Electronic commerce (or, ecommerce) is the buying and selling of products and services over the Web. The Internet makes it easy for anyone to become a Web entrepreneur. By adding a simple shopping cart application to your website, you can have an online store that is open for business on the Web 24/7.
The Rise Of Ecommerce
Ecommerce got its start in the late 1990s with the pop culture success of eBay, the online auction site. But eBay lacked a payment system. Although items were bought and sold online (buyers “committed” to purchase an item) payment was still sent by check or money order in the mail.
By the end of the decade, a small Palo Alto company named PayPal provided electronic payment processing for eBay sales. To promote the company, PayPal paid eBay sellers $10 for every new customer. After struggling with the success of PayPal, eBay purchased PayPal in 2002 for $1.2B. (PayPal’s last quarter revenue was $1.5B.)
eBay vs. Amazon
Small auction sites popped up, but none could draw buyers or sellers away from eBay. eBay’s only competitor was a small online bookstore called Amazon. Amazon was more of a traditional retail experience (a sale, not an auction). Amazon eventually added more types of products and has now surpassed eBay in sales. Google also provides shopping services.
Anyone with an idea, product or service can become a Web entrepreneur.
Although many big companies sell their products on eBay or Amazon, most businesses prefer to maintain their own website for branding purposes. A company website creates a personal user experience and lets a business control the marketing message. Because of the low cost of hosting a website (most Web hosts charge $5 – $10 a month) anyone with an idea, product or service can become a Web entrepreneur. The Internet provides other low-cost marketing opportunities (like email newsletters, blogs and social networking) that “level the playing field” by creating advantages for small businesses.
Selling Your Product On Internet
If you have a product to sell, you can turn your website into an online store by adding a shopping cart application. You don’t need a merchant account. A PayPal account linked to your bank checking account is enough. A shopping cart can be a simple button that directs the user to PayPal, or an elegant solution that includes invoicing, stock levels, discounts, coupons and other tools.