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E-commerce involves all the transactions that are conducted electronically through the internet. It simply denotes the purchasing and vending of both goods and services and the data or funds transmission over the electronic network. The transactions occur either between consumers, between businesses, as consumer-to-business, as business-to-consumer, as consumer-to-administration or as business-to-administration. For this reason, the term e-business is often used interchangeably with e-commerce. There are a variety of applications that are used while conducting e-commerce like shopping carts, online catalogs, email, file transfer protocol, web services and EDI. It is a tool that most businesses are trying to use to lure customers through the use of tools like the digital coupon, targeted advertisements, and social media marketing. Among the benefits of e-commerce are the easy accessibility of the goods and services, international reach and wide range of food available for the customer. This research paper is aimed at discussing the types, benefits, security as well as the future of e-commerce.
The future of e-commerce cannot be said to be certain, though some factors such as customer service, product selection and delivery time are expected to improve. The main thing that is hard to know about the future of e-commerce is how the various online transactions will be viewed by the customer. Also, what a firm needs to implement over time to be ahead of their business curve is not certain. Companies’ distinction in terms of price, interactive experience, and customer service are among the aspects included in the package of the foreseen future of e-commerce. Since online businesses will continue to face competition, the players in the market may respond by competing on price, something that may lead to a race to the bottom. Other firms may also opt for the provision of superior services across the online platforms. Also, others will focus on ensuring that they provide their customers with a very engaging interactive experience. It is therefore advisable for all the e-commerce companies to focus on the use of gaming because it creates a lasting memory, enhances brand engagement makes a brand stands out to a level of attracting new customers (What is E-commerce, 2014).
Different Types of E-commerce
E-commerce can be divided into six main types, each of them with its characteristics (Khurana, 2017). First, there is the Business-to-Business e-commerce that comprises all the electronic transactions that take between firms. Both manufacturers and traditional business wholesalers mainly operate using this type of e-commerce. Second is the Business-to-Consumer which involves an establishment of electronic commercial relationships between the final consumers and businesses. This type of e-commerce is normally applicable in traditional retail trade. The third type is the Consumer-to-Consumer which involves the transaction of products between customers. This type of transaction is done mainly through another party, which is the provider of the platform through which the online transactions take place.
Fourth is the Consumer-to-Business whose meaning is a total opposite of the traditional logic of exchanging goods and services. It involves a large crowd availing their goods and services for purchase by the people who are seeking them. An example of a platform in this type of e-commerce is iStockphoto, the market that sells images, design elements, media and royalty-free photographs. The fifth is Consumer-to-Administration type that involves all the electronic transactions that arise between the public administration and individuals. An example is the administration of taxes regarding tax payments and filing of tax returns. Finally, there is the Business-to-Administration type which covers all the online transactions done between the public administrations and companies (Thomas, 2012). This area involves a variety as well as a lot of services, especially in areas of legal documentation and registers, employment, social security and fiscal. An example of this type is the e-government.
Social media and E-commerce
It is likely that the link between e-commerce and social media will continue to grow since an average individual spend more than one hour in social media every day. Also, the number of internet shopper will grow to around 217 million soon in the United States. Social media is what is currently used by most businesses, to deliver high-quality services to customers, advertise and enhance their online presence. In future, these trends are expected to increase as new ones arise.
The social media has many roles as far as e-commerce is concerned. One of them is the paid advertisements that are administered through the social media. It is always easy to give out information about a product far and wide through the use of social media like Facebook. The reason is that Facebook advertisement has always led to positive results. According to Martin (2017), last year the amount of money earned by Facebook from advertising was more than 7 billion dollars. Currently, many brand ambassadors are investing a lot of money in paid social and the trend will keep continuing. This activity will involve finding a food number of audience on the paid social media accounts such as Pinterest, Instagram ads and Facebook ads. This paid social media around makes it easy to track the return earned from advertising and this is why most businesses are opting for it.
Another way in which the social media come together with e-commerce is through private messaging. Currently, the service of private messaging is becoming more and more popular. Apps like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are the ones whose number of users is running into billions. Because many people are currently using these apps, business will follow them, and we will end up conducting businesses through chatbots. These chatbots are personalities designed in a way that they can converse, answer questions, resolve customers’ complaints and give recommendations concerning various products. Most consumers quickly appreciate the idea and due to this businesses will have to look for more additional channels to ensure they can quickly reach the consumers.
There is also the In-app purchasing that is being used to enhanced online purchases. It has been proven to be among the most convenient ways of making a purchase as fast as possible. When one needs to buy something they have seen and liked on the social media, only one swipe will lead to it being delivered to their doorstep. Since this is proving to be effective, businesses have to start immediately the evaluation of how to sell products through the social networks, coupled with the presence of strong advertisement and easy process of purchasing. The use of social media is not important in e-commerce alone, but also in all other aspects of social life. This fact has been evident for the last several years, and the improvement and addition of new technologies like chatbots, strong tools of advertising, in-app purchasing as well as improved designs will make e-commerce bigger and easier than ever before (Sullivan, 2017).
Cyber Security and E-commerce
The internet is currently prone to more forms of insecurity such as hacking, stealing of credit cards as well as other important data from the various sites e-commerce. There are many ways that have been proven to be helpful in ensuring that one’s e-commerce site is not hacked and to reduce the rate of sensitive data being stolen. Among these ways is to choose a trusted and secure platform for e-commerce purposes. This step will ensure that the administration panel is not easily accessible to attackers since it will only be available in the company’s internal network rather than being open to the public. Using a secure connection and strong SSL to protect the data and the web is also another way (Schiff, 2015). His application will protect the companies’ as well as the customer’s important and financial information. It also prevents the rise of fraudulent purchases since the address entered online is always checked against the one saved on the credit card company’s file.
E-commerce security can also be enhanced by ensuring that the data stored on the platform is not too sensitive. It is therefore advisable to remove old data from the database and keep just a minimal amount that will not cost the company much in case of any form of interference. This idea is the best because if there is not enough data to steal, no one will even attempt to rob a database. The employees also need to be well trained on security matters to reduce any forms of fraud that may become successful. All the orders also need to have tracking numbers that will enhance a good track and record of every order sent out (Schiff, 2013). Finally, regularly monitoring the e-commerce site will help one in identifying any form of hacking or fraud and therefore act on them as fast as possible.
Benefits of E-commerce
At present many people are moving from buying good from stores to buying from the internet. The reason for this is that online transactions are always convenient and people can shop from the comfort of their houses. One of the benefits of e-commerce sites is that they provide customers with sheets of data that contain all the information and features about a product or service being offered. They can also contain ratings of previous customers and all this knowledge help the potential customers make informed decisions on whether to buy the products or not. There is also the benefit of being available through all the search engines. Many people use search engines daily to look for products that suit their needs (Martin, 2017). It is, therefore, easier to get a product online rather than to look for it in a physical store and so a company can reach more customers when it has an online store rather than by use of a physical store.
Another benefit of e-commerce is the reduced cost of managing and maintaining inventory since it is easier and cheaper to manage inventory unlike in the case of physical stores. What just needs to be done when using e-commerce is to activate a system that is responsible for automating and managing the inventory on a company’s website(Dawson, 2016). Though e-commerce, companies are also able to record as well as refer to their customer’s buying habits. In physical stores, it is not easy to analyze the buying patterns of the customers. The information about the buying patterns of customers is always useful for a firm since the firm can use it in establishing the kind of stocks it needs.
Lastly, the fact that e-commerce website is computerized makes it very competitive compared to the use of physical stores. It is also always accurate and effective and when a customer orders a product the product is delivered on time. The fact that it is computerized also makes e-commerce able to manage its inventory easily. To start an online store is also cheaper than the cost of building a new store so this also makes e-commerce more beneficial. Also, it requires minimal permit and licenses to put up the store and start running it, and there is no need to rent a physical store. There is also the fact that it needs low labour costs since only a few employees are needed. In general, online stores are easier and cheaper to run than physical stores; it thus generates more profits for business.
The Future of E-commerce
Currently, there are many ongoing developments that are aimed at enhancing the growth of the e-commerce sector. Companies are no longer just focused on online selling of nice and quality products, but they are trying to make shopping a good experience for the customers. Among the developments are among the creation of new markets, producing products that meet the expectations of customers, plug into unexplored terrains and provide services that are round the clock. Since companies are always looking for ways to grow and transform the e-commerce landscape, it is a good idea to keep an updated track of the recent trends in this sector (Martin, 2017). Having a good record of trends is a good ticket of competing well in the market. These trends include a compelling content, customer fragmentation, fast delivery and social commerce.
E-commerce is undoubtedly a very profitable venture, though one cannot be able to make all the profits overnight. To succeed in this venture, one needs to do a lot of research, work hard, make the best business decisions, ask questions and not entertain any form of idling. There is also need to ensure that all the technical elements that enhance the security of e-commerce are in place. When e-commerce security is assured, the transactions are safe for both the seller and the buyer. This safety will enhance a large entry on e-commerce retailing and increase the amounts of profits made.
E-commerce will absolutely improve in future since most people have realized that it is a good idea. Also, individuals have been trained on how to ensure the presence of cybersecurity. Concerning the benefits of e-commerce, it has been realized that it has several advantages compared to disadvantages. E-commerce also involves taking advantage of the popularity of social media accounts by using them to advertise as well as inform potential customers about the goods and services that companies are offering. The fact that there are several types of e-commerce makes it very difficult and hard to avoid using in in retailing. All these will work together to improve the participation on e-commerce retailing by several people. For this reason, e-commerce is not expected to reduce by will go on improving in the future. It will as well transform the future and make all the retailing processes cheaper and easier.
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