Challenges of Finnish B2C E-commerce: Achieving competitive advantage through brand and service marketing

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School of Economics | Master's thesis
Information Systems Science
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Objectives of the study The main goal of the study was to find out how marketing could potentially be used to improve the competitiveness of Finnish B2C web stores. This is an extremely important question because of the radically increased significance of e-commerce in Finland and the fact that both marketing and international competition are seen as great challenges by the Finnish web stores. Academic background and methodology In order to answer the research question a very thorough investigation of existing literature was conducted on the topics of competitive advantage, success factors, consumer behavior and technology, e-commerce and e-service quality, the significance of satisfaction, trust and loyalty in e-commerce context as well as influence, dynamics, methods and channels of marketing communications. After this, an empirical study was conducted using qualitative methods. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from web store merchants, as well as experts dealing with web stores and experts on consumers and markets. Findings and conclusions The findings of the research revealed several critical issues for B2C e-commerce success and gaps in the marketing know-how of Finnish B2C web stores. The main conclusion was that the overall level of know-how and knowledge among Finnish web stores is too low. Additionally, the best method of achieving competitive advantage is through strategic differentiation, which then again is best reached through the brand, service and product offering based positioning – all made more effective by localization. Several recommendations for the web stores as well as other parties are made in the thesis.
e-commerce, B2C, success factors, competitive advantage, service marketing, localization, differentiation strategies, web marketing, digital channels, multichannel integration, social shopping