E-commerce (electronic commerce) is the buying and selling of goods and services, or the transmitting of funds or data, over an electronic network, primarily the internet. These business transactions occur either as business-to-business (B2B), business-to-consumer (B2C), consumer-to-consumer or consumer-to-business. The terms e-commerce and e-business are often used interchangeably. The term e-tail is also sometimes used in reference to the transactional processes that make up online retail shopping.
Types of e-commerce
Business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce refers to the electronic exchange of products, services or information between businesses rather than between businesses and consumers. Examples include online directories and product and supply exchange websites that allow businesses to search for products, services and information and to initiate transactions through e-procurement interfaces.
Business-to-consumer (B2C) is the retail part of e-commerce on the internet. It is when businesses sell products, services or information directly to consumers. The term was popular during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, when online retailers and sellers of goods were a novelty.
Today, there are innumerable virtual stores and malls on the internet selling all types of consumer goods. The most recognized example of these sites is Amazon, which dominates the B2C market.
Consumer-to-consumer (C2C) is a type of e-commerce in which consumers trade products, services and information with each other online. These transactions are generally conducted through a third party that provides an online platform on which the transactions are carried out.
Online auctions and classified advertisements are two examples of C2C platforms, with eBay and Craigslist being two of the most popular of these platforms. Because eBay is a business, this form of e-commerce could also be called C2B2C — consumer-to-business-to-consumer.
Consumer-to-business (C2B) is a type of e-commerce in which consumers make their products and services available online for companies to bid on and purchase. This is the opposite of the traditional commerce model of B2C.
A popular example of a C2B platform is a market that sells royalty-free photographs, images, media and design elements, such as Stock. Another example would be a job board.
Business-to-administration (B2A) refers to transactions conducted online between companies and public administration or government bodies. Many branches of government are dependent on e-services or products in one way or another, especially when it comes to legal documents, registers social security, fiscals and employment. Businesses can supply these electronically. B2A services have grown considerably in recent years as investments have been made in e-government capabilities.