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Net shareholder value

Stuart E. Jackson (Vice President of L.E.K Consulting LLC, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 31 October 2008




Most investors and business leaders understand that the internet has created a few high‐profile success but many more start‐up businesses that have destroyed rather than created value. As a result, many executives have dampened expectations for the transformational potential of internet‐based commerce, and have cut back investments accordingly. In this column, Stuart Jackson makes the observation that while many internet start‐ups have crashed, most of the biggest e‐commerce successes have come from established companies with a loyal base of customers who have added internet capabilities to supplement traditional channels. Traditional retailers and B2B businesses who have yet to grasp the full potential of the internet have untapped opportunities to create what might be called “net shareholder value” by using the Internet to supplement existing channels. The author proposes four key strategies for companies considering going down this path.


In this article, Jackson considers a number of the assumptions that were used to justify massive (and in many cases, outlandish) valuations of Internet businesses in the late 1990s. Jackson then evaluates the extent to which each of these has been proven true in the light of recent history. The author then draws lessons that can be applied broadly across any business considering e‐commerce strategies to supplement existing channels to market.


Companies should not think of e‐commerce as a separate business from traditional channels. E‐commerce and off‐line businesses selling the same products are competing in the same strategic market segment. Competitive advantage will go to those who can achieve overall scale benefits (taking account of customer acquisition costs as well as physical infrastructure and operating overheads) superior to the competition. In most situations, the best way to achieve this will be through an integrated offering leveraging multiple channels.


By looking in detail at e‐commerce successes and failures and the reasons behind those, this article provides valuable lessons for companies in how to increase competitive advantage and create shareholder value by leveraging the Internet for their business.



Jackson, S.E. (2008), "Net shareholder value", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 29 No. 6, pp. 53-55.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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