Every where you look, electronic commerce, or e-commerce, is the buzzword of the day. Ten years ago, mail-order catalogs all the rage. Now we have this new medium in the Internet for transacting business. And that wood “business” may be the most critical aspect of what e-commerce is all about.
Most people think of e-commerce as shopping online. That is typically called consumer-to-business (C-to-B) e-commerce. That is your traditional retail or storefront type of business. On the Web today that would include such sites as Martha Stewart (http://www.marthastewart.com), Amazon (http://www.amazon.com), and many others. For companies like Dell Computers (http://www.dell.com), their Web sites are beginning to equal their more traditional retail channels in sales volume. There is no doubt that sites like these are gaining critical market space and will continue to grow.
E-Commerce also includes the business-to-business (B-to-B) market space, which accounts for a significant amount of activity on the Internet. Just think of all the supply chain purchasing that takes place to manufacture and support many of the products and services we use every day! Examples of B-to-B e-Commerce include wholesales companies selling to end retailers – for example, a PC manufacturer selling to distributors and large retailers. As B-to-B commerce grows, businesses will come to rely on this type of e-commerce as an every day business solution. That favorite restaurant down the corner will probably purchase from different suppliers using this technology, as will your local grocery store, bookshop, and other traditional business. The day will come when the Internet will be a standard place for business to communicate with other businesses, and that day is just around the corner.