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SME Internationalisation through Digitalisation: UK Specialist and Niche Retailers

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posted on 2023-08-30, 17:39 authored by Brenda T. M. Patil
The focus of the research is to investigate, how the Internet has changed internationalisation for micro and small specialist and niche retail firms within the United Kingdom (UK). Internationalisation within this research is based on the export practices of the firms. This further focuses on how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within the sector internationalise through different digital modes of entry and barriers experience. The study examines different internationalisation theories/models, the Internet and digital entry modes. The study undertaken followed interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) paradigm with an exploratory research approach. The nine case studies are developed through an in-depth semi structured interview with owner/founders of the firms. The qualitative analysis allows us to gain a better understanding of the internationalisation process experienced in these firms and the role of Internet. The empirical finding discuss the firm’s business journey (through traditional Brick and Mortar), where do they stand today with the use of Internet (inclusion of Brick and Click), internationalisation through digital modes of entry adopted by the firms (Click only), and how they plan to move forward (Virtual Store). This theory-building research demonstrates partial relevance of Born Global model of internationalisation. However, the findings from this study dominated around six different theories/models such as the Resource Based View, Dynamic Capabilities, Stage / Uppsala model, Born-again Global, Technology Acceptance Model and Diffusion of innovation theory. The introduction of new technologies like Social Media and E-commerce platforms have provided the greatest opportunities for expansion into the international markets for the micro and small firms. These technological tools have empowered the firms to export using multiple digital entry mode procedures towards globalisation. Which has resulted in a high impact on reaching multiple international markets over a short period of time. Also, considering the niche specialist sector the firms operate, this study has identified new internationalisation barriers: Brexit and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). These barriers relate to the changes in the external environment identified within the sector. A foundation is set for further research on the digital internationalisation process of other micro and small sector firms.



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