also a time-factor hindrance in any business transaction.

5.1.1.5. Lack of strategic and collaborative partnerships with suppliers which also delays the whole supply chain process as some of the partners are involved with the logistics of the goods, hence, any delays in the logistics leads to delayed delivery of the products.

5.2. Possible and Sustainable Solutions to the problems facing the supply chain process of Mpangananji General Merchants

There are several possible factors, that the researcher saw to be relevant factors, can help to provide sustainable solutions to the problems felt in the supply chain system at Mpangananji General Merchants:

5.2.1. The organization should create strong strategic partnerships with its suppliers.

5.2.2. The procurement unit should follow procurement guidelines whenever conducting any procurement transaction.

5.2.3. The Internal Procurement Unit (1PC) should speed up the process of approving procurement transactions.

5.2.4. The organization should frequently provide fonnal trainings and refresher courses on how to use e-commerce in the supply chain process.

5.2.5. There is need for perfecting the communication process between the corporate level and the operations level.

5.3. Recommendations

After a thorough analysis and evaluation of the supply chain management process at Mpangananji General Merchants, the recoimnendations were based on the data that was collected. These recommendations were made to improve the perfonnance, responsiveness and effectiveness of e-commerce in the whole supply chain process. Below are the comprehensive recommendations :

5.3.1. The organization should ensure that it develops a strong team of leaders and team members who have acquired vast knowledge on how to use e-commerce in conducting business transactions on daily basis. This development will help to avoid any delays caused as a result of inconveniences on how to use e-commerce when conducting business online, which will help to reduce the lead times in meeting the needs of the customers.

5.3.2. There is also a need for the organization to put in place mechanisms that will provide simplicity in communication with the online customers; this will help the organization update its customers easily on any relevant developments.

5.3.3. The organization also needs to create an internal fonnal structure of communication that will enable infonnation to flow accordingly and also at a faster speed. This development will enable each department know what it is supposed to do hence creating a flexible room for speedy operations.

5.3.4. The user departments should be providing accurate and detailed specifications to the procurement unit in order to avoid meeting any delays resulting from poor specification.

5.3.5. The organization should create strong strategic partnerships with its counterparts so that products can easily be sourced and supplied to the customers on time.

5.4 Practical Contributions

The researcher assumes that by embarking on this research, it will assist in achieving and fulfilling the organization’s goals and objectives in meeting and satisfying the needs of the customers through the intensive use of e-commerce in the supply chain system. The study will be of a huge significance and will specifically contribute intensively in the following ways:

5.4.1. It will help to ensure that maximum speed is achieved in the process of meeting the demands of the customers.

5.4.2. It will help to uplift the standards of doing business by ensuring that the quality of the goods supplied is met.

5.4.3. It will also help create a benchmarking platfonn among various entrepreneurs due to an increase in the intensity of competition in the business sector.

5.4.4. It will also help improve the standards of service, not only at Mpangananji General Merchants, but also among other counterparts through the intensive involvement of e­commerce in business transactions.

5.5. Academic Contributions

5.5.1. The study can be used for further studies regarding to the relationship between the use of e-commerce and the supply chain process.

5.5.2. The study can be used to understand the concept of e-commerce.

5.6. Future Research Needs

The researcher has a belief that there is a need for further studies on this topic in future in order to get a deeper understanding on the relationship between e-commerce and the supply chain management process. In addition to this, the research shall expose more challenges that have not been captured in this study, and this shall help to improve the supply chain process in the long run at Mpangananji General Merchants through the involvement of improved and practical procedures of e-commerce in conducting business.

5.7. Chapter Summary

The chapter has drawn conclusion from the survey findings. It has also put forth recommendations to both Mpangananji General Merchants and other entrepreneurial organizations on how they can make the use of e-commerce in the supply chain a very successful process. Furthermore, the chapter has put forth the practical contribution of the study to national and organizational supply chain management, as well as the academic society. Moreover, the chapter has also put forth recommendations for further study.

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Dear respondent,

My name is Fatsani Charles Makileni and I am currently a final year student at Exploits University, Malawi. I am doing a research aimed at assessing the role of e-commerce in the supply chain process among merchants.

The study is being carried out as part of the requirement by Exploits University for the award of a Bachelor’s degree in Logistics and Supply Chain Management. I therefore seek your opinion on different issues concerning the involvement of e-commerce in the Supply Chain process.

You can express your opinion by filing out the questionnaire below, which I believe could take only 10 minutes of your time. Nevertheless, take note that your participation is voluntary. Still, all infonnation concerning respondents will be kept confidential.

If any part of the questionnaire is not clear, or if you have any queries, please contact me, Fatsani Charles Makileni or email me. Should

you have a need of a copy of the abbreviated report of the findings, please write me an email or call me on the phone number above.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Fatsani Charles Makileni

EXPLOITS UNIVERSITY

Faculty of Commerce (Logistics and Supply Chain Management)

SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE FOR INTERVIEWS

Dear respondent,

Thank you for participating in this survey. There is no right or wrong answers and you may stop at any time; however, completing the entire survey takes (about 5-10 minutes) is greatly appreciated. Your results will remain anonymous.

This Questionnaire is academic oriented and is for a study under the topic: “AN EVALUATION OF THE ROLE OF E-COMMERCE IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN PROCESS AMONG MERCHANTS.”

Thank you for helping me in advancing my academic studies.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Respondent Particulars (please tick as appropriate)

1. Please tell US your gender:

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Male

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Female

2. Indicate your range of age (years)

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] 20-35

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] 36-45

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] 45 and above

2. Indicate your level of education

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Certificate/ Diploma

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Bachelor’s Degree

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Master’s Degree

3. What functions of Mpangananji General Merchants are you involved with?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Finance

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Production

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Quality Control

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Sales and Marketing

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Management

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Others (please specify)

2. What level of position do you hold?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Senior management

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Middle management

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Supervisory

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] staff

3. For how many years have you been with Mpangananji General Merchants?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Less than 3

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] 3 or more

Section 1

4. Has the use of e-commerce helped to improve the speed of delivery of goods at Mpangananji General Merchants?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Yes

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] No

5. If YES in 5, has this development been good for the organization?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Yes

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] No

If yes proceed to the next level of questions, otherwise you can stop here if answer is No

6. In your own words, explain the procedure that was followed to ensure that the use of e-commerce is effective.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

7. How did you know about the e-commerce procedure? Through

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Induction

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Trainings

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Refresher programs

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Many others

8. How accessible is the e-commerce procedure?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Human resource department

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Internet

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Manually

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Employment handbook

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Any other

Section 2

Please indicate your level of agreement in respect to the following statements as they relate to e-commerce involvement in your organization (please tick or circle, and explain where appropriate)

9. Explain, in your own words, the advantages that you have seen them being realized as a result of using e-commerce in conducting business.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

10. From your own observations, is there any strong relationship between e­commerce and the and the supply chain process?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Yes

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] No

11. Has the use of e-commerce in business proved to be effective?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Yes

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] No

12. Does the business community acceptance influence Mpangananji General Merchant’s e-commerce involvement?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Yes

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] No

13. Better contribution to the business community influences Mpangananji General Merchant’s e-commerce involvement?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Yes

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] No

14. Do you think e-commerce involvements have contributed to the growth of your business?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Yes

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] No

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Indifferent

15. Have e-commerce services satisfied you?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Yes

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] No

16. Have e-commerce activities increased your royalty to the nature of trade that you involved in?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Yes

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] No

17. Have you ever influenced or provoked a friend, family member or anyone to start using e-commerce when doing any form of transaction in their daily business routine?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Yes

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] No

Section 3

Please indicate your level of agreement in respect to the following statements as they relate to e-commerce involvement in your organization (please tick or circle where appropriate)

18. Has the use of e-commerce brought around many challenges to the business environment?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Yes

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] No

19. If so, have merchants taken any step to ensure that they are in line with the e­commerce procedures?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Yes

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] No

20. Has the organization taken any steps to ensure that it minimizes the challenges faced as a result of using e-commerce in daily transactions?

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] Yes

[Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] No

END OF QUESTIONNAIRE

(I appreciate for sparing your time to take part in this study)

Details

Pages
65
Year
2016
ISBN (Book)
9783668441835
File size
1.2 MB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v359026
Grade
Tags
role e-commerce supply chain process among merchants evaluation

Author

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Title: The Role of E-Commerce in the Supply Chain Process Among Merchants. An Evaluation