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One of the key issues in e-business research is how established companies can gain competitive advantage by exploring e-business. Despite the interest in e-business applications by traditional firms, few empirical studies have been carried out to look at how ‘clicks-and-mortar’ approaches offer competitive advantages, especially from a specific industry perspective. This study investigates the key sources of competitive advantage gained from e-business applications by Chinese real estate developers and whether the value chain theory and its related theories can explain this phenomenon. By using a qualitative case study approach, the study shows that the value chain framework is useful to identify and categorize possible e-business application areas. Moreover, this categorization makes identification of key sources of competitive advantage explicit. However, this framework cannot fully explain the success of e-business applications nor the realization of intended motivations. Hence, further research and work are needed to make the value chain model become an easily-used, practical guideline for e-business implementation.