Title: The quality of websites and their impact on economic performance: the case of nurseries and gardening companies in the Italian 'Mezzogiorno' regions

Authors: Emanuele Schimmenti; Antonino Galati; Valeria Borsellino

Addresses: Department of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Viale delle Scienze 13, Building 4, 90128, Palermo, Italy ' Department of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Viale delle Scienze 13, Building 4, 90128, Palermo, Italy ' Department of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Viale delle Scienze 13, Building 4, 90128, Palermo, Italy

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to examine the quality of websites and the entrepreneurial perception of the importance of the website to improve the business performance in nurseries and gardening companies adopting web-marketing strategies. On this purpose, the paper firstly analyses which structural features enable a potential website to be labelled as good; the awareness of these aspects is pivotal to define effective web-marketing solutions. Secondly, it examines whether the plant nursery entrepreneurs perceive the company website as a tool of additional sales able to increase the firm turnover. The results show that the websites are well framed and with a well-groomed design, but lacking in some essential functions able to improve their usability. Moreover, the surveyed companies give a little importance to the customer and community services; in fact, few of them have a chat or a forum. The adoption of the website as sales channel is hardly diffused. The website has stimulated sales that were ultimately transacted both via phone, fax and e-mail, and directly in firm. Lastly, almost all interviewees consider the website an effective tool to boost their company image, leading to an improvement in their economic performance, although not readily quantifiable.

Keywords: internet marketing; e-business; electronic business; Italy; Mezzogiorno regions; plant nurseries; entrepreneurship; gardening firms; economic performance; website quality; sales channel diversification; web marketing; marketing strategies; corporate image; website design; website usability.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEMR.2014.064880

International Journal of Electronic Marketing and Retailing, 2014 Vol.6 No.1, pp.72 - 87

Received: 03 Sep 2013
Accepted: 26 May 2014

Published online: 20 Sep 2014 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article