E-Market Places in Saudi Arabia: Service Intelligence

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Service intelligence refers to the various techniques or strategies that companies or businesses use to obtain information on the developments in the markets they operate in (Rahul, Lakshmr & Salam 2003, vol. 3 pp. 32-52). In the context of e-marketing this information is usually obtained through online systems such as internet (Rahul, Lakshmr & Salam 2003, vol. 3 pp. 32-52). Marketing managers usually get this information through reading online books, trade publications, business or marketing journals. The information can also be obtained from online marketing databases. The main function of service intelligence in e-marketing is to provide information that would be used by businesses to improve customer services and formulate marketing plans that work (Rahul, Lakshmr & Salam 2003, vol. 3 pp. 32-52). This essay seeks to discuss how service intelligence can be used to improve e-market places as well as the factors that improve service intelligence.

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Service intelligence can be used by businesses to improve the level of their customer’s satisfaction and the overall quality of services of e-market places through several ways (Castro-Schez, Vallejo & Herrera 2010, vol.20 pp. 255-275). First, it acts as a knowledge base that informs the businesses on the various dynamics of the market. Through these knowledge bases the marketing managers are able to get information about customers’ preferences concerning specific products (Castro-Schez, Vallejo & Herrera 2010, vol.20 pp. 255-275). Consequently, the businesses are able to improve their products in order to satisfy the customers’ needs. Secondly, it facilitates the launching of new products (Castro-Schez, Vallejo &Herrera 2010, vol.20 pp. 255-275). In e-marketing the concerned businesses are able to get information about the behavior of customers. This is done through tracking the purchasing patterns of customers as well as obtaining feedback on their experiences with existing products. E-marketing involves online purchases which makes it easier to keep inventories of customers’ purchases. These inventories are used to analyze their purchasing patterns. This information will then be used to formulate advertisements or sales campaigns that are aimed at influencing the behavior of the customers. Influencing behavior is a way of ensuring that the customers develop a positive attitude towards the products offered by a company. This will help in improving the e-market place in general by positioning the products being offered as the best. Other companies offering the same products will be able to tap on the benefits of such successful campaigns.

Third, it improves customer satisfaction and the e-market place in general by facilitating the development of new products (Castro-Schez, Vallejo & Herrera 2010, vol.20 pp. 255-275). This is because it facilitates efficiency in conducting market research in a particular industry. The surveys conducted through online systems of communication have high rates of responses especially in developed countries where there is wide use of internet technology (Castro-Schez, Vallejo &Herrera 2010, vol.20 pp. 255-275). This research relates to the quality of products that are being offered, the price levels that customers will be comfortable with as well as the overall competition in the market. With this information, the businesses operating in a particular industry will be able to develop products that satisfy the needs of customers. The development of appropriate products will also facilitate effective competition that leads to innovation as firms compete for the market share. The overall effect of this is high level of customer satisfaction. In developed countries for example, the development of new products is facilitated by internet market research especially for the exporting firms (Ardura, Artola & Requena 2008, vol.3, pp.10-120).

Service intelligence in e-market places can also be used to improve customers’ experiences with firms in a particular industry and the products being offered by such firms. The information obtained through online marketing research on quality of service forms the basis of customer services (Castro-Schez, Vallejo &Herrera 2010, vol.20 pp. 255-275). This is because the information can be used to train the employees of a firm on effective sales and marketing skills. This helps them to offer excellent customer services (Castro-Schez, Vallejo &Herrera 2010, vol.20 pp. 255-275).This benefits both parties in e-market places in that the customers will get high quality services. On the other hand, the sales of the firm will increase as the customers become loyal due to high quality of service.

The quality of service intelligence in e-market places is improved by four main factors namely, flexibility of the e-market places, customers’ familiarity with e-market places, expectations of changes in e-market places and the efficiency of e-market systems. This factors are interrelated and work together to enhance high quality of service intelligence in e-market places. The specific contributions of these factors in improving intelligence are as follows.

Flexibility relates to the dynamics of the e-market place (Phan 2003, vol. 40, pp. 581-590). This is the ability of the market forces of demand and supply to accommodate the expectations of both the buyers and the sellers. Flexibility helps in improving the quality of service intelligence in several different ways. To begin with, it is easy to change market variables that determine the sales volume of a product (Phan 2003, vol. 40, pp. 581-590). For example the prices of particular products can be changed with the aim of determining how customers are likely to react to the changes. It will also help in assessing how such changes can affect the overall sales performance and the competitiveness of the business. Other variables that can be changed include discounts and special offers on particular products.

However such changes cannot easily be effected in a market system that is not flexible to instant changes. E-market places are highly flexible to changes due to the effectiveness of its communication channels (Phan 2003, vol. 40, pp. 581-590). E-marketing is mainly done through the internet with the aid of a nominated website that facilitates the marketing and sales of a product. The sellers thus interact with their potential customers through online systems. This facilitates quick sharing of information such as price changes, new offers on specific products or sales promotions (Phan 2003, vol. 40, pp. 581-590). It is also easy to get immediate feedback form customers concerning such changes. The effective communication in e-marketing improves its flexibility and this translates to high quality of service intelligence (Phan 2003, vol. 40, pp. 581-590). In the developed countries, this has been made possible through the introduction of fiber optic technology that facilitates effective and efficient internet communication (Ardura, Artola & Requena 2008, vol.3, pp. 10-120). Thus e-marketing places have improved in popularity in developed economies as compared to the developing countries (Ardura, Artola & Requena 2008, vol.3, pp.10-120).

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Expectations in the changes in e-market places are the second factor that determines the quality of service intelligence in e-market places. Online systems of communication that are used in sales and marketing in e-market places enhance the creation of effective database of information on market trends over time (Rahul, Lakshmr & Salam 2003, vol. 3 pp. 32-52). The firms in a particular industry can easily keep track on the patterns of customers’ purchases as well as their preferences. This acts as the base-line information that is used by firms to formulate their marketing strategies and sales forecasts (Rahul, Lakshmi & Salam 2003, vol. 3 pp. 32-52). Companies highly depend on their ability to predict the trends in the international markets in order to formulate effective market plans. The predications can only be accurate if the data used to make them is reliable. E-marketing enhances the availability of the much needed data to predict future market trends especially in the short and medium term (Rahul, Lakshmr & Salam 2003, vol. 3 pp. 32-52). Besides, the information is obtained directly from the customers through their feedback and this improves its quality. Therefore the ability to predict the changes in e-market places directly affects the availability and quality of service intelligence.

The third factor that determines the availability and quality of service intelligence is the customers’ familiarity with the e-market places. This relates to the level of popularity of e-market places in a particular region. The main importance of customers’ familiarity with e-market places is facilitating direct communication between the sellers and the buyers. The creation of effective service intelligence depends on the firms’ ability to directly engage their current and potential customers in conversations about their products (Movahedi, Lavassani & Kumar 2008, vol. 255, pp. 857-867). This kind of conversation enables the firms to get important insights about the expectation of customers and quality of their services. This kind of information cannot be obtained if the customers are not familiar with the e-market places through which the information is to be obtained (Movahedi, Lavassani & Kumar 2008, vol. 255, pp. 857-867). In developed countries, e-market places are particularly popular in the export sector (Ardura, Artola & Requena 2008, vol.3, pp.10-120). With the increase in the use of internet in these countries, the popularity of e-market places has greatly improved (Ardura, Artola & Requena 2008, vol.3, pp. 10-120).

Finally efficiency of e-market places is a factor that directly contributes to the availability of service intelligence on such markets. This factor is related to flexibility as discussed above in that it relies on effective communication of e-market places. In this case the two main factors that affect the availability of quality of intelligence is time and the costs involved (Van-riel, Lemmink & Ouwersloot 2004, vol. 21, pp. 348-359). The use of internet technology has lowered the cost of sharing information in e-market places (Ardura, Artola & Requena 2008, vol.3, pp.10-120). This means that the firms involved in e-marketing have access to highly affordable information about the market dynamics. The internet technology also facilitates quick and reliable sharing of information between the sellers and their potential customers (Van-riel, Lemmink & Ouwersloot 2004, vol. 21, pp. 348-359). Consequently, the much needed information about the market dynamics can be obtained within a very short time. This improves the quality and availability of service intelligence especially in e-market places (Van-riel, Lemmink & Ouwersloot 2004, vol. 21, pp. 348-359). In Saudi Arabia, the oil exporting companies mainly use e-market places to monitor the dynamics of international oil markets. The same applies to other industries in the country (Abosag 2010, vol. 28, pp. 365-373). Consequently, the firms in various industries have been able to formulate effective marketing strategies (Abosag 2010, vol. 28, pp. 365-373). This particularly explains the success of the country’s oil industry in the international market.

From the above discussion service intelligence can be described as the process through which companies obtain the necessary information about the dynamics of the markets and industries that they operate in (Rahul, Lakshmr & Salam 2003, vol. 3 pp. 32-52). This information is important in that it helps in the formulation of marketing strategies that work and thus helps in maintaining the competitiveness on the firm (Rahul, Lakshmi & Salam 2003, vol. 3 pp. 32-52). In e-market places, the creation of such intelligence is facilitated by four main factors namely, flexibility of e-market places, the expectations of changes in e-market places, the familiarity of customers with the e-market places and the efficiency of e-market places. These factors are interrelated and work together in facilitating the creation of service intelligence.

References

Abosag, I 2010, ‘Dancing with macro-boycotters: the case of Aria foods’, Marketing Intelligence and Planning Journal, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 365-373.

Ardura, I, Artola, A, & Requena, J 2008, ‘Factors influencing the evolution of electronic commerce: an empirical analysis in a developed market economy’, Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research, vol. 3, no.2, pp. 10-120.

Castro-Schez, J, Vallejo, D & Herrera, V 2010, ‘A multi-agent architecture to support B2C e-market places: the e-ZOCO case study’, Internet Research Journal, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 255-275.

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Movahedi, B, Lavassani, K & Kumar, V 2008, ‘How can B2B e-market places enhance the quality of supply chain?’, International Federation for Information Processing, vol. 255, no. 10. Pp. 857-867.

Phan, D 2003, ‘E-business development for competitive advantages: a case study’, Information and Management Journal, vol. 40, no.1, pp. 581-59.

Rahul, S, Lakshmr, I & Salam, F 2003, ‘Web services for knowledge management in e-market places’, E-services Journal, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 32-52.

Van-Riel, A, Lemmink, J & Ouwersloot, H 2004, ‘High-technology services innovation success: a decision-making perspective’, Journal of Product Innovation Management, vol. 32, no.5, pp. 348-359.

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