In particular, its ability to provide information, facilitate two-way communication with customers, collect market research data, promote goods and services and ultimately to support the online ordering of merchandise, provides an extremely rich and flexible new retail channel (Doherty and Ellis-Chadwick, 2003). Indeed, online shopping is now estimated to be the fastest growing area of internet usage (Forsythe and Shi, 2003).
Given the internet's potential to radically re-configure the underlying processes of retailing, and because of the highly dynamic and innovative nature of the electronic marketplace, there has been an explosion of academic interest in the application of this new electronic phenomenon, in the retail context. It is not, perhaps, surprising that from such a highly dynamic organizational phenomenon, an equally dynamic body of literature should emerge. Moreover, because the commercial exploitation of the internet has technical, logistical, commercial, strategic, behavioral, social and legal implications, the emergent body of literature is both extremely large and highly diverse. ...
A small number of researchers have already risen to the challenge of reviewing the internet literature, and three reviews, in particular (Reynolds, 2000, Ngai, 2003) have been influential in shaping this study. However, all three have their limitations. Reynold (2000) and Ngai (2003) have both addressed the related field of internet marketing, but have chosen not to adopt an explicit retail focus, whilst the Reynold's (2000) review, which does have an internet retailing focus, is now rather dated. Consequently, the primary aim of this paper is to present a review and critique of the internet retailing literature, which seeks to highlight key themes, emerging patterns and perhaps most importantly gaps that are still to be filled. Given the growing recognition that the internet has the potential (Porter, 2001) to significantly affect an organization's strategic positioning, we were particularly interested to explore the extent to which strategic issues have been explicitly tackled in the internet retailing literature.
Al-Hidaayah is predominantly a books retailer, with interests in books retailing as well as publishing. Its principal business is the retail sale of "trade books" (generally hardcover and paperback consumer titles, excluding educational textbooks and religious titles), mass market paperbacks (such as mystery, romance, science fiction and other popular fiction), children's books, bargain books and magazines. Al-Hidaayah is the pioneer and still the leading operator of book superstores in the UK. Its flagship store on central London has been widely recognised as the most authoritative bookstore in the country, and perhaps, the world. Al-Hidaayah has a private label strategy,