What is ecommerce?

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ECommerce BasicsWhat is ecommerce

What is ecommerce?

Definition of ecommerce

For the term of Ecommerce we are using the Wikipedia definition:

"Ecommerce (also written as eCommerce or similar variants), short for electronic commerce, is trading in products or services using computer networks, such as the Internet."

Ecommerce stands for ‘electronic commerce’ and comprises the selling, exchange, distribution and marketing of products and services between an organization or person and their stakeholders. All electronic transactions are part of the digital ecommerce world. Nowadays ecommerce takes place through multiple channels: computers, mobile devices, tablets, apps etc. A lot of traditional stores try to operate ‘cross-channel’ or ‘multichannel’ with physical stores and online channels combined. For example, a consumer searches for a product online first and then visits the store in town to actually buy it.

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 for at least one part of the transaction's life cycle, although it may also use other technologies such as e-mail.

Types of ecommerce

There are several types of ecommerce:

  • Business-to-Consumer (B2C): In a Business-to-Consumer ecommerce environment, companies sell their online goods directly to consumers: the end users of their products or services. Usually, B2C ecommerce web shops have an open access for any visitor, meaning that there is no need for a person to login in order to make any product related enquiry.
  • Business-to-Business (B2B): In a Business-to-Business ecommerce environment, companies sell their online goods to other companies without being engaged in sales to consumers. In most B2B ecommerce environments entering the web shop will require a log in. A B2B web shop usually contains customer-specific pricing, customer-specific assortments and customer-specific discounts.
  • Consumer-to-Business (C2B): In a Consumer-to-Business ecommerce environment, consumers usually post their products or services online on which companies can post their bids. A consumer reviews the bids and selects the company that meets the price expectation.
  • Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C): In a Consumer-to-Consumer ecommerce environment, consumers sell their online goods to other consumers. It mainly takes place through online marketplaces. Well-known examples are Alibaba and eBay.
  • Government-to-Consumer (G2C): In a Government-to-Consumer ecommerce environment the government (which can be a country, municipality or city) offers its services online to its citizens.


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Omnichannel retailing

In today’s market it is important to distinguish yourself from your competitors, this is the only way to survive. This is why (r)e-tailers like to realize an ‘omnichannel’ organization. Omnichannel (also called multichannel or cross channel) means the same customer experience is enrolled throughout different channels. The consumer has to be king when it comes to electronic commerce. Whatever device or shopping channel a person chooses, and wherever the shopper is, the same seamless experience needs to be provided.

Omnichannel retailers use more than one channel in this customer's shopping experience. Such channels include:

  • Physical stores
  • Online shops
  • Mobile stores
  • App (on mobile, stores)
  • Telephone sales
  • Online chat


Want to learn more about an omnichannel organization? Read more: Omnichannel Organization


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