The term “eCommerce” is short for “electronic commerce.” eCommerce is a common business model that allows companies or individuals to conduct business using an electronic network. It began as a more advanced alternative to the mail order catalog, but it has since expanded, allowing customers to make purchases in a matter of minutes and receive them in only a few days. Almost any type of product or service can be sold using this model, from clothing to HVAC repair. eCommerce businesses can eliminate the need for brick-and-mortar establishments, or they can be used in conjunction with these more traditional stores.
eCommerce first emerged during the 1960s, when primitive computer networks were used to conduct basic electronic transactions. Some of the first examples of eCommerce include the ARPAnet, which was used by the military to circulate important information, and the Electronic Data Interchange, which was used to share business documents via the internet.
Beginning in the 1980s, people who had access to computers were already able to use BITNET or USENET to share documents and send messages to one another. Chat rooms and message boards also began to emerge during this time. In 1984, CompuServe launched the Electronic Mall, which connected more than 100 online retailers to consumers with access to the internet. However, the National Science Foundation still had a ban on commercial internet use during this time, which impeded the development of widespread eCommerce. This ban was ultimately lifted in 1991.
Security was a concern in the early days of eCommerce. The Secure Socket Layer was introduced in 1994, putting minds at ease and allowing for the development of third-party credit card processing companies. During the following year, eBay and Amazon arrived on the scene.
As eBay and Amazon rose to popularity, modern eCommerce began to take shape. Amazon went public in 1997, expanding its inventory and selling everything from clothing to books. Ten years later, eBay had grown to accommodate more than 220 million users.
Today, eCommerce is specialized and highly developed, allowing consumers, businesses and even governments to find and acquire almost any product or service they need online.
eCommerce businesses are typically classified based on their target audiences. The main types of eCommerce businesses include:
Business-to-consumer companies are the most common example of eCommerce activity. These companies sell their products and services directly to consumers on a retail basis. Examples of business-to-consumer companies include Amazon.com and Overstock.com.
In a business-to-business model, both the seller and the buyer are businesses. These transactions are more likely to be wholesale in nature. Examples of business-to-business eCommerce companies are manufacturers that sell products online to retailers.
Business-to-administration is a less common form of eCommerce that involves a business and a government entity. For example, government entities often purchase online services from eCommerce businesses in order to conduct their day-to-day operations.
As eCommerce has grown, a different type of business model has emerged in which consumers sell their products or services to businesses. For example, consumers may list the details of a service they need, such as a remodelling job. Different businesses can then submit bids in hopes of acquiring the job.
Consumer-to-consumer business models allow one consumer to sell products or services to others. The most common example of this type of eCommerce is eBay.
The government doesn’t typically purchase services or products from individuals over the internet. However, individuals often file their tax returns or make payments to governments online, which is sometimes classified as consumer-to-administration eCommerce.
An eCommerce agency is a group of professionals skilled at consulting and strategy, web design and development, data analytics and digital marketing for businesses that provide products and services via the eCommerce world. In other words, an eCommerce Agency helps eCommerce businesses succeed, whether they use eCommerce instead of a brick-and-mortar store or in conjunction with one.
Just because a business moves product or services electronically does not mean the principles of said company or those employed there are experts in all things eCommerce. Therefore, for many businesses hiring an eCommerce Agency can be extremely helpful. In fact, the expertise provided by a high-quality eCommerce Agency can make the difference between you finding success or experiencing failure as an eCommerce business owner.
All eCommerce businesses are slightly different. However, they all have a few things in common. For example, most will buy or sell products or online services via the internet. They will also often employ the use of mobile commerce, utilize supply chain management, have some form of electronic funds transfer in place, feature online transaction processing, use inventory management systems and have some sort of data collection in place. Some eCommerce businesses also provide an online marketplace, deal with financial exchanges or focus on business to business features. Regardless of the type of eCommerce business you have, seeking the help of professionals via an eCommerce Agency is wise as it can only serve to make your business more profitable. This is true whether your business would fall under the consumer-to-administration, consumer-to-consumer, consumer-to-business, business-to-administration, business-to-business, or the business-to-consumer model.