B2B e-commerce has been identified as an emerging trend, with companies planning strategies to capture benefits. It is estimated that worldwide B2B e-commerce transactions will reach $2775 billion in 2004—a growth of over $2500 billion since 2000. There are also estimates that by 2004, B2B sales on the Internet will be six times larger than B2C sales. E-commerce may become the primary low-cost method for B2B transactions. Buyers and sellers benefit from the productivity and profitability improvements associated with e-commerce. With a relatively small investment, companies can achieve remarkable savings: e.g., leaders in e-commerce achieved 41% improvement in cycle time and a 10% reduction in staff and can generate up to a 13:1 ROI by using the full potential of B2B e-commerce. Yet, B2B e-commerce use has proved more difficult than expected. The community is looking for answers on how to proceed. The significance of B2B e-commerce makes it imperative to study it for three reasons: (1) it is becoming a viable alternative to traditional markets; (2) its commercial potential is enormous; and (3) little is known about the factors that influence the nature of firm participation.
The purpose of the study is to examine firm, context, and innovation characteristics related to B2B e-commerce. The hypotheses presented and tested allow a starting place to answer the following research questions: (1) Are B2B e-commerce compatibility with current systems and its perceived cost related to its overall use? (2) Are cooperative norms with customers and customer influence strategies related to overall use? (3) Is a firm's context in terms of size, production technology routineness, demand unpredictability, and process turbulence related to use? and (4) Is organizational structure (i.e., formalization, integration, specialization, and centralization) related to B2B e-commerce use?