Business 2 consumer ecommerce refers to the process of buying or selling products or services over the Internet. Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular because of speed and ease of use for customers.
E-business activities such as selling online can be directed at consumers or other businesses. Business 2 Consumer (B2C) involves the online sales of goods, services and provision of information directly to consumers. Business to Business (B2B) refers to the online exchange of products, services, or information between businesses.
Selling online can help your business reach new markets and increase your sales and revenue gains. If you are interested in selling to other businesses, you can use the Internet to find sales leads, announce calls for tender, and to offer products for sale (either through your own website or through an e-marketplace site).
Searching for products and services online can save you time and money by allowing you to find the best prices without having to do all the leg work. You can use the Internet to find new suppliers, post buying requests or search for products and services.
The benefits of effective B2B e-commerce include lower costs associated with selecting suppliers, establishing prices, ordering, and finalizing transactions. Online trading networks can also be used to support efficient information exchange between buyers and sellers.
Business 2 Consumer Ecommerce
In B2C e-commerce, businesses sell directly a diverse group of products and services to customers. In addition to pure B2C e-commerce players such as Amazon.com, and other businesses have entered the virtual marketplace by establishing comprehensive web sites and virtual storefronts.
In these cases, e-commerce supplements the traditional commerce by offering products and services through electronic channels.
Wal-Mart Stores, and the Gap are examples of companies that are very active in business 2 consumer ecommerce.
Some of the advantages of these e-commerce sites and companies include availability of physical space (customers can physically visit the store), availability of returns (customers can return a purchased item to the physical store), and availability of customer service in these physical stores.
Business 2 Consumer Ecommerce Cycle
1. Info sharing: A B2C e-commerce may use some or all of the following applications and technologies to share information with customers: Online advertisements, e-mail, newsgroups/discussion groups, company web site, online catalogs, message board systems, bulletin board systems, multiparty conferencing.
2. Ordering: A customer may use electronic e-mail or forms available on the company’s web site to order a product from a B2C site. A mouse click sends the essential information relating to the requested piece(s) to the B2C site.
3. Payment: Credit cards, electronic checks, and digital cash are among the popular options that the customer has as options for paying for the goods or services.
4. Fulfillment: Fulfillment that is responsible for physically delivering the product or service from the merchant to the customer. In case of physical products the filled order can be sent to the customer using FedEx, UPS or other. As expected for faster delivery, the customer has to pay additional money.
In case of digital products (software, music, electronic documents), the e-business uses digital documentations to assure security, integrity, and privacy of the product. It may also include delivery address verification and digital warehousing that stores digital products on a computer until they are delivered.
The e-business can handle its own fulfillment operations or outsource this function to third parties with moderate costs.
5. Service and support: It is much cheaper to maintain current customers than to attract new customers. For this reason, e-businesses should do whatever that they can in order to provide timely, high-quality service and support to their customers.
As e-commerce companies lack a traditional physical presence and need other ways to maintain current customers, service and support are even more important in e-commerce than traditional businesses. The following are some examples of technologies and applications used for providing service and support:
- E-mail confirmation: promises the customer that a particular order has been processed and that the customer should receive the product/ service by a certain date.
- Periodic newsletters: used to give customers with the latest information on the company or on a particular product or offering.
- Online Surveys: Their results can assist the e-commerce site to provide better services and support to its customers based on what has been collected in the survey, even though online surveys are mostly used as a marketing tool.
- Help desks: provide answers to common problems or provide advice for using products or services. They are used for the same purpose as in traditional businesses.
- Assured secure transactions & assured online auctions: guarantee customers that the e-commerce site covers all the security and privacy issues. As many customers still do not feel comfortable conducting online business, the security and privacy services are especially important.