This introduction to e-commerce will introduce you to the different types of e-commerce, as well as its advantages and drawbacks.
E-commerce is all around us and has been for years, even before the advent of the Internet. Staring in the 1960s, businesses began sharing files and information with each other electronically; this was the very first form of e-commerce. Now, with the Internet, people have gained the ability to purchase goods and services from businesses and each other electronically. All these make up the different facets of e-commerce today.
Business-to-business e-commerce is the exchange and transfer of files and money between businesses and, as already mentioned, this began in the 1960s. It took hold in the 80s, though, when one standard was set for electronic transactions that allowed all businesses to connect this way.
Consumer-to-consumer e-commerce is when a person goes online and exchanges goods and services with another person. Ebay, for instance, is the original consumer-to-consumer site, with its auctions in which anyone can put up goods for sale to the site’s visitors.
Peer-to-peer e-commerce began with Napster offering free music downloads via a file-sharing system. Now there are many more sites and computer programs that operate on that model, where users share files with each other.
Business-to-consumer e-commerce is simply when consumers purchase goods or services from businesses online. With the explosion of the Internet’s popularity in recent years, this type of e-commerce has become a multi-billion dollar industry that’s only expected to keep growing.
One of the major benefits of e-commerce is the ability to compare products and shop from the comfort of your home. There’s no need to stand in line, fight crowds or pay for fuel to get to the shops – and you can purchase almost anything you could imagine these days. Websites cater to each shopper, often with customized recommendations of products based on the items the shopper browses, or has previously purchased. It’s convenient and secure, and much less hassle than driving from store to store.
No introduction to e-commerce would be complete without listing the drawbacks. Some people are unsure about the idea of purchasing online, either because they’re simply unfamiliar with how to do it, or they don’t trust that their credit card information is truly safe. Often, if they’re not familiar with the store, they might doubt whether they’ll ever receive the purchased items. And some people do enjoy the act of physically browsing through shops for a day with family or friends. Also, some types of stores do better online that others. Large purchases, where a consumer wants to be able to see and touch the items before purchase, like furniture for instance, typically don’t see lots of online sales.
As the popularity of the Internet and society’s growing familiarity with everything online increases, more people will become comfortable shopping online. And, as more people are given an introduction to e-commerce by their friends, (and even their children,) sales will continue to rise.