Electronic commerce (e-commerce) describes all economic activities and transactions supported by computers and networks.
The term therefore also includes processes within a company, but it is sometimes narrowed down to transactions. Then e-commerce is understood to mean the exchange of information and trading in products and services carried out by computers and networks, the so-called online shopping.
Disintermediation is fundamental for e-commerce, that is, the transition from integrated value creation to network structures and the alignment of business processes with the customer process. This disintegration and the associated limitation of the depth of service is justified with the concentration on the company's core competencies.
Electronic markets create advantages, especially in highly fragmented markets, in that they facilitate the procurement of information as well as the product and price comparison and thus replace intermediation by middlemen.90 In this way, producers can sell directly to end customers via the Internet without further sales partners.
Often, however, established structures and the self-interests of the intermediaries prevent complete disintermediation. Some intermediaries try to take advantage of the development for themselves by putting together complete solutions in a certain segment from individual services from various providers.
Alignment with the customer process requires providers to radically restructure and computerize their business processes (for example through business process reengineering). The aim is to create customer proximity through optimal satisfaction of needs, through the individualization of market services and through accelerated business processes.
An increasing deconstruction of the classic value chain from the procurement markets to the sales markets can be observed. In other words: where production used to be the most interesting part of value creation, today it is often the customer relationship. If a company involves other, independent companies in the creation of its market services, networks of companies, so-called business networks, are created.
Elektronische Märkte werden oft im Auktionsverfahren gestaltet. Gerade bei Auktionen beweist das Internet als Informations- und Transaktionsmedium Stärken. supply and demand können nahezu ohne Zeitverzögerung und ohne örtliche Einschränkung transparent allen transaktionswilligen Marktteilnehmern nahegebracht werden. Virtuelle Marktplätze sind perfekte Intermediatoren und schaffen Transparenz in bislang ineffizienten und zersplitterten Märkten.
In e-commerce, the following models dominate for the market or the transaction:
B2B: der Handel zwischen Unternehmen (Business-to-Business) betrifft den umsatzgrößten Teil des E-Commerce. Schon länger sind elektronisch unterstützte zwischenbetriebliche Märkte bekannt, wie bei Banken (für den Payment transactions) oder Fluggesellschaften (Reservierungen mit Systemen wie SABRE oder AMADEUS).
B2C: This includes business models that relate to electronic trade between companies and end customers (business-to-consumer). Examples are the sale of books and records, cosmetics and vitamins, vacation trips, car accessories, or clothing over the Internet.
C2C: For the consumer-to-consumer relationship, auction models are made available with which used items are sold or passed on from private to private. C2C replaces the well-known classifieds market in a virtual way. One variant is P2P (peer to peer), a small market. The best-known example is the website www.napster.com, on which pieces of music in MP3 format can be exchanged.
C2B: Here private individuals turn to manufacturers with their inquiries and ask them to make them an offer (consumer-to-business). C2B is a small but innovative segment of e-commerce. The US company Priceline sells air travel through reverse auctions (compare www.priceline.com). The buyers specify a maximum price for a specific flight and then receive an offer from the providers.
A segment of e-commerce that is only slowly developing is that of public administration. The aim here is to present the services offered by the administration of cities and municipalities as well as at the state and state level, and to make certain processes (e.g. inquiries, registrations, tax processing) transparent and easily accessible.
Mobile commerce (m-commerce) is in its infancy as a new form of e-commerce. The special feature of m-commerce is the use of mobile phones: transactions are possible regardless of location. New technologies and standards in mobile telephony (such as UMTS) allow higher data throughput and the fast transmission of graphics and video sequences.