What is e-Commerce?

With the precarious nature of investments in the current economy, many small businesses are looking to diversify their points of sale, and for many a solution has been to branch into the use of the Internet to do so.

E-Commerce, which refers to electronic commerce usually conducted on the sales-end through the Internet, is a major advantage to businesses. It’s a virtual storefront with little and sometimes no rent to pay with the ability to outsource products or jobs -- thereby allowing the business owner to cut back on the many expenses associated with a physical store.

It is for these reasons, in addition to advances in Internet technology and speed, that the last decade has seen an exponential increase in online sales. Having made it on from the dot-com bubble's sense of inflation, many companies have seen how prices and services can reach a more realistic balance to supply and demand. With an ever-wider base of customers (increase in internet usage having skyrocketed since the 1990s) and higher Internet speeds allow customers to get a better sense of a product. By using secure methods of reliable payment via online banking and companies such as PayPal make most online services safe and easy to use.

It is this kind of customer service to a worldwide user base that has made many companies widely successful -- looking at Amazon.com, for example, it's easy to see the value of outsourcing products: the company will often work as a platform to sell the products of other companies, or acquire used books from various smaller dealers, for example. Now customers who can be reached from all over the globe, and don’t need to visit a particular location to acquire the product they're looking for. Think of the successful catalogue model of decades past such as by clothing sellers like Brooks Brothers or LL Bean that used mass distribution of information to sell to customers who may not have been near a physical store. It really gives you an idea of what selling a quality product via the Internet can accomplish.

Whether you're starting a business, or looking to add valuable customer service, e-Commerce can improve the lives of both customers and businesspeople that familiarize themselves with the Internet's vast potential for sales.