E-commerce is a word to describe buying and selling online, using technology like computers or mobile devices. It can refer to transactions over email, social media, websites, and any other software or applications.
Business-to-business e-commerce refers to e-commerce between two different businesses, without any final customers involved. A producer selling to a distributor is one typical example of B2B e-commerce, because the buyer purchases the product in order to resell it.
Types of B2B e-commerce include:
- E-distributors: online businesses that provide goods and services directly to companies
- E-procurement: a digital marketplace where buyers and suppliers can engage in sales transactions
- Exchange: a marketplace focused on serving one vertical market, such as the steel market or the chemical market
B2C refers to a business selling a product or service to the final customer, online or offline. This form of e-commerce is the most well-known, with more and more online shops opening every day, selling everything from computers and software to shoes, clothes, and food.
This form of e-commerce refers to direct transactions between customers. Typically, the transactions take place through a third-party platform. One example is eBay, an online auction site where an individual can list items for sale and other individuals can purchase them. In this case, the buyer and seller deal directly with each other and the site charges a commission on the sale. Both the sellers and buyers are considered “customers” of the site itself.
Business-to-Government (B2G) and Business-to-Administration (B2A)
B2G or B2A is the name for transactions between companies and governments, or between companies and public administrations, including procurement. B2G may also include providing paid access to online applications and databases for use by government agencies.
G2B transactions are non-commercial online interactions between government at any level and commercial businesses. Some typical examples would be running a website that provides information about government legislation, or providing online help to businesses seeking government permits.
Internet banking is a system that enables customers of a bank or other financial institution to conduct most of its financial transactions through the bank’s website or mobile app. Customers no longer have to go into a bank branch. Any customer with internet access can obtain account balances, transfer money, pay bills, stop payment on a cheque, advise of a change of address, and many other tasks. Most banks enable customers to download copies of bank statements or download transactions directly into other accounting software such as QuickBooks.
Online Shopping and Order Tracking
Online shopping allows customers to purchase products directly on the internet. Customers can search for and compare products, place an order, and complete transactions with methods of payment such as a credit card, PayPal, or cash on delivery. Customers can shop online using most computers and mobile devices.
A shopping cart is a piece of software installed on an online shopping website that enables customers to easily add many items to an order, review the order, change quantities, and more. It will even store an uncompleted order for customers who leave the website and come back days or weeks later. Shopping carts are an important tool for e-commerce because they greatly increase the volume of sales.
Similar to buying products online, you can also purchase services. Many online services are available to purchase online, including outsourced office work, data entry, accounting, errands, tourism services, and more. A common example is online hotel booking, in which a customer can book a hotel room via sites such as Agoda.com or Booking.com.
Electronic tickets, or e-tickets, are the digital equivalent to paper tickets and are rapidly replacing paper. E-tickets can be purchased online for many purposes, such as air or train travel, concerts and theatre shows, or business events like conferences, networking events, and expos.
Online Office Suites
Online office suites provide software in a web browser or app to replace computer-based software like Microsoft Office. This software can be accessed online from any internet-connected devices, and can facilitate live collaboration on shared documents. This makes it easy to work together with a global team at any time. One example is Google Drive, which provides word-processing documents, spreadsheets, presentation slides, forms, maps, and more.
Teleconference, Online Conference, or Video Call
These applications connect several people remotely with voice or video, and some include screen sharing so participants can see a shared document. To use these systems, your computer or mobile device must have a camera and microphone. There are many teleconferencing systems available. Simple systems like Google Hangouts or Skype will work on a mobile device or computer. A desktop application such as Zoom or Cisco WebEx will work only between computers. More complex systems are available that use specialized video cameras, projectors, phone systems, and dedicated control hardware, which enables teleconferencing with no computers involved
Automated Online Assistant or Digital Assistant
Online digital assistant applications are based on an artificial intelligence platform. A digital assistant is like an employee who can work continuously with no complaints, but can only perform the specific tasks it was designed to do. There are digital assistants that can book travel or purchase tickets, search reference information and answer questions, and more. One common example is the customer service assistant. When a customer accesses a company’s website, or clicks “contact customer service,” the customer is offered a chat window. The customer can type a question and the digital assistant will reply instantly, as long as the question and answer have been preprogrammed into the assistant software.
Open Source E-commerce Software
If your business is intending to sell services or products online directly, rather than through a distributor, you will need to have a fully functional e-commerce website, including a shopping cart, secure payment processing, customer service, and more. Building a website like this can be expensive. If the available software is too expensive for your business, open source software may be a more affordable solution.
Magento is one of the big names in e-commerce software, providing businesses with solutions by business need or by industry.
- It offers flexibility to customize and extend platforms to create unique, differentiated branded experiences.
- It allows your business to adapt and stay ahead of changing customer buying patterns.
- It provides trained and certified experts through the Magento Solution Partner Program to help businesses get to market fast, create amazing customer experiences, and sell more.
- Although open source Magento is free, businesses need to pay for access to payment processing, domain names, and a security certificate.
- Magento is quite complicated and difficult for beginners to use. Professional Magento consultants can be hired to do the setup or train staff in using Magento, but this adds an additional cost.
Similar to Magento, OpenCart is free and open source software that provides businesses with powerful e-commerce solutions to create an online store.
- It’s free, and easy to use and customize.
- There is a Vietnamese version.
- A large community uses this software, so it is easy to find support and answers to your questions.
- It requires basic coding knowledge.
Prestashop is an open source platform with more than 270,000 running e-commerce sites. It has comprehensive product features for small, medium, and large e-commerce stores.
- It’s flexible and easy to use.
- It does not require users to know about coding.
- It provides users with online training courses to get all necessary e-commerce skills.
- When this platform updates, users have to re-customize their sites.
- There is not yet a Vietnamese version.
Powering over 28% of all online stores, WooCommerce is the most popular e-commerce platform on the web. It is not a fully open source e-commerce solution, but rather an open source WordPress shopping cart plug-in.
- It works well on mobile devices.
- It has easily extended features, from selling one product to thousands of products, from one order to hundreds of stores.
- The one-page checkout process makes payment easy for customers.
- It provides secure payment processing.
- It offers high-capacity data storage.
- Payment is required for extended features.
- It takes time to learn for those who are not experienced with WordPress. However, you can teach yourself online by searching on Google or reading sites like WPbeginner.com, john.do, or copyblogger.com.