Moreover, as Proposition Two projected, SMEs play an important role for the diffusion of e 
commerce at the industry level. Due to the large number of SMEs, especially in the 
retail/wholesale sector, the benefits deriving from e commerce would not be achievable if only 
large establishments used it. SMEs have shown that they are an innovation friendly group 
implementing new technologies just as fast as large enterprises. Using the given definition of 
SME (25 to 249 employees) and large firms (250 employees and more), size does not 
predetermine the relative efficiency of e commerce usage. In each cluster both  efficient  as well 
as  inefficient  implementations and usages may be observed.  
In contrast to the size of firms, the affiliation to a special industry sector strongly influences the 
diffusion of e commerce solutions (Proposition Three). While the manufacturing industry has 
been using ERP systems and EDI standards for a number of years, as has the banking/insurance 
sector, the availability of Internet based services opens the way for automated business processes 
to be used in the retail/wholesale sector for the first time. Furthermore, the implementation of e 
commerce to improve internal as well as external processes was mentioned as having a 
significant impact in the retail/wholesale sector, while in the banking sector e commerce is seen 
as part of the current problems this sector is laboring under.
As Proposition Four indicates, there is a significant but weak correlation between the number of 
e commerce applications deployed for establishments per industry, and the perceived efficiency 
increases as provided for SMEs. The use of the rank order correlation coefficient reveals a 
monotonic relationship among ordinally scaled data. While the results are very significant in the 
manufacturing and banking and insurance industry, the retail and wholesale industry are 
insignificant in terms of internal processes and staff efficiency, as well as with increasing 
international sales. Nevertheless, the efficient use of e commerce applications seems to be 
positively correlated with the number of technologies deployed, as has already been revealed by 
the DEA analysis. 
The impacts gained, measured on a five point scale, revealed that efficient usage of e commerce 
increases with (and depends on) the increasing complexity of the integrated e commerce 
technology. Although most firms are using e mail or web advertising, the satisfaction, or level of 
impact perceived, depends on the implementation of higher order solutions. This contributes to 
the assumptions formulated in Proposition 2. The DEA analysis, as well as the four quadrant 
model, has shown that the consistent realization of e commerce applications is a necessary 
prerequisite to develop the full benefit of such applications. It may be tempting to cherry pick 
certain applications, but true benefits are gained from the widespread and consistent application 
of all kinds of e commerce technologies. The satisfaction with e commerce as enabling 
technologies relates directly to the complexity of deployed solutions. 
In contrast to other countries, the Internet and with it, the deployed e commerce solutions, are 
used as a complementary channel to distribute products and services and not as a subsidiary 
channel cannibalizing other distribution channels. Therefore, the multi channel strategy to 
infiltrate markets in Germany seems more important than in other countries included in this 

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