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e‐CRM in SMEs: an exploratory study in Northern Ireland

Paul Harrigan (University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK)
Elaine Ramsey (University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK)
Patrick Ibbotson (University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 13 June 2008

Abstract

Purpose

Relationship marketing principles have seldom been applied to the small‐ and medium‐sized enterprise (SME). The purpose of this paper is to develop what is a striking link by investigating the role of internet technologies in the customer relationship management of SMEs based in Northern Ireland (NI).

Design/methodology/approach

This study took an exploratory outlook and a quantitative approach to data collection was adopted. A self‐completion questionnaire was distributed by post to a sample of 300 SMEs in NI. A response rate of 18.6 per cent was obtained.

Findings

The findings of this study illustrate that SMEs are implementing fundamental electronic customer relationship management (e‐CRM) practices and reaping the benefits from internationalisation. Challenges are few, but centre on a preference for face‐to‐face relationships and a lack of government support.

Research limitations/implications

It is hoped that this exploratory research has laid the foundation for further examination of e‐CRM in the SME context. Future studies should be able to replicate the process in other countries and on a larger scale. The potential also exists for in‐depth qualitative research.

Practical implications

The paper concludes that e‐CRM may have to move on to a more strategic and integrated level if SMEs in NI are to compete, both locally and globally.

Originality/value

This exploratory research has shed some light on the marginalised subject of e‐CRM in SMEs. For SMEs operating in a peripheral economy such as NI the benefits to be gained from e‐CRM are lucrative.

Keywords

Citation

Harrigan, P., Ramsey, E. and Ibbotson, P. (2008), "e‐CRM in SMEs: an exploratory study in Northern Ireland", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 385-404. https://doi.org/10.1108/02634500810879296

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited