Electronic commerce, also known as eCommerce, is the act of trading funds for various products or goods via the Internet. Modern eCommerce systems use web browser-based platforms for conducting financial transactions. Mobile devices, social media and emails are also used for initiating eCommerce transactions.
Most people know eCommerce in the form of web retailers (Amazon.com). That’s just one form of eCommerce, known as Business to Consumer (B2C) eCommerce.
Another form of eCommerce is Business to Business (B2B), where the transactions involve two or several businesses, such as traders, manufacturers and retailers. The last type of eCommerce is Consumer to Consumer (C2C), where the transacting parties are consumers. Auction sites, such as eBay, serve as ‘grounds’ for most Consumer to Consumer transactions on the web.
Consumers now use eCommerce to become providers of goods and services on the web. Starting an eCommerce shop, however, involves more than relying on a web hosting provider.
The eCommerce web host
An eCommerce system isn’t something you can build on your own. In fact, it’s rather complicated to build one from scratch—to the point where it’s best left to the experts. Today, many web hosting providers have ‘ready-to-use’ eCommerce systems. These systems can be installed by just clicking one or a series of buttons before it’s ready for the set up process.
Many eCommerce hosting solutions have pre-loaded software, including a catalog builder, inventory organizer, store designer, shopping cart and a payment processor. All of those elements are enough basics for most newcomers to build their own shop.
The most powerful eCommerce solutions are available for use with content management systems, such as those like WordPress and Drupal. Both CMS platforms have eCommerce plug-ins that can turn a website or blog into an eCommerce shop. BigCommerce, Shopify and Magento are eCommerce software packages used in combination with a website or CMS-based site to build a web shop.
The impact of eCommerce
According to economists, eCommerce may ‘lead to intensified price competition between retailers, since it plays a role in increasing a customer’s ability to find information about products and their prices.’
eCommerce is already making that impact in several industries, notably with bookshops and travel agencies. Over the past few years, eCommerce grew in those industries, due to the availability of their products and services across the web.
Although eCommerce may affect brick and mortar stores, nothing at this time suggests eCommerce’s total dominance over physical retail stores. Instead, eCommerce will continue to see growth alongside physical retail stores. It’s ultimately up to the market to decide whether they want to go entirely digital—or not.