Conducting business online. Selling goods, in the traditional sense, is possible to do electronically because of certain software programs that run the main functions of an e-commerce Web site, including product display, online ordering, and inventory management. The software resides on a commerce server and works in conjunction with online payment systems to process payments. Since these servers and data lines make up the backbone of the Internet, in a broad sense, e-commerce means doing business over interconnected networks.
The definition of e-commerce includes business activities that are business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C), extended enterprise computing (also known as "newly emerging value chains"), d-commerce, and m-commerce. E-commerce is a major factor in the U.S. economy because it assists companies with many levels of current business transactions, as well as creating new online business opportunities that are global in nature.
Here are a few examples of e-commerce:
- Accepting credit cards for commercial online sales.
- Generating online advertising revenue.
- Trading stock in an online brokerage account.
- Driving information through a company via its intranet.
- Driving manufacturing and distribution through a value chain with partners on an extranet.
- Selling to consumers on a pay-per-download basis, through a Web site.
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.
- The security of business transactions.