E-commerce (electronic commerce) became a global concept, which refers to the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to manage inter-business or inter-organizational transactions and relationships as well as to gather relevant market information electronically. 1)
Usually, e-commerce is associated with businesses conducted on the internet. In its function as an online distribution channel, it contains the buying, exchanging and selling of products, services and information on the internet or other electronic systems.2)
From a broader perspective, e-commerce is often mentioned as a essential part of e-business. It includes an extensive variation of marketing and sales activities within the value chain and its business processes. In this context, e-commerce draws on such technologies as electronic data interchange (EDI), electronic funds transfer (EFT), enterprise resource planning (ERP), online marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), data mining and data warehousing etc..3)
E-commerce activities cover interactions between different transaction partners and groups.
Since the number of national and cross-border businesses conducted on the internet has been accelerating quickly, many countries (e.g. the United States) and supranational institutions such as the Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) started to establish a regulatory framework that especially deals with online security issues, transaction (e.g. payment) processing and customer rights.5)
In Europe, the distance selling directive provides a number of fundamental legal rights for consumers in order to ensure a high level of consumer protection throughout the EU-Member States as well as the European Economic Area (EEA).6) The directive 2002/65/EC 7) had to be integrated into national legal systems by 4 June 2000.
Due to the complexity of global markets and the future technological possibilities, the importance and possibilities of e-commerce will increase continuously. For this reason, business models and industry structures across the world will change and reinvent themselves. Many companies and organizations already employ e-commerce approaches sucessfully at various levels in the transaction's life cycle.
The reduction of transaction costs through automation and the accessability of new potential customers make mass-customization attractive for big companies and allow small businesses to easier develop niche markets.9)
Recent e-commerce trends:
— Kathrin Wesselow 2012/05/07 20:06