E-Commerce and the World- Wide-Web
No one knows exactly when and how people started trading with each other. Starting with hand carts to the currently used ships, airplanes, and drones, the need to trade goods has led to advancements in transportation and technology since the very beginning. Today, all of it has changed over the course of centuries, many of us now buy and sell with a new form of commerce that involves neither the traditional way of monetary items nor the conventional mode of transportation. Electronic commerce, commonly called e-commerce brings the universal access of the internet to the core business processes of buying and selling products and services. With the dawn of internet (or ARPAnet, as being called that time) in 1971, things have changed drastically since then. In the current era, a product can be ordered with just a few mouse clicks, which would arrive at our door step in a few days time. The link between e-commerce and the internet is world wide web, which may be defined as the information space made accessible via the internet, making it easy for the consumers and organizations to interact with each other.
E-commerce and world wide web complement each other like perfect spouses, irreplaceable in their own aspects. It wasn’t until 1992 that the web services became available to the common public. The number of internet users since then has increased dramatically. As per the statistics, in 2004 the total number of users were 712 M while the current numbers in China sum up to 693 M. As per Wikipedia, the e-commerce businesses may employ activities like Online shopping web sites for retail sales, participating in online marketplaces, which process third-party business-toconsumer or consumer-to-consumer sales, business- to-business buying and selling, gathering and using demographic data through web contacts and social media, marketing to prospective and established customers by e-mail or fax, engaging in pretail for launching new products and services and online financial exchanges for currency exchanges or trading purposes. Since its first arrival, retail business has been seeking out every opportunity to utilize the power and potential of the internet. The introduction of online retail shopping gives the power to the customers to compare different products using various resources. With the improvement of interaction between the consumers and the retailers directly, the websites can be made more user friendly and digitally ergonomic. Through online interaction with the consumes, products (like t-shirts, 3-D printed objects, food and paint colors) can be customized as per the customer needs and modified without any additional costs for prototyping and storage. For some companies, a prevalent advantage of using e-commerce is cost savings through simpler inventory management, administration and communication costs, order tracking, customer to support communication and integration of data with the company’s accounting system. A detailed purchase history report on consumers allow the companies to design customized online purchase deals for customers who have not bought from them in a long time or to send reminders to order specific products for customers who purchase them on a regular basis. Current online inventory reports can also aid in projecting inventory depletion and assist with product restocking information.
Another area where the use of world wide web has benefitted extensively is the business-tobusiness interactions and business intranets. The development of e-commerce has given birth to new terms such as electronic funds transfer, online transaction processing, electronic data interchange (EDI), Internet marketing, automated data collection systems, etc. They all are the spokes of the wheel called e-commerce system. Online money transfers, may it be international or domestic, encrypted data exchange, cloud storage, document automation in supply chains and logistics, have helped people around the industries to save time and cost and has increased their productivity drastically. On the other hand the components utilized business intranet like teleconferencing, internal emails, sharing data on internal servers, book keeping, etc. have changed the way businesses work on a daily basis. One more aspect where internet has created a boom is digital marketing. Cold emails, online marketing, advertisements on social media and spam mails, all of them contribute to increase in sales at a much lower cost. It has been observed that by practicing these methods, the costs incurred in marketing and also of the products have come down and the sales have increased drastically. Using this online channel, some of the companies have their business model revolving around a new concept called crowdsourcing. Another Internet-based system that many companies have implemented is electronic bidding for their products and services, where proposal bids are sent electronically instead of using regular mails or paper-based systems, which not only saves time and cost but also lets the bidder keep a track of his activities throughout the active bid period. A related area that is growing at a lightening rate is mobile commerce, more commonly known as m-commerce. With the introduction of smart phones in the twenty first century, people have the power to access all the knowledge on their fingertips. They can access the internet along with its benefits just with a single touch on their smart phones. Net banking, Online shopping, e-mails, graphic designs, video conferencing etc. all are accessible with the improvements in the field of communication. Most of the barriers that existed in the late twentieth century have been castrated from the roots.
One major concern among consumers is that of security and privacy of their personal information. Consumers want to be assured that the personal information they provide on a company’s site won’t be shared with other organizations for marketing purposes. Others are concerned about technology that tracks personal information such as web sites visited and items purchased by customers. A major barrier for consumers who still do not purchase products online is the fear that a web site may not be not secure and that their monetary or other related information can be accessed by hackers and consequently used to harm them. A common reason due to which many consumers choose not to purchase online can be because of viruses. In the past viruses were often spread by opening an infected e-mail, while these days one can be easily vulnerable to getting infected by a virus during surfing the internet. System downtime can be considered as one of the major problems associated with ecommerce sites. The downtime may be a result of system maintenance, hackers, server issues, or poor system administration and can have a negative impact on sales.
As said earlier, both world wide web and e-commerce complement each other very well. Most of the advancements in world wide web can be attributed to the breakthrough in e-commerce. To make the internet more accessible and user friendly, the technology has improved drastically in a very short period of time. The algorithms have changed and the more things can be accessed with lesser data usage and also at a much faster rate. This has led to more reliable general perception of internet. With the data collected and organized as per the customer statistics, the sites can now be customized for different geographical regions as per the common linguistics in fashion there. Social networking has a profound effect on how people look at and use the internet. News feed on the time lines, side ads, surveys, and blogs, all of them play an important role in generating awareness and making the user interface more friendly. As it seems, the future for e-commerce is very bright considering the upcoming new technologies. Online payment platforms like Paypal and Paytm are driving this race by converting the physical monetary transactions into an electronic one. Now with time, the increase in security for web based transactions will prevent the progress of traditional methods. With the advent of artificial intelligence and its subsidiaries like machine learning, the systems will become more customer responsive and accurate. The data collection and optimization through machines will improve the response with minimal efforts. McDonalds has already set up a successful chain of robots based autonomous outlets. The Customer Support services will benefit greatly. Instead of a human operator, with limited capability of handling new customer at a time and with limited resources, a system can handle many at a time with greater efficiency and have access to unlimited resources at the same time. There will soon be self-driving trucks (similar to the self driving cars today), which can deliver the packages in time without any possible human errors. The internet of things can bring a major breakthrough. Package delivery through drones (as been currently implemented by Amazon) is an excellent example to make the delivery process autonomous, reducing the possible human errors and costs. In future, there may be systems where there would be no requirement of a sales person or an investment banker. The data would be logged into individual company systems describing the criterion, as per which the systems would negotiate with each other and lock the deals without any human interference. With such a high rate of change, there may be a time where sites could be customized as per the individual user using his statistics and optimizing the data to improve he user interface.
E-commerce and world wide web are two words that complement each other really well. The eternal bond between the two cannot be broken. With improvement in technology the bond be become stronger and improve the way a person interacts with the internet. The major benefit of improvements in technology will come to the rural areas of developing countries, where the accessibility to internet is very less. With the improvement of networks and awareness among people to use the internet, the ecommerce will be revolutionized. A farmer who had to travel long distances to fulfill his basic needs, will have the power to bring them to him with a single touch. Buying fertilizers, seeds and equipment will be made easier and cheaper. We have come to a stage where e-commerce has its applications in numerous areas and the so called internet can help us to apply it efficiently. It may be observed that the world wide web has led to the entire ecommerce life cycle integration beginning from the time when a customer purchases a product inline to the time the product is actually delivered.