Bazaar at a click….(ecommerce and its applications) PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 July 2010 14:48
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Bazaar at a click….(ecommerce and its applications)
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E commerce basics, at a glance

Ecommerce is the most recent step in the evolution of business transactions. It replaces (or augments) the swapping of money or goods with the exchange of information from computer to computer.

Commerce is a communicative transaction between two parties playing very familiar roles: buyer and seller. For commerce to occur, somebody must do the selling, and somebody must do the buying, and these two some bodies must share a basic understanding of how the transaction is generally supposed to flow. Ecommerce web sites can't simply make products available to be bought (surface it, they will buy...); these sites must hold up their part of role-playing the commerce transaction laws or unmet expectations.

Considering the newness of the internet and World Wide Web, it's safe to say that nearly everyone who has purchased online gained their understanding of commerce offline. "Dirt-side" commerce transactions have structural, schematic, and semantic orders that don't fully map to the different medium of the web, and it's this gap in mapping that causes the problems users experience trying to shop online, whether the problems stem directly from usability flaws or unmet expectations. One has to be very careful right from starting a transaction stage to delivery stage as it involves trust , interest and integrity of the customers. The idea is to create a virtual , imaginary shopping mart where the consumer gets to shop in an imaginary platform, simultaneously entrusting a huge amount of trust on the seller, both quality wise and service wise. The operation should be such that the customers come back for more…..the motive behind every transaction should be such that every relationship with a customer ends up in a long term relationship.The good point about this mode of transaction is in that

  • Access to worldwide markets
  • Minimal sales costs
  • Can compete with larger companies
  • Can track purchases and use data to recommend other items to the customer
  • Can find hard-to-get items from his or her chair
  • Reduced cost
  • Automated cost-comparison available

Business to Consumer Ecommerce

While the term e-commerce refers to all online transactions, B2C stands for "business-to-consumer" and applies to any business or organization that sells its products or services to consumers over the Internet for their own use. When most people think of B2C e-commerce, they think of Amazon.com, the online bookseller that launched its site in 1995 and quickly took on the nation's major retailers. However, in addition to online retailers, B2C has grown to include services such as online banking, travel services, online auctions, health information and real estate sites.Business-to-consumer (B-to-C) electronic commerce is online retailing or e-tailing. It involves consumers shopping for and buying personal and household products. It involves merchants using electronic marketing and merchandising techniques to attract and retain customers as well as to promote products and services to them. There are many components to the b2 c e commerce:

Direct Sellers

Companies that provide products or services directly to customers are called direct sellers. These types of B2C companies are the most well-known. There are two types of direct sellers: e-tailers and manufacturers.

E-tailers:

Upon receiving an order, the e-tailer ships products directly to the consumer or to a wholesaler or manufacturer for delivery. Example: Amazon.com - ebay

Manufacturers:

The manufacturer sells directly to consumers via the internet. The goal is to remove intermediaries, through a process called disintermediation, and to establish direct customer relationships. Disintermediation is not a new idea as catalog companies have been utilizing this method for years. Example: Dell.com

Online Intermediaries

Online intermediaries are companies that facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers and receive a percentage of the transaction’s value. These firms make up the largest group of B2C companies today. There are two types of online intermediaries: brokers and infomediaries.

Brokers

A broker is a company that facilitates transactions between buyers and sellers.

Infomediaries

An infomediary is a firm that acts as a filter between companies and consumers. Individuals provide infomediaries with personal information and in turn receive targeted ads. Companies pay these infomediaries for the information that they collect

Advantages of B2C E-commerce

  • Shopping can be faster and more convenient.
  • Offerings and prices can change instantaneously.
  • Call centers can be integrated with the website.
  • Broadband telecommunications will enhance the buying experience
  • Broadly we can say about this in a line is….“Buying and selling online is here to stay!”

Challenges Faced by B2C E-Commerce

The two main challenges faced by B2C e-commerce are building traffic and sustaining customer loyalty. Due to the winner-take-all nature of the B2C structure, many smaller firms find it difficult to enter a market and remain competitive. In addition, online shoppers are very price-sensitive and are easily lured away, so acquiring and keeping new customers is difficult. The standard organisations for this are:

Standards organizations:

  • eCommerce European:
    • CEN/ISSS WS/EC consumer requirements project (lacking Convenor)
    • CEN/ISSS WS/EC guide to e-signatures project
    • CEN/ISSS WS/eTrust
    • CEN/ISSS proposed WS on personal data protection and privacy
  • mCommerce:
    • ETSI Project m-commerce
  • e-payment:
    • ISO TC68
    • CEN/ISSS WS/EC electronic wallet project
    • ETSI Project SCP
  • Data privacy:
    • ISO/COPOLCO proposals

Business to Business E-commerce

Business-to-business (B-to-B) electronic commerce covers a broad range of business activities. For example, B-to-B systems exchange business documents, such as purchase orders and invoices, between pairs of partners in a supply chain. They may implement a virtual marketplace (e-marketplaces or exchanges), wherein a single large manufacturer can consolidate the purchase of the goods that are the input to its manufacturing process from many smaller companies. Such a marketplace may enable a large retailer to purchase the goods that it sells in its stores. Or, marketplaces can become trading marts or exchanges for commodity products or the range of products of a given type or associated with a particular industry segment. B-to-B systems also automate the purchase of goods that support businesses’ maintenance, repair, and operation (MRO). B2B web applications are intended to enable or improve business transactions both inside the internet business iteself or between two or more companies. Because Business to Business ecommerce applications are generally higher volume, they tend to need a stronger web server, more cautiously written code (a failure can cause millions of dollars in losses) and must contain transactional logging on in the web application development. B2B web applications also usually manage supply and delivery of goods both to the purchaser and from the suppliers. All these factors mean you need a sturdy platform and 100% bug-free code. A small business web site can usually get by on a shared server from their ecommerce web hosting service, and the web site application does not have to account for every step of a transaction as closely as its B2B counterpart

Ecommerce sites seem to shout the message that they are trustworthy, that users need have no trepidation over purchasing from these sites, but trust derives not from assertions but rather from experience and judgment. People interact, and they make judgments and form expectations of others based on what they experience and what they surmise; it's a lot easier to decide to trust a merchant when you can speak to them face-to-face and shake their hand. Trusting a web site to deal with you fairly and deliver your merchandise, though, well, that's harder to do when you realize that anyone can build a commerce site. Ecommerce sites must work hard to build the impression of trustworthiness.

If you ask me however about comparing the two then I would say…between  business to business ecommerce: Business to Business ecommerce, or B2B, is set up to bring different online business purchasers and sellers together. If you have an online business, you are looking to purchase more than an average consumer. That's where Business to Consumer (B2C) web applications come in. B2C provides a place for Businesses to sell online to consumers looking to buy one or more of any item.

In short, it's all about the volume you are going to purchase. The great thing about the internet is that it levels the playing field for large and small internet business companies alike. So just because you have not heard of a specific B2B service, that doesn't mean it is not legitimate and profitable.

What viewer’s want in an e- commerce portal?

The designers should care to create a coherent interface, it shouldn’t look like as if the site the apparent product of somebody learning how to code HTML. The site has typos, grammatical errors, useless animation, or any of a slew of other problems that indicate that the designers or implementers don't know what they are doing?

Easy Navigation: A very important factor for an e commerce site as the portal itself is user driven so it should be user friendly! Easy accessibility of products should be there.Shoud be able to find what the user wants to buy. There should be easy search, browse and buy for the navigator.

Well if you ask me I would devise six commandments which essentially needed to be followed for a successful e commerce portal….

  1. Presentation: This is the age of packaging and Design and it should be taken into great consideration that presentation attributes connote quality and professionalism.
  2. Technology –Technology here means flesh and blood! You can’t do without an error free and efficient system as lots of trust value is entrusted in it.
  3. Fulfillment -- Clearly indicates how orders will be processed, and provides information on how to seek recourse if there are problems.
  4. Navigation -- The ease of finding what the visitor seeks.
  5. Brand -- The Corporation’s promise to deliver specific attributes and its credibility based on reputation and the visitor's possible previous experience.
  6. Seals of Approval -- Symbols, like VeriSign and Visa, designed to re-assure the visitor that security has been established. The companies that provide these seals of approval are referred to in this report as "security brands. After all its not a one time transaction , it has to be a long lasting relationship between the buyer and he seller!

More so electronic commerce requires  fast transaction of stuff plus electronic transmittance of huge amounts of trust and reassurance , that’s what is required to keep the buyer come back for more.

The Internet has little in common with your physical store. Internet users have totally free access to your information through search engines. As a site owner you find yourself in the precarious position of having to market to the search engines to get good placement in searches and to your potential customers. You purchase advertising for your physical store. On the Internet you are marketing to the visitor and the search engines.


The term brand means different things to the different roles of buyer and seller, with buyers generally associating brand with a product or service, and merchants associating brand with identity.

For the typical buyer, a brand is basically just a product identifier -- this isn't just cereal, its Cheerios. Used this way, a brand functions as a proper name, at best flagging a specific product with a name that differentiates it from the rest of the product category. This use of brand doesn't denote any judgment of quality or performance, just the characteristic of having been named.

Brand can also identify the company behind the specific product -- that's not just a hot dog, that's an Oscar Meyer wiener. This use of brand puts a "face" behind the name, so to speak, even if the "face" is the result of advertising copy and television commercials. This use of brand also says nothing of quality, just the buyer's exposure to the brand's PR and media hype.

For the typical merchant, branding is a way of taking everything that is good about the company -- positive shopping experience, professionalism, superior service, product knowledge, whatever the company decides is important for a customer to believe about the company -- and wrapping these characteristics into a package that can be evoked by the brand as signifier. The eCommerce Trust Study from Studio Archetype/Sapient and Cheskin Research defines brand as "The Corporation’s promise to deliver specific attributes and its credibility based on reputation and the visitor's possible previous experience". For a company, success means that people see or hear the company's brand and think "you know, company XYZ is the best at service, product knowledge, and generally good experiences".

We may use branding as another word for consumer awareness which means that more people are aware of its products/services, the more market the company will capture. This makes sense with the web, since users are encountering a marketplace far larger than they have experienced offline and so may become disconnected from their familiar brands.  It is hard not associate online book shopping with Amazon.com, even though other good options exist, and even though users cannot have any experience of Amazon as a real-world bookstore.

From The Point-of-View of the Buyer

Three things come into the mind of a buyer….

  1. Decision to purchase something
  2. effect to make payment for the product
  3. Assume ownership of what they purchased

Anything that interferes with these three actions is going to bother the buyer. Online shoppers seem to look for some of the following general characteristics when choosing between ecommerce merchants:

The perception of the cheapest  price.

Numerous studies show that people comparison shop online for the cheapest price (see "A Note About the Article 'Why People Shop on the Web'" below). What isn't clear is if people factor in price inflators like shipping costs or handling fees, how extensive people are in their research, or how granular people are in their appraisal (for example, do people rely on a general perception that site X is usually the cheapest place for a particular category product, or if people always look for item-level comparisons). It is not clear whether buyers actually choose the lowest price.

The perception of fewer hassles.

The different commerce "engines" or applications accommodate user expectations with different degrees of success. Logically, those sites that provide the easiest user experience for finding products and purchasing products will be the most appealing to users; anything that frustrates users becomes not just a hassle but a barrier to deciding to purchase from the site.
The perception of trustworthiness.

A user must decide to trust an ecommerce site before making a purchase, and this decision is based on a perception and judgment of the site's trustworthiness. While ecommerce sites can provide explicit cues about their trustworthiness, sites also provide implicit cues that affect the user's perception of the site. Sites often say one thing -- "trust me" -- while simultaneously giving a message -- for example, "I'm unprofessional" -- that effectively undoes this first message.

The visibility of the site.

The user's awareness of a site has an obvious effect on their potential to purchase from the site. Advertising, public relations, and media play all contribute to increase consumer awareness about a site, but none of these speaks to the quality or trustworthiness of the site. Brand is valuable, though, when the brand is recognizable as standing for qualities of the company, but the translation of real world brands to the web isn't entirely understood yet.

E-commerce is “the in- thing” because it reduces the cost of doing business. Sending a few bytes of data over a network is cheaper, faster and more convenient than sending a messenger or even making a phone call. The only hang-up here is that the Internet is very public, and very much prone to encroachments, and many people hesitate to send sensitive data over the wires where it might be intercepted by nefarious third parties. But with so many organizations excited about the benefits of e-commerce, plenty of people are working on resolving the e-security issues. So make your life easier and the shopping mall is now just a click away……

Last Updated ( Friday, 26 November 2010 09:56 )
 

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