Looking Under The Hood of eCommerceWhile you could sum up eCommerce as being an umbrella-term for “making money on the internet,” it is really more than that.

A Brief History Of eCommerce

‘Electronic Commerce’ as it is known was around long before the World Wide Web came along. Using what was the forerunner of the internet, the ARPANET, students at MIT arranged cannabis sales amongst each other. As amusing as this anecdote may sound, it is considered the first real application of eCommerce. It goes without saying that that took place in the early 1970s.

By the early 1980s the first online shop was established, and by the time the World Wide Web launched in 1990, there was already a handful of shops on the internet already accepting credit cards.

eCommerce Today

Today eCommerce has become its own powerful industry. At its most basic it is buying a product or service via your computer, tablet or smartphone. That can range from digital content for immediate download, to goods that include shipping. In philosophical terms eCommerce is a type of ‘meta’ commerce, as much of it implies the exchange of intangible concepts for other intangible concepts. For example paying digital money for a digital product, neither of which you will probably ever hold in your hands.

On an institutional level, big companies use the internet to exchange financial data to enable domestic and international commerce. The act of exchange, mine and handle that data is an eCommerce industry by itself, while the integrity and security of this data is yet another.

The Process of eCommerce

eCommerce reflects real-life commerce in many ways, and can be understood as such: the client enters a store, desiring to buy product XYZ. He places an order with the seller or producer and pays for it. The seller then passes or ships it to the buyer.

In eCommerce steps this would occur as follows.

  • The client visits the web site, or online ‘store’ of the seller.
  • Selecting the desired product with a click, he places an order.
  • Automatically the site will ask the seller to pay for the product with his or her credit card.┬áThe client enters his information and after the site has confirm with the online banking system that the money is cleared, confirms the sale.
  • If it is an online product the buyer will receive access to download it. If it is a tangible product an order will be passed on to the seller.
  • The seller then packs and ships the product to the order address.

The procedure may vary from product to product and service to service, but in general it remains the idea of exchanging good and services over the internet using electronic devices.

The Future of eCommerce

In 1983 the state of California held hearings on ‘electronic commerce’ and by ’84 became the first state to enact an eCommerce Act to define basic online consumer rights. Since then every nation in the world has established laws to regulate it. The industry has seen ups and down over the past few years, but it has established itself as an important and viable form of global commerce.

For as long as there is the internet, there will be eCommerce.

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