What is it?

We are constantly seeing and hearing about electronic commerce or E-Commerce. One might ask, what is it? E-electronic commerce is the conducting of business on-line. This includes, for example, buying and selling products with digital cash and via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) as well as Internet based credit card and check transactions.How it really works?
It’s quite simple really. To understand E-Commerce all one needs to do is “Follow the money.”
E-commerce can be divided into:

  1. E-tailing or “virtual storefronts” on Web sites with online catalogs, sometimes gathered into a “virtual mall”
  2. The gathering and use of demographic data through Web contacts
  3. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), the business-to-business exchange of data
  4. E-mail and fax and their use as media for reaching prospects and established customers (for example, with newsletters)
  5. Business-to-business buying and selling
  6. Security of business transactions

E-tailing or The Virtual Storefront and the Virtual Mall
As a place for direct retail shopping, with its 24-hour availability, a global reach, the ability to interact and provide custom information and ordering, and multimedia prospects, the Web is rapidly becoming a multibillion dollar source of revenue for the world’s businesses. A number of businesses already report considerable success. As early as the middle of 1997, Dell Computers reported orders of a million dollars a day. By early 1999, projected e-commerce revenues for business were in the billions of dollars and the stocks of companies deemed most adept at e-commerce were skyrocketing. Apart from computer and network products, books (Amazon.com), gardening products (Garden.com), music on compact disks (CDNow), and office supplies (SuppliesOnline) were a few of the better-known e-commerce sites. By early 1999, even businesses that have always counted on face-to-face customer interaction were planning e-commerce Web sites and many businesses were planning how to coordinate in-store and Web store retail approaches. Meanwhile, new businesses based entirely on Web sales were being invented daily.Market Research
In early 1999, it was widely recognized that because of the interactive nature of the Internet, companies could gather data about prospects and customers in unprecedented amounts -through site registration, questionnaires, and as part of taking orders. The issue of whether data was being collected with the knowledge and permission of market subjects had been raised. (Microsoft referred to its policy of data collection as “profiling” and a proposed standard has been developed that allows Internet users to decide who can have what personal information.)Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
EDI is the exchange of business data using an understood data format. It predates today’s Internet. EDI involves data exchange among parties that know each other well and make arrangements for one-to-one (or point-to-point) connection, usually dial-up.E-Mail, Fax, and Internet Telephony
E-commerce is also conducted through the more limited electronic forms of communication called e-mail, facsimile or fax, and the emerging use of telephone calls over the Internet. Most of this is business-to-business, with some companies attempting to use e-mail and fax for unsolicited ads (usually viewed as online junk mail or spam) to consumers and other business prospects. An increasing number of business Web sites offer e-mail newsletters for subscribers. A new trend is opt-in e-mail in which Web users voluntarily sign up to receive e-mail, usually sponsored or containing ads, about product categories or other subjects they are interested in.Business-to-Business Buying and Selling
Thousands of companies that sell products to other companies have discovered that the Web provides not only a 24-hour-a-day showcase for their products but a quick way to reach the right people in a company for more information.The Security of Business Transactions
Security includes authenticating business transactors, controlling access to resources such as Web pages for registered or selected users, encrypting communications, and, in general, ensuring the privacy and effectiveness of transactions. Among the most widely-used security technologies are SSL and RSA. Secure Electronic Transactions (SET) is an emerging industry standard.Recommendations:
These days nearly everyone is claiming to be an E-Commerce/Web Development expert. I have found that very few can be trusted. Try not to deal with a middleman. They make big promises and deliver small results. Go DIRECT with an e-commerce provider. Find a provider that is preferably a large, public company with 24 hour technical support, fully staffed customer service, has SSL and RSA security, and has their own banking and transaction processing solution. This way you’re not stuck dealing with 4 different vendors who all end up pointing fingers at “the other guy” when things don’t work right.It is also absolutely critical that you find a provider that permits YOU to make you own changes to the site and user configurations. You should be given and FTP account and password so that you can go into their server and make changes to your site directly. Some providers even have a simple interface established which will permit you to make site changes WITHOUT uploading our downloading information through an FTP function.

Posted in Technology Applications, Uncategorized, Web Presence.

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