Critical Success Factors of e-commerce Implementation (SMEs)

3 dimension of e-Commerce implementation (business, technical, technology)


The potential benefits of implementing information systems, the Internet and electronic commerce for increased efficiency of SMEs are well understood. Though SMEs have identified the benefits of IT and e-business, they are lagging behind in adopting new business models. The literature suggests that adoption of e-commerce requires a set of critical success factors to be satisfied in order to turn the initial investment into profit for SMEs (Levy and Powell, 1999).


This could be explained by a number of barriers, such as: unavailable investment capital, lack of resources, lack of knowledge and long-term e-commerce strategy.

The critical success factors of IT and e-commerce adoption include:

  • business pressures to adopt IT and e-commerce,
  • financial strength of the company,
  • the ability of managers to understand the benefits of IT and e-business
  •  the level of management skills and competences to implement e-business.

The analysis of e-commerce practice in SMEs (KITE, 1999) showed that the critical success factors of e-commerce implementation could be:

  • content: the ability to present a unique and/or innovative product or service by using the electronic environment in a value-added way,
  • commitment: the clear idea of companies’ goals and objectives as a strong motivation for using the Internet.
  • community: the ability to build up a critical mass of customers/business partners which will translate into sales/costs savings to cover the initial investment
  • control: the extent to which e-commerce is integrated with internal business processes, enabling the SMEs to control all aspects of its business and handle growth and innovation.


In order to implement e-business, SMEs need to change their business processes and existing information systems. Use of appropriate information technology and information systems could be the first step towards e-commerce implementation, but it is important not to promote only the technology, but also the solutions to their organisational problems. The necessary organisational changes of inefficient business processes could be the largest obstacles for the perspective of SMEs, therefore SMEs should be prepared for business process reengineering.