The sustainability of small businesses in regional Australia is a focus area of the local Economic Development Boards. Small businesses in regional areas face a number of risks, challenges and opportunities. An important aspect of regional small business sustainability is the relationship with its customers and suppliers. Although E-commerce can provide substantial benefits to a business and offer opportunities for trading in a global marketplace, regional businesses often do not realise the value of using the Internet and e-commerce to improve the sustainability of their firms. This paper reports on collaborative research conducted by the University of South Australia (Centre for Regional Engagement) and the Whyalla Economic Development Board (WEDB) that used a stakeholder approach to identify the social responsibility initiatives undertaken by local small retail businesses in Whyalla, specifically with regards to engaging their customers and suppliers. While social responsibility refers to the benefits to groups outside the business (including ‘softer’ aspects such as customer satisfaction and good relationships with suppliers), sustainability refers to the benefits enjoyed by the business itself (such as ease of placing orders with suppliers and sales increases). The researchers concluded that, although many of the businesses in Whyalla understood their responsibility to provide their customers and suppliers with personal and quality service, few of the businesses used the Internet optimally (if at all) to buy, market and sell their products and services. The findings from the research can be used as a basis for providing future support to enhance the sustainability of the firms.
|Keywords:||Sustainability, Small Business, E-commerce, Internet Usage, Customers and Suppliers, Social and Environmental Responsibility|
Associate Head: Teaching and Learning, Computer and Information Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Head, Business and Regional Enterprise Unit, Business and Regional Enterprise Unit, Centre for Regional Engagement, University of South Australia, Whyalla, SA, Australia
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