Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8708-0.ch010


There are many ways for a small business to interact with current or potential customers. E-commerce represents the most current communications channel which is supported by leading edge technology in the form of the Internet. The communication between a business and customer is referred to as Business to Customer (B2C). This communication may occur at various levels of interaction. At a very basic level a business web site may simply present a description of its products and services in the form of an electronic catalogue. More sophisticated E-commerce applications will conduct sales and provide follow-up services for customers. The advantages of implementing E-commerce outweigh the disadvantages. However, small business adoption may be restricted due to limitations of resources such as time, skills, and finances. The focus of this chapter is Business to Consumer (B2C). As a small business matures it will tend to incorporate more sophisticated aspects of E-commerce and pass through four stages – Presence, Portals, Transactions Integration, and Enterprises Integration.
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Electronic Commerce

The Internet is an extensive network of computer networks. Computers on local business networks can be connected to the Internet.

“The computers and organizational nodes on the Internet can be of different types and makes. They are connected to one another by data communications lines of different speeds. The primary network connections and telecommunications lines that link the nodes are referred to as the backbones. For the Internet, the backbone is a fibre-optic network that is operated primarily by large telecommunications companies.

As a network of networks, the Internet enabled people to access data in other organizations and to communicate, collaborate, and exchange information seamlessly around the world, quickly and inexpensively. Thus, the Internet has become a necessity for modern business.” (Rainer et al, 2014, p. 113)

Table 1. presents a list of many valuable properties of the Internet. Overall, the Internet creates a positive environment for businesses to extend their reach to more new customers in disparate geographical markets or to better serve current customers by providing extensive information about products and services.

Table 1.
Properties of the Internet
Mediating TechnologyConnects many individuals
UniversalityEngages the world – anyone, anywhere
Network ExternalitiesMore users increases the value
Distribution ChannelCan better serve current customers or new customers
Time ModeratorInstant 24 hour access
Information AsymmetryBoth parties to a transaction have equal access to information
Infinite Virtual CapacityAbility to serve customers seems infinite
Low Cost StandardDevelopment costs have been underwritten
Creative ModifiersFacilitates the old giving way to the (superior) new
Transaction Cost ReducerReduces cost per transaction

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