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ebusiness vs. ecommerce Websites

Many business websites might provide information about products and services, and (or) the means to obtain support post-purchase. Sometimes, however, simply providing information and/or support falls into the currently popular term e-business, not e-commerce. Websites that do not enable buyers to actually make purchases, including the means to make payment and track fulfillment, are often not considered e-commerce sites. Why? The level of risk, need for reliability, and concomitant technical sophistication increases significantly when accepting actual payment and performing order fulfillment.

What Is Ebusiness?

So that we do not end up splitting hair, it is best to understand ebusiness with the help of examples: Email marketing to existing customers and prospects is an ebusiness activity, as it electronically conducts a business process, in this case marketing. An online system that tracks inventory and triggers alerts at specific levels is also ebusiness. Inventory management is a business process. When facilitated electronically, it becomes part of ebusiness.

Ecommerce Is Narrower

If we regard ecommerce as different from ebusiness, then the only valid view we can adopt is that ecommerce is a narrower discipline. Ebusiness accounts for all business processes conducted online, while ecommerce is restricted to buying and selling.

The term e-business is defined here as the use of electronic means to conduct the business of an organization internally and/or externally. Internal e-business activities include the linking of an organization's employees with each other through an intranet to improve information sharing, facilitate knowledge dissemination, and support management reporting. E-business activities also include supporting aftersales service activities and collaborating with business partners, i.e., conducting joint research, developing a new product, and formulating a sales promotion. In spite of the distinct terminology that is used, e-business should not be viewed in isolation from the remaining activities of a firm. Instead, an organization should integrate online e-business activities with its offline business into a coherent whole.

Electronic business includes electronic commerce and mobile electronic commerce
Figure 2-2: Electronic business includes electronic commerce and mobile electronic commerce

Electronic commerce

Electronic commerce, or e-commerce, is more specific than e-business and can be thought of as a subset of the latter (see Figure 2-2). Electronic commerce deals with the facilitation of transactions and selling of products and services online, i.e. via the Internet or any other telecommunications network. This involves the electronic trading of physical and digital goods, quite often encompassing all the trading steps such as online marketing, online ordering, e-payment, and, for digital goods, online distribution (i.e. for after-sales support activities). e-Commerce applications with external orientation are buy-side e-commerce activities with suppliers and sell-side activities with customers.