An investigation into the adoption and implementation of an online business network platform for the printing industry and the associated benefits
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The study sought to assess the feasibility of adopting and implementing of online business platform for the printing industry in Zimbabwe. Most of the Zimbabwean printing companies have successfully employed a host of marketing and operational strategies to target various types of customers and improve business performance Literature review and the study highlighted that there numerous benefits of adopting online platforms for companies in the printing industry. Companies adopting online business network platform are likely to be more competitive and their operational costs are reduced. The research adopted a phenomenological research philosophy. An interview guide was used to carry out fifteen in-depth interviews with the management of printing companies. These established that printing companies benefit from online printing platform through brand visibility, ability to attract the attention of potential customers, instant response to industrial developments, technical forums, cheaper ways of doing business-in terms of advertising and running promotions, boost of online sales, improved customer service and effective feedback, customer loyalty is enhanced, experience sharing on the platform, new business development, data management improvement, work related research, staff training and development, online payments via credit and debit cards, e-transactions from adopting online business network. The challenges of adopting online business network were found to be among others cyber crime, closed operating system for printers (guerilla marketing and gamesmanship to gain competitive advantage). Poor government support and poor IT infrastructure, lack of financial resources for setting up the network, security issues on the internet, and ability of businesses to get a return on investment were some of the concerns. Expertise is also required in the implementation and adoption of online business network. The government must support the printing industry by ensuring that IT equipment are subsidised to make them affordable. An area of further study is recommended, is to investigate the effect of government intervention in the development of the printing industry in Zimbabwe and the regulation of unethical conduct by mushrooming fly by night printers.