A Decision Support System Framework for Assessing Small Business Website Features of the B2C E-commerce

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Khatun, Madhury (2018) A Decision Support System Framework for Assessing Small Business Website Features of the B2C E-commerce. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Small business decision-makers require effective decision support solutions for their operational and strategic decision-making. Current decision support solutions provide various system provisions for managerial decisions. They remain limited in meeting the decision-makers’ cognitive requirements, specifically for small businesses in the business-to-consumer (B2C) online environment. Small businesses continuously suffer from a range of issues associated with changing business environment, technology, and consumer preferences. In order to address these issues, a small business must have an interactive website that offers a competitive platform. Small business managers often lack knowledge of how to update their websites. More than half Australian small businesses in the retail sector use their websites for promotions. Although it is essential for managers to have a digital strategy using effective websites, social media, and mobile applications, most owners/managers have lack of confidence in making decisions strategically in this significant matter. The objective of the study was to design an innovative decision support systems (DSS) solution to address the issues faced by owners/managers in making strategic decisions, particularly in their implementation of an effective website. The solution artefact was designed as an instantiation (a type of artefact) prototype. Practitioner groups evaluated it within the target small business retail industry. It was designed to provide support to small business owners/managers in making strategic decisions when selecting useful website features to achieve competitive advantage. As the DSS is a well-recognised research tradition within the information systems (IS) discipline, it was anticipated that the artefact would improve the current provisions of DSS and enable an innovative solution to support managerial decision-making in the context of online B2C business problems. This study adopted the design science research (DSR) methodology to capture the decision problems and convert them into a set of problem specific requirements to develop the solution. The DSR methodology was appropriate because it contributes to addressing the real-world application design environment in which the research problem and solution are well-defined. Evolutionary prototyping approach was used for the DSS development under user-centred design (UCD) principles. The data were collected through multiple focus group sessions involving owners/managers in evaluating the artefact. Qualitative and descriptive analysis approaches were adopted to analyse the data. These users evaluated the usability, efficacy, and performance of the DSS prototype instantiation. The evaluation was critical to producing a user-friendly DSS to meet end-user needs and for further improvements of the prototype. Contributions made throughout this study are diverse, creating the bridge between theoretical and practical knowledge. The major theoretical contribution was the conceptual DSS framework that produced a KB practical solution known as the website features evaluation DSS (WFE-DSS). In practice, owners/managers require real-time knowledge to maintain their website features to improve their websites’ performance. Information for knowledge must be derived from an analysis of the external business environment and related factors (competitors). The DSS can assist small businesses in selecting competitive website features by assessing them against potential competitors. The DSS was built on a Windows-based platform, familiar to many small businesses, and a cost-effective personal and KB-DSS type.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/37858
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 0806 Information Systems
Historical > FOR Classification > 1503 Business and Management
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Business
Keywords small business; websites; decision support systems; strategic decisions; website features evaluation DSS; WFE-DSS
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