Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are vital components of our economies, but many struggle to perform the marketing prescribed theoretically for large organisations. In practice, marketing is performed in SMEs through an intrinsic customer orientation, which exhibits striking resemblances to customer relationship management (CRM) theory. A quantitative approach was adopted to provide broad understanding and classification to the under-researched area of e-CRM in SMEs. Exploratory factor analysis uncovered eight distinct yet inter-related factors underpinning the practices and processes of e-CRM in SMEs. Findings show that SMEs are performing e-CRM to varying extents, reaping a range of performance benefits and facing a range of challenges. It is true that SMEs are not adopting e-CRM per se, as described in the large organisation-biased literature, but they are adopting relatively simple IBTs to improve their customer communication and information management capabilities and thus to create competitive advantage in their own strategic way. From a theoretical perspective, this study has shed significant light on what is driving SMEs’ e-CRM activities, thus providing long-awaited theoretical support for a practical reality. From a managerial perspective, the study has delineated eight principal issues that require attention if e-CRM is to be implemented successfully in SMEs.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/patrick_ibbotson/16/