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IMPACT OF E-PLATFORMS ON SMALL BUSINESS COMPETITIVENESS
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In today’s world, the thought of living without the internet is immeasurable and it can cause inconvenience to many as not only people but business organizations have started to rely on the internet due to the ever changing, dynamic business environment. The impact of e-platforms on businesses cannot be overemphasized in today’s business development as it has helped big businesses to gain competitive grounds in the market sphere. "Businesses such as gokada, innoson vehicle motors have come to rely heavily on social media publicity for their products on various e-platforms in a bid to gain competitive advantages over competitors, effectively advertising their goods and services to prospective consumers and shaping public opinion on their products, their organizations and even their competitors.Also in context of E-platform, social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expressions via virtual communities and networks.
New businesses nowadays now depend on how much noise they can make on various e-platforms to be able to gain market share, an example is the eko innovation hub. The emergence of the internet using various e-platforms has made it possible for anyone to communicate with literally thousands of people about particular products and the companies that provide them. Thus, the impact of consumer-to-consumer communications has been widely magnified in the marketplace. Social media is a hybrid element of the promotion mix because in a traditional sense it helps firms talk to their customers, while in a nontraditional sense it only assists customers to talk directly to one another.There are a handful of researchers and authors who have contributed to this research field, they are sited below:
According to Berthon et al. (2012), to help managers learn more about this new dispensation five things are needed to be done: (1) e-platforms always follow a technology, culture, and government of a particular country or context; (2) local events are sometimes local; (3) global events most likely to be (re)interpreted locally; (4) creative consumers’ actions and creations depend on technology, culture, and government; and (5) technology is historically dependent. E-platforms explores the cultural landscape of open source branding, and identifies marketing strategies directed at the hunt for consumer engagement on the People's Web.
To increase competitive advantage and effectively reach the competitive environment of businesses, most firms require to carefully monitor and analyze both the customer-generated content on their own e-platform sites and the textual information on their competitors’ social platforms (He et al., 2013).
These electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) statements expressed on the web are much prevalent in business and service industry to help consumers share their point of view (Ravi & Ravi, 2015). The concept of e-platforms has been on top of the agenda for many business executives. Decision makers, as well as consultants, try to identify ways in which firms can make profitable use of applications such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc. (Kaplan &Haenlein 2010).
Today social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook enable the creation of virtual customer environments (VCEs) where online communities of interest form around specific firms, brands, or products. (Culnan et al., 2010).
The social networking application is not merely associated with customer relationships then relying on the industry, the objectives, etc., and managers have to choose their own techniques. Finally, some have attempted to standardize the implementation of SM networks for businesses by building some necessary tools (ColomoPalacios et al., 2014). An increase in the number of new customers has enhanced the ability to reach customers on a global scale and co-promotion of local businesses which enhance the image of small businesses in the region (Jones et al., 2015).
Different e-platforms have become a topic of discussion in our society today and has gained widespread acceptance in our today environs. Also in our today business environment various e-platforms have helped to achieve outstanding successes. There has been a fundamental shift in the strategy of conducting business amongst the ever evolving business community all over the world and the people who have not yet joined the trend are forced to come on board due to the rapid spread and acceptance of various e-platforms among the general public and the consumers in particular.A lot of studies and researches (Kaplan, 2012), (Mathew Mount, 2014), (Michaelidou et al., 2011) have been conducted on why and how social media has attained such an importance in consumers mind and the rapid explosion of various networking applications in the global market. These technologies have shifted the emphasis of internet services from being consumptionbased towards becoming interactive and collaborative, creating new opportunities for interaction between organizations and publics (Henderson &Bowley 2010). Facebook was created because a Harvard undergraduate student wanted to connect with his fellow students (Mezrich et al., 2009). Technologies in some cases have uncertain, little, or no impact on organizational performance (O‟Sullivan 1998), some researchers say corporate adoption of social media, is already showing enormous benefits since the organizations are using it for advertising, branding, information and knowledge search and for customer service and building relationships.
1.2 STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEM
In today’s era of globalization, competition has become fiercer than ever. Reduced trade barriers, spread of technology and lower costs for communication and transportation have sharpened competition at both international and local levels. As a result, it becomes essential in today’s ever evolving internet and e-platforms driven environment, that small business owners understand the impact of the use of e-platforms platforms in growing small businesses. Small businesses play a crucial role in economic development and survival, and are strong drivers of new innovation which is an impetus to job creation and economic rejuvenation. Several authors have often stressed the relevance of small businesses towards economic prosperity, economic growth and advancement (Adegbuyi et al, 2015).
The majority of academic literature discussing e-platforms strategy in organizations only researches strategy in large organizations. The weakness of such literature, however, is that those same strategies do not necessarily work for small businesses (Cox, 2012). Small business marketing strategies and e-platforms. The research provides a set of techniques that small businesses employ for their e-platforms strategy, an analysis of these techniques, and lessons from the techniques that may benefit others (Cox, 2012).