Connection to global markets in the internet age: the case of South African wooden furniture producers

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This article assesses the extent to which Internet connectivity and electronic commerce have the capacity to assist South African wooden furniture producers (SAWFPs) in securing improved access to international markets. The current pressures of globalisation and the challenge to direct overseas market expansion underscore the importance of e-commerce for the local wooden furniture sector. The article argues that while e-commerce capabilities are not a substitute for a systematic export strategy, they are nonetheless important for SAWFPs, as they are struggling to compete in a globalised and interconnected world that is organised around integrated trading systems and networked communication and information flows. However, participation in e-commerce by SAWFPs is currently very limited owing to a variety of factors, such as lack of infrastructure and awareness, high costs of Internet connectivity and inadequate skilled human resources. The article discusses the implications of the findings for policy.