E-Commerce vs. E-Business and B2B vs. B2C Marketing


From Business to E-Business

E-commerce is the name given to the business process of selling your products, goods, and services over the Web. In its simplest form, it allows your company’s product catalog to be hosted on a Web server so that customers and potential customers can visit your site, see what you have to sell and then place orders. The majority of e-commerce sites that sell to general consumers ask you to pay for the items you want using a credit card, and so they present forms that can safely and securely capture this information, and perform automatic credit card authorization without human intervention.

Any size business can have an e-commerce strategy, from a sports club selling T-shirts with their name on, to a medium-sized business selling widgets, through to a traditional retail behemoth like Wal-Mart. Like most things where business and information technology intersect, the e-commerce strategy you are able to implement is dependent on the money you have to invest. For example, a large e-commerce company will be able to directly place orders into a supplier’s order processing system, negating the need to have a telephone operator marshalling the sales requests from merchant to supplier. A smaller e-commerce company may still have to phone in or fax their orders. A large e-commerce company may be able to afford to buy space for prime time television commercials; a small e-commerce company may only be able to buy adverts in the local paper or industry journals.

E-Commerce is Not a Fad

My friend Jon recently attended a TechNet session at Microsoft’s Customer Briefing Center and the presenter asked, “How many people have heard of Brook’s Books?” No one in the room raised their hands. Presenter proceeded to tell him that Brooks Books have been in business for about a dozen years, have a number of stores and do pretty well.

He then asked the question, “How many people have heard of Amazon.com?” Along with every one of the hundred or so attendees, He raised his hand.

Amazon.com is the “granddaddy” of an industry that’s only been around for a few years. It is famous for bringing the concept of e-commerce into the mainstream. It epitomizes e-commerce success and is, arguably, now one of the most famous retailers in the western world. Before Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Borders pretty much owned theUSbook selling market. Both of these companies now face eroding market share from a company that came from nowhere.

Whatever has happened or will happen to American book retail, one thing is for sure. The past two years have seen an incredible shift from doing business offline through tools such as voice mail, postal mail, faxes, and face-to-face meetings to doing business online. The online shift means that we lose faxes, we lose face-to-face meetings, and the postal services in several large countries are running scared. It also means we can do business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have the capability sell our products or services anywhere in the world.

What I’m trying to say is that the Internet is not a casual occurrence. It is not a “faddish technology” or something that’s just neat or cool. The Internet is a new communications platform. It can connect people and organizations together in any way the individual components require. It’s something that brings us as individuals and organizations together in new and exciting ways. The Internet will twist, turn, re-evaluate, and re-engineer every single logistic process that affects our lives.

We know a major shift is happening, so all we have to do is work out how to make the most of this wealth of new opportunity!

E-Commerce vs. E-Business

You may have heard the term e-business being bantered around and you may be wondering what exactly it is.

Well, the difference is that e-commerce refers only to the process of selling goods and services online. To determine if a business is an e-business requires analysis of other aspects of that business.

For example, if I receive an order through my online store, but I then phone up my supplier to replenish and shout across the room to a colleague to pack the item, I am not an e-business. To be an e-business, our business model re-engineering must permeate throughout all aspects of my business.

However, if I receive the order and my site automatically e-mails my supplier with a replenishment order, and then prints shipping and packing notes in my warehouse while I sit back and do nothing, then I have an e-business. OK, so it’s an oversimplification, but you get my point.

Basically, you’re an e-business when you are using Internet technologies in the majority of your business operations.

B2B vs. B2C

Business-to-Business (B2B) e-commerce is the process of selling items to another business. That too is an over-simplification. If I were to place an order with Buy.com for a new hard disk for the computer I use for my work, I have not directly been part of a B2B transaction. As far as Buy.com’s concerned that was a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) transaction, even though it was selling an item to another business.

B2B e-commerce usually suggests that there is some form of negotiated relationship between supplier and company and it’s mainly used for corporate procurement.


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