Even though one might not be aware of it, every single one of us, is now part of a relatively new way of doing commerce, which is called e-commerce. Who hasn’t bought a book online, or a train ticket ? That is e-commerce, also called e-tailling, or e-business. E-commerce is now a widely ubiquitous experience, used in an array of different contexts, and being called through a myriad of related buzzwords and acronyms. The characteristics of this relatively new trend of doing business, are difficult to define, as they are constantly changing, as it tries to adapt to the rapid pace of innovation happening in technology.
In this guide I aim to assemble the most important information that might be helpful when trying to understand thoroughly what is e-commerce and how to implement an e-commerce business that is tailored specifically to the mobile era.
Over this guide I will cover the following topics:
- Little History
- Implementation Options (how do I set it up)
What is e-commerce ?
In order to define properly e-commerce, it is useful to begin by understanding what is commerce first. According to Wikipedia, commerce is the whole system of an economy that constitutes an environment for business. The system includes legal, economic, political, social, cultural and technological systems that are in operation in any country. Thus, commerce is a system or an environment that affects the business prospects of an economy or a nation state
We can also define it as a second component of business, which includes all activities, functions and institutions involved in transferring goods from producers to consumer.
E- commerce stands for electronic commerce. It is referring to the new digital channel that has emerged with the technological improvements brought by the Internet. It refers to all the transactions done by customers purchasing products on-line. Another word that is used interchangeably with e-commerce is e-tailing. An interesting definition of e-tailing is the one given by Margaret Rouse: e-tailing is the sale of goods and services through the Internet. It can include business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer sales (B2C) and its revenue can come from the sale of products and services, through subscriptions to the website content, or through advertising. It is a play on the words “retail” and “e-commerce.” E-tailing is the word mostly used in India when referring to e-commerce.
In this guide, we will adopt the term: e-commerce.
Lately there has been an exponential growth of e-commerce businesses. The phenomenon is explained due to the massive quantity of users connected to the Internet both through their laptops and the mobile devices. Growing numbers of population living in countries located in Africa, Asia and South America are becoming increasingly well connected due to the mobile devices . E-commerce takes advantage of this situation, and can be considered to represent the latest trend of doing business in the network era. Such an era emphasizes a whole new set of values and skills, such as the ones of collaboration, networking, sharing, empathy and the urgent need to be technologically savvy.
Nowadays, with the help of our mobile phones, we can wasily shift between being customers or one men/women business people. Various softwares that are easy to manipulate, can help us in either buying or selling our stuff, on the various online platforms available, in a question of minutes. Nowadays, you can implement your online shop very easily. What used to take weeks to months of careful planning in the past, can now be done in a question of minutes in platforms optimized for mobile devices, such as magento and shopify.
A Little History of e-commerce
E-commerce began to be used by major corporations and smaller entrepreneurs as early as 1997 when Dell Computer suddenly reported multimillion dollar orders taken at its web site. Proto forms of e-commerce, can be found much earlier. According to the editor-in-chief of International Journal of Electronic Commerce Vladimir Zwass, in its purest form, electronic commerce has existed for over 40 years, originating from the electronic transmission of messages during the Berlin airlift in 1948.
Other earlier references to experiences with e-commerce were teleshopping, invented in 1979 by Michael Aldrich. Another curious landmark in its history, is the invention of the minitel, a pre-internet online service, produced by France Telecom, that was widely spread and used in France. With minitel you could buy a whole variety of things and have access to a lot of information. The opening of the first online store of Amazon, in 1995, is then considered to be one of the most important key moments on the history of e-commerce. In a video telling the story of the first days of Amazon, its CEO Jeff Bezos narrates funnily how their company was shocked with the quantity of orders arriving from more than 20 states, in the first weeks of its opening. They grew so quickly that they were not prepared for the success. Amazon grew immensely, becoming what is now considered to be the most important e-tailing company in the world,. The company moved from selling books to selling just about everything now.
The success of Amazon.com back in the nineties, hastened the arrival of Barnes and Noble’s e-tail site and the concerns about secure order-taking receded, as the population became used to shop online. 1997 was also the year in which Auto-by-Tel reported that they had sold their millionth car over the Web, and CommerceNet/Nielsen Media reported that 10 million people had made purchases on the Web. As e-commerce developed, it became increasingly important to develop softwares to better equip its businesses, and make the electronic experience a smooth and practical one to the customers. Various different types of softwares were created to enable online catalogs and to manage the business connected with and doing e-tailing. A new trend of such softwares are price comparison sites that can quickly compare prices from a number of different e-tailers and link you to them.
To finish a great infographic about the Mobile E-Commerce Revolution by http://tag.microsoft.com/
Maria Fonseca is the Editor and Infographic Artist for IntelligentHQ. She is also a thought leader writing about social innovation, sharing economy, social business, and the commons. Aside her work for IntelligentHQ, Maria Fonseca is a visual artist and filmmaker that has exhibited widely in international events such as Manifesta 5, Sao Paulo Biennial, Photo Espana, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Joshibi University and many others. She concluded her PhD on essayistic filmmaking , taken at University of Westminster in London and is preparing her post doc that will explore the links between creativity and the sharing economy.