Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Wikipedia.
Related to e-commerce: E-business
e-commerce,commerce conducted over the InternetInternet, the,
international computer network linking together thousands of individual networks at military and government agencies, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, industrial and financial corporations of all sizes, and commercial enterprises (called gateways
..... Click the link for more information. , most often via the World Wide WebWorld Wide Web
(WWW or W3), collection of globally distributed text and multimedia documents and files and other network services linked in such a way as to create an immense electronic library from which information can be retrieved quickly by intuitive searches.
..... Click the link for more information. . E-commerce can apply to purchases made through the Web or to business-to-business activities such as inventory transfers. A customer can order items from a vendor's Web site, paying with a credit cardcredit card,
device used to obtain consumer credit at the time of purchasing an article or service. Credit cards may be issued by a business, such as a department store or an oil company, to make it easier for consumers to buy their products.
..... Click the link for more information. (the customer enters account information via the computer) or with a previously established "cybercash" account. The transaction information is transmitted (usually by modemmodem
[modulator/demodulator], an external device or internal electronic circuitry used to transmit and receive digital data over a communications line normally used for analog signals.
..... Click the link for more information. ) to a financial institution for payment clearance and to the vendor for order fulfillment. Personal and account information is kept confidential through the use of "secured transactions" that use encryption technology (see data encryptiondata encryption,
the process of scrambling stored or transmitted information so that it is unintelligible until it is unscrambled by the intended recipient. Historically, data encryption has been used primarily to protect diplomatic and military secrets from foreign governments.
..... Click the link for more information. ).
In an effort to further the development of e-commerce, the federal Electronic Signatures Act (2000) established uniform national standards for determining the circumstances under which contracts and notifications in electronic form are legally valid. Legal standards were also specified regarding the use of an electronic signature ("an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record"), but the law did not specify technological standards for implementing the act. The act gave electronic signatures a legal standing similar to that of paper signatures, allowing contracts and other agreements, such as those establishing a loan or brokerage account, to be signed on line.
Once consumers' worries eased about on-line credit card purchases, e-commerce grew rapidly in the late 1990s. In 1998 on-line retail ("e-tail") sales were $7.2 billion, double the amount in 1997. On-line retail ordering represented 15% of nonstore sales (which included catalogs, television sales, and direct sales) in 1998, but this constituted only 1% of total retail revenues that year. Books are the most popular on-line product order—with over half of Web shoppers ordering books (one on-line bookseller, Amazon.com, which started in 1995, had revenues of $610 million in 1998)—followed by software, audio compact discscompact disc
(CD), a small plastic disc used for the storage of digital data. As originally developed for audio systems, the sound signal is sampled at a rate of 44,100 times a second, then each sample is measured and digitally encoded on the 4 3-4 in (12 cm) disc as a series of
..... Click the link for more information. , and personal computerspersonal computer
(PC), small but powerful computer primarily used in an office or home without the need to be connected to a larger computer. PCs evolved after the development of the microprocessor made possible the hobby-computer movement of the late 1970s, when some computers
..... Click the link for more information. . Other on-line commerce includes trading of stocksstock,
in finance, instrument certifying to shares in the ownership of a corporation. Bonds are similar evidences of shares in a loan to a corporation. Stock yields no dividends until claims of bondholders have been met.
..... Click the link for more information. , purchases of airline tickets and groceries, and participation in auctions.
e-commercesales of goods and services undertaken via the INTERNET and World-Wide Web.
e-commerce(Electronic-COMMERCE) Selling products online via the Web. Also called "e-business," "e-tailing" and "I-commerce." Although in most cases e-commerce and e-business are synonymous, e-commerce implies that goods can be purchased online, whereas e-business might be used as an umbrella term for a total presence on the Web that includes the shopping component (see shopping cart).
Electronic data interchange, in which one company's computer directly queries the inventory of, and transmits purchase orders to, another company's computer, may also be considered e-commerce (see EDI). See m-commerce, microcommerce and clicks and mortar.
The Evolution of Mail Order
In the U.S., had the dozens of mail order catalogs and businesses not flourished, perhaps e-commerce would have had a slower start. However, starting in the 1980s, people were beginning to get used to ordering products without driving to a store or shopping mall. One phone call and you were talking to a customer service rep, even day and night in some cases. Today, certain retail outlets have resorted to offering coffee and lunch bars, educational classes and other social events to entice customers to go to the physical store.
The First "Electronic" Commerce
In 1886, a telegraph operator managed to obtain a shipment of watches that had been refused by the local jeweler. Using the telegraph, he sold all the watches to fellow operators and railroad employees and then ordered more. Within a short time, he made enough money to quit his job and start his own catalog mail order business. The young man's name was Richard Sears, who founded Sears, Roebuck and Co. in 1893.