Current business trends are showing that use of E-commerce activities is increasing in every sector and even the small and medium organizations are showing preference towards these applications (Cordella et al., 2015). Franklin (2015) opined that, tendency of giving preference to online trading is not limited among business management units; buyers are also interested to get such facilities. However, importance of E-commerce is increasing rapidly and more organizations are shifting to online trading from conventional business activities. The current report deals with discussion on need for implementing E-commerce activities in Lunch Box, a small restaurant at Canary Wharf. Strategies for implementation of E-commerce in the restaurant are also discussed in this report.
1. Expectations of internet customers for Lunch Box restaurant:
Lunch box is situated in a busy office area. Every day the restaurant requires serving large number o customers. However, the restaurant has no place where its customers can seat. It indicates that customers of this organization need to spend significant time for buying food. On other hand, as most of its customers work in office, it is not possible for them to wait for long time. There are other restaurants present in that area and the number of new restaurants is increasing continuously. Current analysis shows that the market is highly competitive in nature and competition will increase in future also. Kwok et al. (2015) opined that organizations operating in competitive market face more difficulty for retaining its clients.
According to Kim (2013) business growth and presence of infrastructure are directly related. Lack of infrastructure is also affecting business growth for Lunch Box. However survey among customers is showing that the organization will be able to increase revenue if it can deliver foods to customers at their offices. As most of the customers work in office, making an order using internet will be easy for them. If they do not need to go outside for taking lunch, they will be able to save valuable time during office hours. The current analysis reflects that customers of Lunch Box need an online platform where they will be able to order foods. The platform will also be able to accept payments made by customers. Moreover, it will provide customers with updated information regarding menus and will collect their feedback on products. In case of any internet application, security is the most important factor (Franklin and Spinler, 2011).Lunch Box management needs to ensure that their online system is secured to attract its clients.
2. E-Commerce applications for Lunch box:
Lunch Box management is implementing e-business infrastructure to serve its customers more efficiently. Most of the customers of this restaurant are office- worker and they want foods to be served in less time. Analyzing requirements of customers, Lunch box management can include features of online shopping, communication interface, e-payment facilities and newsgroups.
Online shopping and payment: Online platform of Lunch Box restaurant should include the features of online ordering and online payments. Laudon and Traver (2012) stated that organizations which conduct trading activities on internet has excellent opportunity for informing buyers regarding their new product. Online ordering and payment making facility can provide Lunch Box competitive advantages as it results time-efficient trading. The organization can use online shopping software to make the process simple.
Newsgroup and communication interface: Online applications of Lunch Box should include features for informing customers about the items available in their restaurant. It is important to predict future market trend for attaining sustainable growth rate (Wipo.int, 2015). However, the online portal needs to possess the feature of collecting customer feedbacks.
As the restaurant operates in highly competitive environment, it needs to modify existing business strategies to acquire more shares in market. Collection and analysis of customer feedbacks is beneficial for any organization as it provides hints regarding future consumer requirements (Xu, 2012).Collection of customer feedbacks can be useful for the restaurant to make efficient strategies in future. On other hand, communicating with buyers on regular basis also helps companies to develop their future business strategies ().Lunch Box management may include the facility of communicating with its customers through email in their online business platform. Regular communication with customers will not only benefit Lunch Box in strategy development, but it will also increase loyalty of customers to the restaurant. New product development and implementing innovation is existing product also play important roles in business growth (Wang and Chang, 2013). If Lunch Box keeps regular contact with its customers, it can collect their suggestion on menu. It will also benefit the organization in product development and innovation implementation.
Lunch box portal will contain feature of collecting customer feedback. Although customer feedback is valuable for a business, purposely made wrong feedbacks can affect reputation of an organization (Douligeris, 2013).Lunchbox management can face such problems also. Loss of security during online payments is one of the major threats for internet trading (Clarke, 2013). If the system made by Lunch Box fails to provide secured transaction, people will not be interested to use it. It can reduce number of online customers and thus can affect overall business growth.
3. E-commerce strategy for Lunch Box:
Before implementing E-commerce site, Lunch Box management requires developing proper strategies for increasing effectiveness of the whole process. Areas which require intense focus while developing strategies are-online shopping and payment, access to data, data storage and data analysis.
Online ordering and making payments strategy: Controlled access and use of software: E-commerce site developed by Lunch Box need to include interface for making orders through internet. This interface will also be used for making payments. Management requires ensuring that only authorized persons are able to use it. However, the process of accessing this interface will be simple and user friendly. Task of collecting payments will be conducted by proper software.
User-account creation using simple form: Although it is important to make the user interface secured, customers always prefer simple system for online business (Clarke, 2015). Lunch box management can enable customers to create their own accounts. The site may contain a form for account creation. After creating an account successfully, it will be accessed by using user Id and password. Guide lines, terms and conditions will also be in the site for increasing simplicity.
Feedback collection and communication strategy: Use of e-mail and newsgroup: As the new online platform is being implemented to meet customers’ requirement, their feedbacks will be given maximum importance in this site. Lunch Box management can create newsgroup for communicating with customers. Use of newsgroup will allow the customers to communicate among them. It will be beneficial for the organization to attract new customers. The organization also requires maintaining a database to store collected data. The database will be linked with logistics system to improve quality of service.
Data analysis by experts: To maximize the usefulness of e-commerce system, Lunch Box management requires analyzing collected data through the system. The management can execute this task by experts to get accurate information. Proper data analysis will be helpful for business strategy development.
4. Risks of E-commerce:
Although use of E-commerce facilities is increasing rapidly, its effectiveness is still limited by security issues (Ancona, 2015). Risk factors which may affect efficiency of internet trading system of Lunch Box can broadly be classified in two categories- data security risks and technological risks.
Data security risks: Information security threats for a business include hacking into company’s system and stealing important information on customers or products (Deng and Zhang, 2014).However, these threats also include violation of intellectual property and copyright rules. As organizations invest large amount of their capital on product development violation of intellectual property rights can cause huge loss for it (Douligeris, 2013).Clarke (2015) opined that in case of restaurants, product innovation can be considered as the most important part of strategy. It also indicates that Violation of intellectual property can affect profit earned by Lunch Box.
Apart from security threats, efficiency of online activities can be reduced by technological risks (Wilson, 2015).Incidents of server crashing not only restricts an organization from conducting business activities; it also reduces reliability of system to users. If Lunch Box links its business activities to internet, incidents of server crashing can reduce effectiveness of online platform. However, the organization requires ensuring that bandwidth used by this system is sufficient so that large number of customers can use it. Internet connections with narrow bandwidth often face problems caused by huge traffic in system (Zou and Seo, 2015).
As Lunch Box management is focusing on increasing online interaction with customers, it is expected that the system will include various features. Lunch Box management need to focus on maintaining quality of software as presence of errors in software can restrict users from using every feature.Management of the restaurant is planning for making business strategies according to buyers’ feedback. Lunch Box management will maintain databases for this purpose. However, number of transactions per day through this system will be very high. As a result, database of this company needs to be updated regularly to avoid erroneous results. However the organization also needs to integrate its operational and supply chain activities with the system through database. If the database is not updated regularly, products can become out of stock and it will reduce customer satisfaction. Lunch Box management can collect personal information regarding customers including name, address, and contact number as a part of their business communication. Security loss of such sensitive data can reduce buyers trust on the organization severely and occurrence of such cases impacts on long term business growth (Zhong, 2013). Although data collection about customers is important for business growth, Lunch Box management requires emphasizing to protecting sensitive data for avoiding long term business issues.
Technological risks: Yang and Ma (2013) stated that utilization of any software can be optimized by using advanced hardware systems. Use of roper hardware is necessary for E-commerce sites as software used by such system are highly advanced and complex (www.ids.ac.uk, 2015). It indicates that the E-commerce system used by Lunch Box can face threats due to poor hardware system and it will make the whole system inefficient.
Lunch Box is a small restaurant and it is expected that initially the organization will depend on its ISP (Internet Service Provider) for managing online activities. According to Zhang (2012) excessive dependence on external agencies can make organizational processes slow. If the restaurant implements E-commerce infrastructure, scope of business will become wide. Lunch Box management needs to give importance on developing their own team to support IT operations in future.
5. Importance of protecting Intellectual property:
Although intellectual property (IP) is important for all businesses, it is more important in e-commerce activities (Wilson, 2015). Implementation of online business infrastructure requires use of several hardware and software components-business software, user interfacing system, networking system etc. If organizations do not restrict other companies from using these components, profitability will reduce (Wang and Chang, 2013). It will also lead to loss of security and unauthorized access of secret information. As Lunch Box has large number of competitors, it will focus on securing IP rights while developing e-business infrastructure. Organizations operating in e-business environment use trademark and logos. Use of logo is not only useful for distinguishing an organization from its competitors; often it represents goodwill of a company in market. Lunch Box management needs restricting unauthorized use of its logo for developing their brand identity in market. However, the organization also requires registering the domain name used by their system to restrict misuse of their goodwill in market.
6. Security measures for Lunch Box:
Analysis on possible threats for upcoming e-commerce site of Lunch Box indicates that the organization requires adopting several security measures as a part of their business transformation process. Although implementing proper security is crucial for smooth execution of online transactions, these measures can be implemented by using simple guidelines (Qi et al., 2013). However, Lunch Box management can develop their own policies for securing online activities. The basic policies for secured e-commerce site development include – creating separate accounts for each customer and developing password policies, using encrypted data, increasing awareness among customers, using wallet software for payment.
Access to customer account and password policies: Each customer of Lunch Box needs to be able to make an account using site for accessing e-business facilities. These accounts can be accessed only using right User ID and password. Management can develop own rules for creating passwords. Use of specific rules regarding password development ensures generation of complex passwords and it reduces chances of account hacking (Millman, 2011).Management of Lunch Box may require creation of employee accounts also. It is important to change password when an employee leaves the restaurant to prevent loss of secured data.
Data encryption: E-commerce site of Lunch Box needs storing large amount of data. However, the management can store data in encrypted form. If the data is stored in encrypted form, use of private information can be prevented even the data is accessed by unauthorized person (Johannesson, 2011). However, management must ensure that the encryption key is secured to maximize the efficiency of data storage.
Increasing awareness among customers: Apart from developing organizational policies, making customers aware about safe payment policies is equally important for maintaining security of system (Humphrey et al. 2015).Lunch Box management can add a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page in site for guiding customers regarding safe payment practices. This page can also contain information to guide customers while retrieving User ID or password.
Use of Online wallets: Use of online wallets for making payment not only makes the process simpler, but it also makes it secured (Heeks, 2015).Lunch Box management can also use online wallet software to make the payment system more efficient. However, the organization can also communicate with customer before making any payment for increasing security.
7. Evaluation and implementation of E-commerce strategies for Lunch Box:
Analysis on current e-commerce developments indicates that use of mobile friendly site is increasing rapidly. Organizations are also using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques along with conventional marketing strategies to attract traffic. However, the trend of providing free delivery of services is also escalating. Lunch Box management can use these trends in their strategies.
Use of mobile-friendly site: As the number of hand-held devices increasing, development of mobile friendly site increases its accessibility (Fredriksson, 2015). As customers of Lunch Box need fast process, making mobile friendly e-commerce site will lead to increase in number of users. However, it may increase the cost of site development also.
Using SEO techniques: According to Bertarelli, (2014) organizations require seeking new opportunities for business expansion. Although Lunch Box is currently a small organization, it has enough opportunities to grow. Use of SEO techniques in site will allow the company to attract customers of different localities also.
Free shipping facility: In case of E-commerce, use of free shipping process increases the number of customers (Boyd and Simpson, 2013). Lunch Box management can easily implement this trend into their strategy for increasing sale of products. As the organization is currently operating in a small locality, strategy of providing free delivery will be feasible also.
Discussion made in the current report indicates that Lunch Box managemet needs using e-commerce site immediately to attain better position in market. Although it operates in a small market, use of e-commerce can develop opportunities for entering into new markets. However, at initial phase, Lunch Box management can face some difficulties make the system secured.
Ancona, A. (2015). Intellectual Property And E-Commerce. [online] Available at: https://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/sme/en/wipo_wasme_ipr_ge_03/wipo_wasme_ipr_ge_03_13-main1.pdf [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].
Bertarelli, S. (2014). On the efficacy of imperfect public-monitoring of seller reputation in e-commerce. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications.
Boyd, C. and Simpson, L. (2013). Information security and privacy. Berlin: Springer.
Clarke, C. (2015). Intellectual Property, E-Commerce, Competition Policy, And Internet Governance. [online] Available at: https://www.wgig.org/docs/book/C_Trevor_Clarke%20.pdf [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].
Clarke, R. (2013). Data Risks in the Cloud. Journal of theoretical and applied electronic commerce research, 8(3), pp.9-10.
Cordella, A., Martin, A., Shaikh, M. and Smithson, S. (2015). Management and innovation of e-business. [online] Available at: https://www.londoninternational.ac.uk/sites/default/files/programme_resources/lse/lse_pdf/subject_guides/is3167_ch1-4.pdf [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].
Deng, X. and Zhang, J. (2014). Differentiating the Effects of Internet Usage and Wireless Usage on Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer E-commerce. Journal of Internet Commerce, 13(2), pp.138-157.
Douligeris, C. (2013). Collaborative, trusted and privacy-Aware e/m-Services. Berlin: Springer.
Franklin, J. (2015). International Intellectual Property Law. [online] Available at: https://www.asil.org/sites/default/files/ERG_IP.pdf [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].
Franklin, R. and Spinler, S. (2011). Shared Warehouses â€“ Sharing Risks and Increasing Eco-efficiency. International Commerce Review, 10(1), pp.22-31.
Fredriksson, T. (2015). E-commerce and Development Key Trends and Issues. [online] Available at:https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/devel_e/wkshop_apr13_e/fredriksson_ecommerce_e.pdf [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].
Heeks, R. (2015). Analysing E-Commerce for Development. [online] Available at: https://www.seed.manchester.ac.uk/medialibrary/IDPM/working_papers/di/di_sp04.pdf [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].
Humphrey, J., Mansell, R., ParÃ, D. and Schmitz, H. (2015). The Reality of E-commerce with Developing Countries. [online] Available at: https://eprints.lse.ac.uk/3710/1/The_reality_of_e-commerce_with_developing_countries.pdf [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].
Johannesson, J. (2011). Business growth in a tough economy. International Journal of Business Competition and Growth, 1(3), p.231.
Kim, D. (2013). Under what conditions will social commerce business models survive?. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 12(2), pp.69-77.
Kwok, S., Yang, C. and Tam, K. (2015). Intellectual property protection for electronic commerce applications. [online] Available at: https://web.csulb.edu/journals/jecr/issues/20041/Paper1.pdf [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].
Laudon, K. and Traver, C. (2012). E-Commerce 2013. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
Millman, C. (2011). E-Commerce Adoption by Micro Firms. International Journal of Online Marketing, 1(2), pp.1-23.
Qi, E., Shen, J. and Dou, R. (2013). Proceedings of 20th International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management. Heidelberg: Springer.
Uesugi, S. (2013). IT enabled services. Vienna: Springer.
Wang, J. and Chang, C. (2013). How online social ties and product-related risks influence purchase intentions: A Facebook experiment. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 12(5), pp.337-346.
Wang, J. and Chang, C. (2013). How online social ties and product-related risks influence purchase intentions: A Facebook experiment. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 12(5), pp.337-346.
Wilson, P. (2015). An overview of developments and prospects of e-commerce in the agricultural sector. [online] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/markets/e-commerce/report.pdf [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].
Wipo.int, (2015). Understanding How Intellectual Property (IP) Relates to E-Commerce. [online] Available at: https://www.wipo.int/sme/en/e_commerce/ip_ecommerce.htm [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].
www.ids.ac.uk, (2015). E-Commerce: Accelerator Of Development?. [online] Available at: https://www.ids.ac.uk/files/dmfile/PB14.pdf [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].
Xu, P. (2012). Information on Risks and Prevention of the Supply Chain in E-Commerce Environment. AMR, 605-607, pp.493-496.
Yang, Y. and Ma, M. (2013). Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Green Communications and Networks 2012 (GCN 2012). Berlin: Springer.
Zhang, W. (2012). Software engineering and knowledge engineering: Theory and Practice. Berlin: Springer.
Zhong, S. (2013). Proceedings of the 2012 International Conference on Cybernetics and Informatics. New York, NY: Springer.
Zou, P. and Seo,, Y. (2015). Effective applications of e-commerce technologies in construction supply chain: current practice and future improvement. [online] Available at: https://www.itcon.org/data/works/att/2006_10.content.07939.pdf [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].