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Ecommerce definition and types of ecommerce

Ecommerce (e-commerce) or electronic commerce, a subset of ebusiness, is the purchasing, selling, and exchanging of goods and services over computer networks (such as the Internet) through which transactions or terms of sale are performed electronically. Contrary to popular belief, ecommerce is not just on the Web. In fact, ecommerce was alive and well in business to business transactions before the Web back in the 70s via EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) through VANs (Value-Added Networks). Ecommerce can be broken into four main categories: B2B, B2C, C2B, and C2C.
  • B2B (Business-to-Business)
    Companies doing business with each other such as manufacturers selling to distributors and wholesalers selling to retailers. Pricing is based on quantity of order and is often negotiable.

  • B2C (Business-to-Consumer)
    Businesses selling to the general public typically through catalogs utilizing shopping cart software. By dollar volume, B2B takes the prize, however B2C is really what the average Joe has in mind with regards to ecommerce as a whole.

    Having a hard time finding a book? Need to purchase a custom, high-end computer system? How about a first class, all-inclusive trip to a tropical island? With the advent ecommerce, all three things can be purchased literally in minutes without human interaction. Oh how far we've come!

  • C2B (Consumer-to-Business)
    A consumer posts his project with a set budget online and within hours companies review the consumer's requirements and bid on the project. The consumer reviews the bids and selects the company that will complete the project. Elance empowers consumers around the world by providing the meeting ground and platform for such transactions.

  • C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer)
    There are many sites offering free classifieds, auctions, and forums where individuals can buy and sell thanks to online payment systems like PayPal where people can send and receive money online with ease. eBay's auction service is a great example of where person-to-person transactions take place everyday since 1995.
Companies using internal networks to offer their employees products and services online--not necessarily online on the Web--are engaging in B2E (Business-to-Employee) ecommerce.

G2G (Government-to-Government), G2E (Government-to-Employee), G2B (Government-to-Business), B2G (Business-to-Government), G2C (Government-to-Citizen), C2G (Citizen-to-Government) are other forms of ecommerce that involve transactions with the government--from procurement to filing taxes to business registrations to renewing licenses. There are other categories of ecommerce out there, but they tend to be superfluous.

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