E-commerce is a method used to sell and buy products or services online using electronic systems such as internet, computers, online shopping carts and secure payment gateways. It serves as a link between the vendor and the buyer.
There are two types of e-commerce systems, Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C).
B2B is businesses buying, selling or exchanging products or services from each other as opposed to business and consumers. Supply chain management for a vendor, vertical industry portals and brokering websites are examples of B2B websites. E.g. alibaba.com
B2C takes place between businesses and consumers where consumers are individuals. A typical example of a company engaged in B2C is amazon.com, ebay.com
E-commerce gained popularity amongst businesses and consumers because of maximum convenience.
Advantages of E-commerce:
For businesses, E-commerce is a way to cut operating costs and expand their market reach. Businesses don’t have to market their products or build physical stores to attract buyers from all over the world. Automated order and billing systems cut labor costs. In some cases businesses selling music, movies, software or e-Books can often evade distribution costs since the product can easily be downloaded to the consumer’s computer. E.g. apple.com/itunes/whatson/
Businesses can store preferences of the consumer and suggest other products which help the consumer’s shopping experience and mean more return for the business.
For consumers it means saving time and having more flexibility and freedom to choose products. They don’t have to fight crowds of shoppers, look for parking space and they can easily compare specifications and prices from different vendors and make their choice with more ease; all from the comfort of their home.
Components of E-commerce:
Thinking of setting up an E-commerce website? Following are the chief components of an E-commerce system.
1. Website: You website will be the link between you and your prospective customers. Good packaging often translates into good quality in the eye of the consumer. Therefore to get their business your website must have the right look at feel and must be done by a professional.
2. Merchant account: Merchants accounts are critical to an e-commerce business as they support secure payments through major credit cards brands. To get a merchant account you must contact a Bank that provides them to Internet businesses.
3. Shopping Cart Software: A shopping cart works as a traditional shopping cart. The storefront maintains the products that are in stock and allows the customer to add and remove products to his cart. It automatically calculates the total of the orders making the shopping experience more convenient for the customer.
Using the Administration end of this software you can add/update/delete products or their information from the website. The shopping cart checkout is connected to the payment gateway.
4. Payment Gateway: Payment gateway serves as a point of sale terminal located at most retail stores. It ensures secure information transfer between customer, merchant and bank. The customer’s browser encrypts the personal and credit card information and sends it to the merchant’s web server. This is done via SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption. The digital signature is then forwarded to the acquiring bank through another secure socket layer.
Examples of payment gateways include authorize.Net, verisign.com, paypal.com
Trusting a company with your business is always a hard decision, Design Box has worked with several companies and created a web presence that has aided in success not only online but offline as well.