E-commerce

Electronic commerce, commonly known as e-commerce, is a type of industry where buying and selling of product or service is conducted over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks. Electronic commerce draws on technologies such as mobile commerce,electronic funds transfer, supply chain management, Internet marketing, online transaction processing, electronic data interchange (EDI), inventory management systems, and automated data collection systems. Modern electronic commerce typically uses the World Wide Web at least at one point in the transaction's life-cycle, although it may encompass a wider range of technologies such as e-mail, mobile devices social media, and telephones as well.

Electronic commerce is generally considered to be the sales aspect of e-business. It also consists of the exchange of data to facilitate the financing and payment aspects of business transactions. This is an effective and efficient way of communicating within an organization and one of the most effective and useful ways of conducting business.

E-commerce can be divided into:

  • E-tailing or "virtual storefronts" on websites with online catalogs, sometimes gathered into a "virtual mall"
  • The gathering and use of demographic data through Web contacts and social media
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), the business-to-business exchange of data
  • E-mail and fax and their use as media for reaching prospective and established customers (for example, with newsletters)
  • Business-to-business buying and selling
  • The security of business transactions

Business applications

Some common applications related to electronic commerce are the following:

Governmental regulation

In the United States, some electronic commerce activities are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These activities include the use of commercial e-mails, online advertising and consumer privacy. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 establishes national standards for direct marketing over e-mail. The Federal Trade Commission Act regulates all forms of advertising, including online advertising, and states that advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive. Using its authority under Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive practices, the FTC has brought a number of cases to enforce the promises in corporate privacy statements, including promises about the security of consumers' personal information. As result, any corporate privacy policy related to e-commerce activity may be subject to enforcement by the FTC.

The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008, which came into law in 2008, amends the Controlled Substances Act to address online pharmacies.

Internationally there is the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), which was formed in 1991 from an informal network of government customer fair trade organisations. The purpose was stated as being to find ways of co-operating on tackling consumer problems connected with cross-border transactions in both goods and services, and to help ensure exchanges of information among the participants for mutual benefit and understanding. From this came econsumer, as an initiative of ICPEN since April 2001. www.econsumer.gov is a portal to report complaints about online and related transactions with foreign companies.

There is also Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was established in 1989 with the vision of achieving stability, security and prosperity for the region through free and open trade and investment. APEC has an Electronic Commerce Stearing Group as well as working on common privacy regulations throughout the APEC region.

In Australia, Trade is covered under Australian Treasury Guidelines for electronic commerce, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission regulates and offers advice on how to deal with businesses online, and offers specific advice on what happens if things go wrong.

Also Australian government e-commerce website provides information on e-commerce in Australia.

In the United Kingdom, The FSA (Financial Services Authority) is the competent authority for most aspects of the Payment Services Directive (PSD). The UK implemented the PSD through the Payment Services Regulations 2009 (PSRs), which came into effect on 1 November 2009. The PSR affects firms providing payment services and their customers. These firms include banks, non-bank credit card issuers and non-bank merchant acquirers, e-money issuers, etc. The PSRs created a new class of regulated firms known as payment institutions (PIs), who are subject to prudential requirements. Article 87 of the PSD requires the European Commission to report on the implementation and impact of the PSD by 1 November 2012.

 

Forms

Contemporary electronic commerce involves everything from ordering "digital" content for immediate online consumption, to ordering conventional goods and services, to "meta" services to facilitate other types of electronic commerce.

On the institutional level, big corporations and financial institutions use the internet to exchange financial data to facilitate domestic and international business. Data integrity and security are very hot and pressing issues for electronic commerce.

Aside from traditional e-Commerce, m-Commerce as well as the nascent t-Commerce channels are often seen as the current 2013 poster children of electronic I-Commerce.

Global trends

In 2010, the United Kingdom had the biggest e-commerce market in the world when measured by the amount spent per capita. The Czech Republic is the European country where ecommerce delivers the biggest contribution to the enterprises´ total revenue. Almost a quarter (24%) of the country´s total turnover is generated via the online channel.

Among emerging economies, China's e-commerce presence continues to expand. With 384 million internet users, China's online shopping sales rose to $36.6 billion in 2009 and one of the reasons behind the huge growth has been the improved trust level for shoppers. The Chinese retailers have been able to help consumers feel more comfortable shopping online. eCommerce is also expanding across the Middle East. Having recorded the world's fastest growth in internet usage between 2000 and 2009, the region is now home to more than 60 million internet users. Retail, travel and gaming are the region's top eCommerce segments, in spite of difficulties such as the lack of region-wide legal frameworks and logistical problems in cross-border transportation. E-Commerce has become an important tool for small and large businesses worldwide, not only to sell to customers, but also to engage them.

In 2012, ecommerce sales topped $1 trillion for the first time in history.

 

Impact on markets and retailers

Economists have theorized that e-commerce ought to lead to intensified price competition, as it increases consumers' ability to gather information about products and prices. Research by four economists at the University of Chicago has found that the growth of online shopping has also affected industry structure in two areas that have seen significant growth in e-commerce, bookshopsand travel agencies. Generally, larger firms are able to use economies of scale and offer lower prices. The lone exception to this pattern has been the very smallest category of bookseller, shops with between one and four employees, which appear to have withstood the trend.

( wikipedia.org )