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E-Commerce is a rapidly expanding form of commerce that has become increasingly popular within the online community.
E-commerce has grown since the early 2000s. It satisfies a customer base that wants the ease of picking out merchandise from the home or office without requiring any travel, expanding customer options dramatically. E-commerce appeals to the online community, as well as customers that once shopped by catalog. Companies that built their business on catalog sales yet have not included e-commerce in their sales and mail-order strategy have come up against serious competition from online sales.
It is not only the mail-order companies which can benefit from e-commerce of course. Traditional brick-and-mortar stores, as they are now called, are being competed out of business by e-commerce platforms. Companies that have been quick to incorporate online sales, like Target, have thrived, as the mall culture has eroded.
E-commerce offers other benefits in addition to enabling customers the ease of shopping from their computers. Pretty much anything and everything for sale can be bought online, and it is less expensive for the seller than maintaining physical locations. Some customers also enjoy doing their own research on products online; reading reviews and recommendations and looking at all of the options allows customers to make more informed decisions, quickly and easily.
There are downsides to e-commerce. You can’t touch, see, or test actual products, and to some the fact that you need to do your own research instead of relying on expert salespeople is inconvenient.
E-commerce has its own unique demands. It requires customer protections, in the form of regulations on such things as taxes, copyright issues, and shipping. Companies need to be aware of international, country-specific differences in the EU, the USA, and Asia, for example. To avoid data theft, sellers need PCI (payment card industry) compliance, which covers credit and cash/debit cards globally to protect data. E-commerce also demands an increased online presence to appeal to online customers.
It is perilous to ignore the significance of online sales in today’s market. According to research by Frost & Sullivan, “the global B2B E-commerce market will reach $6.7 trillion by 2020.” E-commerce is still a growing market, having resolved many of the issues that first arose in the early 21st century by establishing regulations and practices that have served to better stabilize the virtual marketplace.
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