Introduction to E-Commerce
Electronic commerce, commonly known as e-commerce, eCommerce or e-comm, refers to the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks. However, the term may refer to more than just buying and selling products online. It also includes the entire online process of developing, marketing, selling, delivering, servicing and paying for products and services. The amount of trade conducted electronically has grown extraordinarily with widespread Internet usage. The use of commerce is conducted in this way, spurring and drawing on innovations in electronic funds transfer, supply chain management, Internet marketing, online transaction processing, electronic data interchange (EDI), inventory management systems, and automated data collection systems. Electronic commerce has become a buzzword for businesses over the past few years, with increased awareness about the use of computer and communications technologies to simplify business procedures and increase efficiency. Combining a range of processes, such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), electronic mail (e-mail), World Wide Web (WWW), and internet applications, e-commerce provides ways to exchange information between individuals, companies, and countries, but most important of all, between computers. More simply put, e-commerce is the movement of business onto the World Wide Web. This movement has been broken up into two main sectors: business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C). E-commerce comprises core business processes of buying, selling goods, services, and information over the internet. The e-commerce information available on the internet is huge and still growing. Unfortunately, the political structures of the world have not kept up with the internet technology, and thus business internationally presents a number of challenges. Currency conversions, tariffs, import and export restrictions, local business customs, and the laws of each country in which a trading partner resides can make international electronic commerce difficult. Many of the international issues that arise, relate to legal, tax, and privacy concerns. Each country has the right to pass laws and levy taxes on businesses that operate within its jurisdiction. European countries have strict laws that limit the collection and use of personal information that companies gather in the course of doing business with consumers. Even within the United States, the individual states and counties have the power to levy sales taxes on goods and services. In other countries, national sales and value-added taxes are imposed on an even broader list of business activities. E-commerce is already big and it is going to get much bigger. But the actual value of transactions currently concluded online is dwarfed by the extraordinary influence the internet is exerting over purchases carried out in the offline world. That influence is becoming an integral part of e-commerce.
Advantages of E-commerce
Some of the key strengths of using the internet for business include the following: 1) Open for Business 24x7 - An eCommerce site basically gives you the ability to have unlimited store hours, giving your customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week access to shop and buy items from you. Some merchants choose to limit their hours to 5 days a week, but orders can still be made over the weekend and customers can still make contact 24/7 via email, phone or fax. In addition, the costs associated with having your store open 24/7 are much less than maintaining a physical storefront or phone operator with 24/7 operation capability. You can literally take orders and let customers shop while you sleep, take vacations or from remote locations. 2) Expands Geographical or Customer Reach - As mentioned, owning an eCommerce business typically means no limits as to who and where you can sell your products. Some countries outside the...
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