Understanding E-Commerce Platforms
E-commerce is basically the act of electronically selling or purchasing of goods over the Internet or via online facilities. In simple terms, e-commerce is a trade between two or more parties without the need for face to face interaction. The term “e-business” was first coined in 1995 by the World Wide Web Consortium as a synonym for electronic commerce (EC) and internet trading. E-Commerce is characterized by several features including convenience, cost effectiveness and security. These features are provided by E-commerce websites.
Convenience in an E-commerce transaction lies in its ease of access. Through the web, consumers can purchase products from any part of the world. No longer would a consumer have to travel to a local retailer just to purchase her favorite products. Instead, he/she can order what she needs right from her kitchen, bedroom or office. Furthermore, E-commerce websites offer numerous payment options that are convenient for the customers. Credit cards, debit cards, online checking accounts, PayPal and others are the most common modes of payment that are found in a typical E-commerce site.
In line with its convenience aspects, E-commerce has made business-to-business transactions much easier than they were in the past. Previously, when one wanted to buy a product, it required him/her to visit the actual store. Then he/she also needed to make his/her way through the long and narrow aisles of the physical store. However, with the help of an E-commerce site, the business-to-business buyer can select the product or service that he/she wants to buy and then proceed to the checkout section where he/she will have to provide payment information such as credit card number, name and address. As for the retailer, an E-commerce website will not only make hitcher’s task easy and convenient but also enable him/her to increase his/her customer database. Since the buyers do not have to go out of their homes, they do not have to face any weather conditions such as rain, harsh sunlight etc., which is a usual hindrance in case of traditional shopping.
The biggest advantage of E-commerce lies in the fact that it eliminates the tedious task of searching for the perfect product and then finding a proper place to display it. In fact, this entire process can be completed within minutes. Thanks to the immense popularity of e-commerce and the skyrocketing numbers of online buyers, Etsy and eBay have become the most popular sites on the World Wide Web. Etsy and eBay allow consumers to place advertisements of their products online for bidding and buying.
However, the success of E-commerce lies in the ease with which it allows the consumer and the retailer to interact. Both of them do not need to leave the comforts of their home. They can both chat online, meet each other face to face or buy directly from the website of the seller or the auctioneer. The sellers also benefit from the introduction of electronic commerce and the ease with which their customers can order online. This is because it cuts down on the expenses incurred on transportation and the wastage of valuable time as the order is processed immediately.
However, the most important advantage of E-commerce lies in its capability of providing a platform for free trade. Free trade allows both the buyer and the seller to interact and then decide on the terms of payment and shipment. For example, if an order is placed through e-commerce site Etsy, the consumer does not have to pay anything until the goods reach them.
Moreover, the consumer gets a lot of benefits through electronic commerce. Since the order comes directly from the merchant, the consumer is able to compare and contrast prices of different goods. The consumer also gets a chance to make an offer and see how the product would look like after he or she takes it home. Through this, the retailer or the manufacturer gains an opportunity of seeing how the consumer feels about his or her offerings. On the other hand, the e-commerce websites work as a medium between the consumer and the merchant.
It has been seen that there are more advantages of E-commerce. However, these advantages have been realized only after the birth of electronic commerce. As such, the E-commerce platform has to be developed according to the needs and demands of both the business-to-business and the consumer-to-consumer. It must therefore be able to satisfy both these requirements in order to become successful.