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What Is E-Commerce?

by Hana

E-commerce refers to the online sale of goods or services through merchant websites. These electronic business transactions are carried out mainly through the Internet, even if there are other types of networks in the context of a B to B (inter-company) commerce for example. What are the different facets of this form of virtual commerce? This is what we will today be examining in this article. 

Evolution of E-commerce  

Back in the 1980s, before the advent and generalization of the Internet, one of the precursors of e-commerce was undoubtedly the minitel. Since then, e-commerce has seen a worldwide democratization and reached all different aspects of our daily lives, to the point of being able to invest even on our mobile phones, which have become real payment terminals (m-commerce, another branch of e-commerce).  

It is indisputable that the development of the web has greatly benefited from the e-commerce that has been imposed and adopted because of its many attractions (no logistical problems, no paperwork, ease and speed of purchases, etc.). E-commerce has thus undeniably become an integral complement to physical commerce and even one of its growth levers. 

Types of e-commerce  

Electronic commerce operates in the following areas:  

  • Electronic exchange between private companies and government: B to G (Business to Government)  
  • Inter-company electronic commerce: B to B (Business to Business): sale of construction equipment (meters, lasers, etc.), commercial vehicles, office furniture, etc.  
  • Electronic communication between a company and its employees: B to E (Business to Employee)  
  • Electronic commerce for individuals: B to C (Business to Customer). Sale of cultural goods (CDs, DVDs, books, etc.), technological equipment (PC, electronics, HI-FI, etc.), tourism and travel (train/plane tickets, rental, etc.), consumer goods (supermarkets and online stores, etc.), printing products (business cards, commercial media, etc.), home products, clothing, childcare, music download, photo development, online service (bank, insurance, press, etc.)  
  • Electronic commerce between individuals: C to C (Customer to Customer)  

Be careful not to confuse e-commerce and e-business. If the first corresponds to the online sale of products or services, e-business, on the other hand, corresponds to the step upstream, and is used to concretize the sale of these products or services and to ensure customer loyalty.  

How does E-commerce stand out from conventional commerce?  

Companies involved in e-commerce strategies manage their business in a manner similar to that of traditional commerce. However, the ecological footprints generated by online shops are negligible compared to those of physical shops.  

Indeed, if the products sold in traditional shops must be displayed in a particular space, requiring a whole lighting, heating and presentation device, those purchased online do not require storage in specifically designed areas, since they are displayed on virtual websites. This avoids an additional increase in consumption of electrical energy, which can be harmful to the environment. 

If products sold in traditional stores require customers to travel by vehicle, with all that it entails as additional greenhouse gas emissions, those purchased online are delivered directly to customers. These deliveries are thus organized, grouped and punctual in time, especially when it comes to products sold in the same region, therefore reducing the number of vehicles destined for delivery.  

Fuel consumption is also reduced thanks to the limited number of returns of products sold online. Indeed, their storage is more controlled and risk less compensation during the transport process, provided by the supplier.

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