Saturday, 25 May 2013



Electronic commerce, commonly known as ecommerce, is a type of industry where buying and selling of product or service is conducted over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks. Electronic commerce draws on technologies such as mobile commerce, electronic funds transfer, supply chain management, Internet marketing, online transaction processing, electronic data interchange (EDI), inventory management systems, and automated data collection systems. Modern electronic commerce typically uses the World Wide Web at least at one point in the transaction's life-cycle, although it may encompass a wider range of technologies such as e-mail, mobile devices social media, and telephones as well.

Electronic commerce is generally considered to be the sales aspect of e-business. It also consists of the exchange of data to facilitate the financing and payment aspects of business transactions.
E-commerce can be divided into:

->E-tailing or "virtual storefronts" on websites with online catalogs, sometimes gathered into a "virtual mall"
->The gathering and use of demographic data through Web contacts and social media
->Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), the business-to-business exchange of data
->E-mail and fax and their use as media for reaching prospective and established customers (for example, with newsletters)
->Business-to-business buying and selling
->The security of business transactions

Governmental regulation

In the United States, some electronic commerce activities are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These activities include the use of commercial e-mails, online advertising and consumer privacy. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 establishes national standards for direct marketing over e-mail. The Federal Trade Commission Act regulates all forms of advertising, including online advertising, and states that advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive. Using its authority under Section 5 of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive practices, the FTC has brought a number of cases to enforce the promises in corporate privacy statements, including promises about the security of consumers' personal information. As result, any corporate privacy policy related to e-commerce activity may be subject to enforcement by the FTC.

The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008, which came into law in 2008, amends the Controlled Substances Act to address online pharmacies.

Internationally there is the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), which was formed in 1991 from an informal network of government customer fair trade organisations. The purpose was stated as being to find ways of co-operating on tackling consumer problems connected with cross-border transactions in both goods and services, and to help ensure exchanges of information among the participants for mutual benefit and understanding. From this came econsumer, as an initiative of ICPEN since April 2001. is a portal to report complaints about online and related transactions with foreign companies.

There is also Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was established in 1989 with the vision of achieving stability, security and prosperity for the region through free and open trade and investment. APEC has an Electronic Commerce Stearing Group as well as working on common privacy regulations throughout the APEC region.

In Australia, Trade is covered under Australian Treasury Guidelines for electronic commerce, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission regulates and offers advice on how to deal with businesses online, and offers specific advice on what happens if things go wrong.

Also Australian government ecommerce website provides information on ecommerce in Australia.
In the United Kingdom, The FSA (Financial Services Authority) is the competent authority for most aspects of the Payment Services Directive (PSD). The UK implemented the PSD through the Payment Services Regulations 2009 (PSRs), which came into effect on 1 November 2009. The PSR affects firms providing payment services and their customers. These firms include banks, non-bank credit card issuers and non-bank merchant acquirers, e-money issuers, etc. The PSRs created a new class of regulated firms known as payment institutions (PIs), who are subject to prudential requirements. Article 87 of the PSD requires the European Commission to report on the implementation and impact of the PSD by 1 November 2012.


Contemporary electronic commerce involves everything from ordering "digital" content for immediate online consumption, to ordering conventional goods and services, to "meta" services to facilitate other types of electronic commerce.

On the institutional level, big corporations and financial institutions use the internet to exchange financial data to facilitate domestic and international business. Data integrity and security are very hot and pressing issues for electronic commerce.

Aside from traditional e-Commerce, m-Commerce as well as the nascent t-Commerce channels are often seen as the current 2013 poster children of electronic I-Commerce.

Global trends

In 2010, the United Kingdom had the biggest e-commerce market in the world when measured by the amount spent per capita, even higher than the USA.

Amongst emerging economies, China's e-commerce presence continues to expand. With 384 million internet users, China's online shopping sales rose to $36.6 billion in 2009 and one of the reasons behind the huge growth has been the improved trust level for shoppers. The Chinese retailers have been able to help consumers feel more comfortable shopping online. eCommerce is also expanding across the Middle East. Having recorded the world's fastest growth in internet usage between 2000 and 2009, the region is now home to more than 60 million internet users. Retail, travel and gaming are the region's top eCommerce segments, in spite of difficulties such as the lack of region-wide legal frameworks and logistical problems in cross-border transportation. E-Commerce has become an important tool for businesses worldwide not only to sell to customers but also to engage them.

Impact on markets and retailers

Economists have theorized that e-commerce ought to lead to intensified price competition, as it increases consumers' ability to gather information about products and prices. Research by four economists at the University of Chicago has found that the growth of online shopping has also affected industry structure in two areas that have seen significant growth in e-commerce, bookshops and travel agencies. Generally, larger firms have grown at the expense of smaller ones, as they are able to use economies of scale and offer lower prices. The lone exception to this pattern has been the very smallest category of bookseller, shops with between one and four employees, which appear to have withstood the trend.

A timeline for the development of e-commerce:

1979: Michael Aldrich invented online shopping

1982: Minitel was introduced nationwide in France by France Telecom and used for online ordering.

1983: California State Assembly holds first hearing on "electronic commerce" in Volcano, California. Testifying are CPUC, MCI Mail, Prodigy, CompuServe, Volcano Telephone, and Pacific Telesis. (Not permitted to testify is Quantum Technology, later to become AOL.)

1984: Gateshead SIS/Tesco is first B2C online shopping and Mrs Snowball, 72, is the first online home shopper

1984: In April 1984, CompuServe launches the Electronic Mall in the USA and Canada. It is the first comprehensive electronic commerce service.

1984: California becomes first state to enact an Electronic Commerce Act defining basic consumer rights online.

1990: Tim Berners-Lee writes the first web browser, WorldWideWeb, using a NeXT computer.

1992: Book Stacks Unlimited in Cleveland opens the first commercial sales website ( selling books online with credit card processing.

1992: St. Martin's Press publishes J.H. Snider and Terra Ziporyn's Future Shop: How New Technologies Will Change the Way We Shop and What We Buy.

1992: Terry Brownell launches first fully graphical, iconic navigated Bulletin board system online shopping using RoboBOARD/FX.

1993: Paget Press releases edition #3 of the first AppStore, The Electronic AppWrapper

1994: Netscape releases the Navigator browser in October under the code name Mozilla. Pizza Hut offers online ordering on its Web page. The first online bank opens. Attempts to offer flower delivery and magazine subscriptions online. Adult materials also become commercially available, as do cars and bikes. Netscape 1.0 is introduced in late 1994 SSL encryption that made transactions secure.

1995: Thursday 27 April 1995, the purchase of a book by Paul Stanfield, Product Manager for CompuServe UK, from W H Smith's shop within CompuServe's UK Shopping Centre is the UK's first national online shopping service secure transaction. The shopping service at launch featured WH Smith, Tesco, Virgin/Our Price, Great Universal Stores/GUS, Interflora, Dixons Retail, Past Times, PC World (retailer) and Innovations.

1995: Jeff Bezos launches and the first commercial-free 24 hour, internet-only radio stations, Radio HK and NetRadio start broadcasting. Dell and Cisco begin to aggressively use Internet for commercial transactions. eBay is founded by computer programmer Pierre Omidyar as AuctionWeb.

1996: IndiaMART B2B marketplace established in India.

1996: ECPlaza B2B marketplace established in Korea.

1998: Electronic postal stamps can be purchased and downloaded for printing from the Web.

1999: Alibaba Group is established in China. sold for US $7.5 million to eCompanies, which was purchased in 1997 for US $149,000. The peer-to-peer filesharing software Napster launches. ATG Stores launches to sell decorative items for the home online.

2000: The dot-com bust.

2001: achieved profitability in December 2001.

2002: eBay acquires PayPal for $1.5 billion. Niche retail companies Wayfair and NetShops are founded with the concept of selling products through several targeted domains, rather than a central portal.

2003: posts first yearly profit.

2004:, China's first online b2b transaction platform, is established, forcing other b2b sites to move away from the "yellow pages" model.

2007: acquired by R.H. Donnelley for $345 million.

2009: acquired by for $928 million. Retail Convergence, operator of private sale website, acquired by GSI Commerce for $180 million, plus up to $170 million in earn-out payments based on performance through 2012.

2010: Groupon reportedly rejects a $6 billion offer from Google. Instead, the group buying websites went ahead with an IPO on November 4, 2011. It was the largest IPO since Google.

2011:, parent company of, acquired by for $500 million in cash plus $45 million in debt and other obligations. GSI Commerce, a company specializing in creating, developing and running online shopping sites for brick and mortar businesses, acquired by eBay for $2.4 billion.

2012: US eCommerce and Online Retail sales projected to reach $226 billion, an increase of 12 percent over 2011.

2012: Us eCommerce and Online Retail holiday sales reach $33.8 billion, up 13 percent.



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