Despite the ‘optimists’ vigorous support of e-commerce for developing country producers, there remains a gap in our current knowledge of the relationship between e-commerce and global market access.
The paper seeks to address two broad, albeit related, research questions; are leading export-oriented garment producers in South Africa using business to business e-commerce to:
- expand their reach into new markets, and
- prepare and complete transactions with overseas buyers?
The evidence suggests that e-commerce is not having a significant impact on the business models of the largest South African exporting garment firms. If garment exporting firms were to adopt e-commerce for fully integrated transactions, this would entail a leap of faith. The market is not demanding it, and the payoffs of transaction-oriented e-commerce and e-marketplaces are regarded as being uncertain. Moreover, without active encouragement from buyers, many suppliers are likely to choose to wait.