Any form of business conducted via the Internet, including online banking, trading stocks, and purchasing goods and services.
E-commerce has become a fact of modern life, with millions of people now shopping regularly from the convenience of their computers or mobile devices. Websites and apps allow users to purchase any type of product online, including flowers, pet food, electronics, and tonight’s dinner. Checking your bank statement or paying bills is now as easy as logging into your banks’ mobile app. You can even manage your cell phone plan, purchase a cable package, or change your electric supplier over the Internet.
Some traditional retailers have also found ways to integrate e-commerce with the in-store experience. For instance, you can search a store’s website, pay for the products you want, and then pick them up in the store. Other stores allow you to use their apps to find special coupons, additional information about product’s you’re viewing, and more while in their store.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there risks involved in e-commerce?
Conducting e-commerce has similar risks to traditional commerce. Anytime you provide information, be it personal or financial, you put the security of that information in someone else’s hands. Additionally, with e-commerce, you have to trust in the security of your network and Internet connection. For this reason, you should only conduct e-commerce over a secure network, and absolutely never provide your financial information when using a public Wi-Fi connection or public computer. You should also make sure that the sites you do business with are secure. For more information on safe online shopping, see our Smart Shopping and Secure Transactions guides.
What do I need to conduct e-commerce?
In order to take advantage of all e-commerce has to offer, you will need a secure Internet connection and an Internet-enabled device, such as a computer, smartphone, or tablet. If you plan on making purchases online, you may also need a credit card, as most online retailers require credit card payment. Some retailers may accept prepaid debit cards or services such as PayPal, which you can set up with an existing bank account.
How can I set up my own online store?
In order to create your own e-commerce site, you will need a domain name and web hosting service. Most hosting services offer some sort of free store front application and shopping cart service. The storefront application allows you to list items within your store, run promotions, and more. The shopping cart software allows you to track items your visitors are purchasing and handle the payment process. Some shopping cart services also include a payment processing service, which allow you accept various forms of online payment. If not, you will need to register with a payment processing service. Once your store is set up, all you have to do is find your inventory. If you don’t already have an inventory, there are online services that can provide that for you as well.