ABSTRACT 
n
The diffusion of e commerce applications and solutions among the investigated firms in 
the three German industry sectors seems to have reached a high level of saturation of e 
commerce technologies. This applies more or less for both types of establishments, large 
as well as small and medium sized ones (SMEs) in all of the three investigated industries 
(manufacturing, retail/wholesale and banking/insurance). Although a kind of e commerce 
maturity is observable, statements about the de facto usage behavior and intensity cannot 
be made based on the underlying survey data.  
n
In contrast to the results of the global survey, German firms less often regarded e 
commerce as an enabler for entering new markets or increasing sales at an international 
level. Given the existing global market orientation, German firms were already acting 
competitively in international markets, even in the pre e commerce era. 
n After e commerce solutions proved successful, SMEs were at the forefront, implementing 
e commerce applications and are therefore important drivers of innovation diffusion in 
Germany. Although all industry sectors are well equipped, industry related differences 
remain. The manufacturing industry started from a high level of existing advanced digital 
technologies such as EDI or joint supply chain management systems. 
n The retail/wholesale industry, with its large number of SMEs, can benefit more from new 
forms of e commerce such as Internet based EDI. SMEs in this sector are able to improve 
their business processes more often than SMEs in other sectors where industry related 
EDI standards were not in place.
n The banking and insurance sector heavily invests in online business models. While most 
benefits of online banking and brokerage appears on the customer side, firms in this 
sector cannot benefit in the same way. As long as banks are not able to decrease their 
costs, e.g., by reducing the number of branches, the multi channel distribution strategy 
offers limited benefits. 
n The relative efficient usage of e commerce seems to depend directly on the strategic 
focus of firms. While strategically unfocused firms might still be experimenting with e 
commerce applications, others are already gaining benefits from e commerce.  
n SMEs as the backbone of German industry are not only able to reach the same stage of 
diffusion as large firms, but are also able to achieve commercial success. Especially in 
the retail/wholesale industry, SMEs may benefit for the first time from decreasing costs 
due to supply chain improvements and electronic transactions.
n Government and public administration as a public sector cannot be regarded as drivers of 
e commerce in Germany. Far from it, the lack of e commerce applications in the public 
sector makes electronic processes impossible for the private industry sector, resulting in 
additional manual coordination efforts.  
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