This study not only provides new theoretical grounds for studying the virtual store phenomenon, but also supplies virtual stores with a number of operative CSFs to increase the chance of consumer acceptance and remain competitive in the dynamic electronic marketplace. B-to-C EC has been one of the most fascinating phenomena witnessed in the last few years. However, like many other innovations, the practical implementation of the virtual store concept preceded the theoretical research in this area. This study partially fills this void by developing a theoretical model of consumer acceptance of virtual stores. In addition to the theoretical contribution, this research has important practical implications for virtual stores. Four out of the five proposed CSFs were supported by the empirical results of this study. Although IR was not found to significantly influence PU as proposed, the authors believe that it is due to the weakness in the measurement rather than in the conceptualization behind this link.
After a short and glorious dot-com boom, the last three years witnessed the downfalls of many virtual stores, and many surviving virtual stores are struggling to stay in business in this difficult economic environment. The five CSFs under study here help us to understand some of the factors that have contributed to the failures of many virtual stores. Some may argue that several of the CSFs here are somewhat obvious and universal across all retailers, both virtual and physical. This realization just reconfirms the lessons we have learned from the downfalls of the dot-coms: a successful business must be based on a solid business model, and the recipe for online business success is not fundamentally different from that of traditional businesses. During the glory days of online businesses, many virtual stores got way ahead of themselves by aimlessly investing in the growth of the enterprises without developing the business fundamentals such as solid business and revenue models and business and relationship infrastructure. The findings of this study reemphasize the importance of these less glamorous but vital issues.
It is recommended that firms strive to excel in these five areas to achieve strategic competitiveness when building and utilizing virtual stores. Armed with this information, firms will be able to build strategic competencies that are valuable, rare, hard to imitate, thereby creating a sustainable competitive advantage. Some recommendations for virtual stores are outlined as follows.