The fast and dramatic changes in information technology especially in last one decade have given new concept of marketing in which buyer and seller do not see each other face to face nor see the goods physically; the whole transaction is carried out with the help of ‘online’ communication. The entire deal is carried out with the help of computer-telecommunication and networking with associated hardware and software.
E-commerce or Electronic commerce is the buying and selling of products or service over the internet or any other electronic media. It includes electronic fund transfer, internet marketing, online transaction processing etc. Modern e-commerce is typically bound to the internet. E-commerce, the idea of online shopping, was first put forth by Michael Aldrich in 1979. He had connected a modified domestic telephone line. Later in 1990, when Tim Berners – Lee invented the World Wide Web, e-commerce has got a scope to expand itself. Amazon. com, which was first launched in 1995 by Jeff Bezos, is the first online shopping site open 24 x 7. Today, there are umpteen number of e-commerce sites. While some are pure click websites like Amazon, cleartrip, flipkart etc, some are termed as brick & click websites.
It is a way of conducting imaging and executing business transactions and services through electronic media and networking. Computers and communication network, websites and e-mail etc. are used for e-commerce. Customers know about goods and services sitting at home. The manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and services providers let the consumers know about their products quality, price, size, colour etc through multi-coloured catalogues on website. The consumers can surf various websites and compare their relative prices, quality characteristic, features etc.
These details can be obtained from suppliers around the globe. The websites are available besides for goods, for direct selling, context selling, financial and other services such as hospitals, education, training, advertisements, property, entertainment, product demonstrations, bill payment, exchange and all other services which one can think of.
The consumer has number of advantages and convenience and therefore the system is becoming popular, like (i) consumer has wider choice not from his town or country but also round the globe unless there are import restrictions, (ii) customised or personalised product and service, (iii) absolute flexibility of time, place and distance is no hurdle, (iv) helps to globalise retail trading. One can buy things without geographical boundaries, (v) consumer is better informed about products, price etc and therefore can make better choice, (vi) suppliers, competitors and customers come under one roof through internet websites and massive exhibition of various items is possible.
Similarly, if we look at the disadvantages, these are the main (i) one is not able to see and feel the product, (ii) sometimes the payment process is not understood by all people, (iii) Chances of fraud inspite of all the precautions, (iv) the e-commerce requires large investment to build a brand image on internet thus affecting small suppliers, (v) the market is restricted to high income and educated population who own and know use of internet etc. In other words, e-commerce is for effluent society, that’s why population in USA that use it is 50%, in Europe 13%, in poor countries only 1-2% and in some countries it is negligible.
Digital marketing in e-commerce has transformed the retail industry and the way in which business need to think about their retail marketing strategies. Consumers no longer see a distinction between online and offline shopping. To adapt to the competitive new reality, smart retailers are drawing on classic retailing truths of the past and augmenting them for now. Innovative retailers are embracing this new reality, using digital technique to extend their storefronts. With the speed and popularity of online shopping, we can predict that stores will at some point altogether disappear, but this sweeping statement may certainly not be true in the present as consumers still have the urge to go out and shop. Though, there may be cheaper options online, but the experience and social aspects of shopping make it a big part of why people love the traditional experience. We might not prefer to buy in store unless there is a good deal or offer but looking at the products, feeling them and experiencing them for ourselves is something consumers still desire when choosing what to buy. But with time, an individual’s distinction between online and traditional shopping has become blurred. The number of people shopping online on a daily basis is shaping the way e-commerce is developing for the modern shopper. Consumers are not only looking for the best deals in the current climate but also of availability of products and their shipping costs.
Therefore, we can say that just as the Industrial Revolution changed the world of business so would do the e-commerce. It will be a big game changer in shopping habits in near future.