ABSTRACT

It has long been suggested that for many businesses, one of the most attractive aspects of the World Wide Web is its broad geographical reach, providing an unprecedented opportunity for products and/or services to be promoted and sold in overseas markets (Aldridge, Forcht and Pierson, 1997; Herbig and Hale, 1997; Kiani, 1998). It has been further argued that the web is, in this respect, particularly attractive for small businesses, as its use reduces conventional costs of advertising in overseas markets (Hamill, 1997), and thereby enables small businesses to ‘compete more easily in the global marketplace’ (Quelch and Klein, 1996). For those small businesses ‘offering specialized niche products’, the worldwide reach of the Internet makes it possible to find the ‘critical mass of customers necessary to succeed’ (Quelch and Klein, 1996). However, despite the apparent attraction of the web, it has also been noted that small businesses are struggling to harness the real potential of the Internet as an effective international marketing tool (Haynes, Becherer and Helms, 1998; Schlenker and Crocker, 2003).