30 days of Ecommerce Testing Day 1: Definition of e-commerce

Task: Look up some definitions for ‘ecommerce’, from these create and share your own definition.

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For me, e-commerce is the process of trading goods and services where information and transactional actions flow between the customer and the supplier primarily through computer software and networks and physical interaction is only required when the good is being delivered or the service consumed.

For a trade to be considered e-commerce:

  • presentation of the goods/services, means of signing a binding contract, the contract itself and information on the order status MUST be available in digital form
  • at least one means of payment MUST be available in digital form (but more traditional forms are acceptable as additional)
  • at least one means of delivery SHOULD not require the customer to pick up the goods at a supplier’s premises (but it is allowed as additional)
  • customer service SHOULD be delivered by remote means (can however include non-computer based methods such as a phone support line)
  • trading functionality MAY be integrated into a wider system whose primary purpose is not trading (e.g. paywall or subscription functionality at a content provider website, microtransactions in games)
  • the service being sold MAY be consumed offline by the buyer if the access to the service is guaranteed upon completing the digitized process (e.g. buying an e-ticket for public transport or for an event where a digital bar or QR-code is enough to verify the buyer’s right to board or to enter the venue)
  • the transaction MAY also have the form of a barter

For checking and testing purposes also non-commercial financial transactions such as donations or crowdfunding can be considered e-commerce.

Additional e-commerce fields are:

  • online banking
  • digital payment platforms
  • document flow/exchange automation
  • online marketing and advertising

M-commerce (mobile commerce) is also e-commerce.

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E-commerce, to understand lets split the words as in dumb charades e and commerce. Commerce refers to any transaction of buying and selling of any goods (physical product or service). Any commercial transaction which we have defined previously, if it has been carried out through online medium(via the internet) then it is defined as e-commerce.

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E-Commerce also known as Electronic Commerce is a type/segment of business model that allows a firm or individual to direct business over an electronic network (Internet). Electronic Commerce operates in all 4 of the major market segments such as business to business, business to consumer, consumer to consumer and consumer to business. #30daysoftesting

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Some tweets I found:



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eCommerce is the activity where the transactions of selling or buying any types of products (from clothes, tickets, make-up to services) are occurring over the internet. #30daysoftesting

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i like the simple term of the eCommerce: “It is a transaction activity where buying or selling via internet”

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Tried to keep it short and sweet:

For me E-Commerce is buying, selling and trading goods and services by using an environment/s hosted on or made accessible via the internet.

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e-commerce is in general exchanging goods or services via internet with the help of computer applications/systems.

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Ok, so I’ve clicked through the first several google results pages to try to catch up all the possible elements of the definition. The result is a list, mostly complementary, with some repetition where there are different ways of cutting through the topic. Here we go:

E-commerce (electronic commerce or EC):
* is a type of business model OR activity of buying and selling of goods and services, or the transmitting of funds or data,
* is conducted over an electronic network, primarily the internet.
* “any form of business transaction in which the parties interact electronically rather than by physical exchanges or direct physical contact.”
* is subdivided into three categories: business to business or B2B (Cisco), business to consumer or B2C (Amazon), and consumer to consumer or C2C (eBay)
* E-commerce tools include computer platforms, applications, solutions, servers and various software formats manufactured by e-commerce service providers and purchased by merchants to increase online sales.
* It can be thought of as a more advanced form of mail-order purchasing through a catalog
* comprises of: Online marketing, Online advertising, Online sales, Product delivery, Product service, Online billing, Online payments
* includes activities such as procurement, order entry, transaction processing, payment, authentication and non-repudiation, inventory control, order fulfillment, and customer support.

Little surprise there. I like the mail-order purchasing bit - it reminds me that there are other ways of looking at e-everything then the ones nerds tend to focus on.

Also, there’s a question in there that I’ll not even try to jump at right now - but maybe someone can ask someone (probably with a business background): my humanist’s spider sense tells me that there’s probably an ontological difference between treating e-commerce as an activity and a sector/model of business. The question is: is it significant? And if yes - what are the implications? Or maybe it’s all well grounded in business theory and there’s nothing important in there?

Cheers and let’s work.

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Chris, I think you and kumaran got it right by saying it’s a type of business model:

For what it’s worth business sector traditionally refers to general types of business. Wikipedia defines the primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors, and other ways to slice them:

Industry sectors typically are more specific:

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my term would sound like: e-commerce is what encompasses all transactions conducted online.

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So I’m late to the game, and since every possible definition has been posted, I thought “I wonder when the term was first used?” Which turned into “What is the history of e-commerce?”
From: https://www.miva.com/blog/the-history-of-ecommerce-how-did-it-all-begin/

Here is a brief history:

  • Michael Aldrich is credited with inventing “teleshopping” in 1979. A TV set hooked up to a computer and a phone line!

  • 1982 - Minitel - a sort of proto-internet. (Yes, the internet was already technically there, but still) The system peaked in 1991 and died 3 years after that. The article doesn’t say what this has to do with ecommerce exactly, but elsewehre I’ve read that “Transpac” was used: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Packet_switching#Transpac

  • NSF lifts restrictions on the commercial use of the internet in 1991. BOOM!

  • 1995 Yahoo is born, followed by google in 1998. They start their own ecommerce platforms - Yahoo! Auction and Google Shopping respectively.

  • 1998 Paypal

  • 2004 the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI) was formed.

Another interesting article about ecommerce history:

Of course I never got an answer to my original question, but still this was a great foray into e-Commerce!

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To give a concise definition, I’d define ‘e-commerce’ as follows:

‘e-commerce’ is the buying or selling of goods and services via the internet, be it B2B, B2C or C2C. Ideally, all transactions in this context (such as ordering, payment and delivery) are done electronically as well, except for the shipping of physical goods.