E-Commerce (electronic commerce) involves buying and selling goods and services across the Internet, rather than through traditional outlets such as retail stores. Electronic forms of trade date back to the 1960s, but it was the introduction of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s that made global trading by Internet possible and brought about the rise of the so-called “dot-com” enterprise. Although e-commerce sales currently represent only 1 percent of total commerce, they are growing at a rapid rate. Recent failures of dot-com ventures have shaken investor confidence, but industry analysts remain confident that e-commerce represents an unstoppable force for business transformation in the coming decade.
Body: Discussion and Analysis
For thousands of years, commerce has involved a buyer and a seller exchanging goods or services, usually for money, in what is known as a transaction. Buyer, seller, funds, and goods still feature in e-commerce, but the transaction is carried out over the Internet, the buyer and seller may be on opposite sides of the planet, and the buyer probably gets to see the goods for the first time only when they are finally delivered. The basis of e-commerce is therefore transaction processing, a computerized method of handling the purchase of goods and the exchange of funds from buyer to seller.
Commercial Web sites vary greatly in sophistication. For example, in Internet retailing, or “e-tailing,” the least sophisticated approach is simply to use a Web site as a catalogue, providing photographs of products and addresses of stores and perhaps a telephone-order hotline through which products can be bought directly. A more committed form of e-tailing involves setting up a site as a virtual store, completely separate from and in addition to an existing store network. Online orders may be processed by one of the existing stores and shipped using an existing mail-order network. The ultimate form of e-tailing is based on Web sites that act as virtual stores, make no use of an existing store network, and run according to entirely different business models. E-tail transactions are conducted online, and warehouses and transportation systems are set up specifically to cope with them. E-tailing is an example of business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce. The other main type of e-commerce, which is expected to be much more valuable overall, is business-to-business (B2B).
Selling goods is only one type of e-commerce. Another popular type involves selling information (“content”) over the ...