Simply put, e-commerce is the online transaction of business, featuring linked computer systems of the vendor, host, and buyer. Electronic transactions involve the transfer of ownership or rights to use a good or service. Most people are familiar with business-to-consumer electronic business (B2C). Common illustrations include Amazon.com, llbean.com, CompUSA.com, travelocity.com, and hotels.com.
E-commerce can be divided into:
- E-tailing or "virtual storefronts" on Web sites with online catalogs, sometimes gathered into a "virtual mall"
- The gathering and use of demographic data through Web contacts
- Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), the business-to-business exchange of data e-mail and fax and their use as media for reaching prospects and established customers (for example, with newsletters)
- Business-to-business buying and selling (B2B)
Next: Are You E-Commerce Ready?