In its simplest form ecommerce is the buying and selling of products and services by businesses or consumers over the World Wide Web.
People use the term “ecommerce” or “online shopping” to describe the process of searching for and selecting products in online catalogues and then “checking out” using a credit card and encrypted payment processing. Internet sales are increasing rapidly as consumers take advantage of lower prices offered by vendors operating with less margin than a bricks and mortar store
greater convenience of having a product delivered rather than the cost of time and transport and parking of going to a store
sourcing product more cheaply from overseas vendors
great variety and inventory offered by online stores
comparison engines that compare and recommend product
auction sites, where they did for goods
E-commerce can provide the following benefits over non-electronic commerce:
Reduced costs by reducing labour, reduced paper work, reduced errors in keying in data, reduce post costs
Reduced time. Shorter lead times for payment and return on investment in advertising, faster delivery of product
Flexibility with efficiency. The ability to handle complex situations, product ranges and customer profiles without the situation becoming unmanageable.
Improve relationships with trading partners. Improved communication between trading partners leads to enhanced long-term relationships.
Lock in Customers. The closer you are to your customer and the more you work with them to change from normal business practices to best practice e-commerce the harder it is for a competitor to upset your customer relationship.
B2C (business to consumer) trading activity has been slow to take off as at first consumers had doubts about the security of credit card transactions.
Initial B2C trading focused on music CDs, software and books – items which were compact and easily shipped and where prices could be slashed once the retailer’s cut was taken out of the margin. The Amazon book store would be a good example of this. These products pushed the perimeters of the market out for goods bought on-line.
On the Internet, B2B (business to business) is the exchange of products or services between businesses rather than between businesses and consumers. Although early interest centered on the growth of retailing on the Internet, forecasts are that B2B revenue will far exceed B2C revenue in the near future.
Both PayPal and Paymate offer credit card to bank account payments. Using one of these services you can invoice a customer, they can pay on Paymate and the funds will be deposited in your bank account less a transaction fee.
Unlike a credit card merchant facility you will not have ongoing, minimum monthly fees… and the transaction fee is better than what most card companies offer small merchants. Additional these service are being backed into other ecommerce sites and shopping carts. Ebay for example uses Paypal to process some payments.