Throughout history, man has been working on improving technology to make work easier, besides increasing the speed at which activities are accomplished. With the emergence of internet, a lot of revolution has taken place especially in the field of business. The need for locomotion where business people were compelled to travel long distances in a bid to increase awareness of their product has been eliminated.
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Initially, the advertising department used the internet to advertise a company’s products in order to increase sales. However, later on companies started introducing technology which allowed buying and selling to take place online.
Naturally, e-commerce has really gained popularity in the world nowadays due to its ability to save time and enable one to avoid walking and queuing. Today, a technique which started as a substitute method for firms to sell their products, has witnessed significant expansion and has really revolutionalized the way consumers respond to the market.
E-commerce is used to refer the process by which firms use electronic media especially internet to carry out their day-to-day activities of purchases and sells. It should be noted that e-commerce is not synonymous to e-business but rather a sub-set of e-business.
As a matter of fact, e-commerce can be defined as a type of e-business in which actual exchange of tangible goods takes place (Hilbert, 2001). E-commerce utilizes the internet to enable customers view the products on sell from wherever they may be situated.
Generally, e-commerce can be grouped into different categories, including business to customer type, depending on the main target of the system. Business to customer (B2C) is a type of e-commerce where business people allow customers to search and buy products electronically.
It is common in firms which consider direct contact with their customers paramount. It should be noted that many firms utilizing B2C technology have emerged since the discovery of the technique. Arguably, Amazon is one of the firms that highly depend on B2C in its day-to-day activities.
E-commerce has enormous advantages both to the customer and to business people. To begin with, e-commerce adds to the supply chain of a firm thus increasing the sales of a firm. In addition, e-commerce by offering automation to the transaction process increases the quality of customer service, besides offering personalized services.
Since all information is put online, e-commerce enables business people to avoid expenses of setting up new stores in some places, as well as advertising expenses (Schneider, 2011). On the same note, e-commerce enables merchants to reach a wider range of people using lesser costs compared to traditional methods. In this regard, the marginal cost of increasing sales is less which leads to increased profits.
For a customer to be able to access the services of Amazon or any other B2C firm, it is important for one to have access to internet. This is because these firms put online all the information that may be required by customers. In addition, the customer needs to have a mode of online payment to be able to pay for the commodities.
After satisfying the above conditions, the customer then selects a product by visiting the firm’s website. It should be noted that technology allows for selection of more than one commodity at a time (Schneider, 2011).
Thereafter, the customer pays using the most convenient and effective way possible. It is after payment that the customer can choose the most convenient mode of delivery, from the various modes used by Amazon. Delivery modes vary from picking from the nearest store to shipping incase customers are far.
It should be noted that B2C is very reliable, if its application in Amazon is anything to go by. The technique has been applied by Amazon for many years since the 1990s. Furthermore, the technology is tailored to suit consumers and is therefore user friendly. Moreover, it enables consumers to accomplish transactions in the easiest way possible (Hilbert, 2001).
Additionally, most firms that engage in e-commerce are regulated by law and can therefore not disappear without trace. Similarly, firms like Amazon which have been in this business for long have a reputation of fulfilling their duties to consumers.
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Technology has been improved and nowadays people can do online shopping for more than one product at a time, just as it is with filling a basket in a chain store. In this regard, B2C offers customers various opportunities just like any other walk-in store where people go to do shopping.
In addition, B2C helps firms reach a large client base regardless of the geographical barriers, thereby offering greater opportunities than a “brick and mortar” store (Schneider, 2011). However, many firms including Amazon have the walk in stores besides the B2C. The stores are used to serve other customers who might not meet the requirements for online trading.
Amazon’s website offers an easy to use product page which gives details of all products available and information about each product. The product page enables customers to make the right choices just as they would do if they actually visited a store.
Similarly, the website has been integrated with the bank so as to make payment clearance easier for customers. Including different payment methods in their services has also helped in enhancing Amazon’s customer convenience. It should be noted that the online product page is very easy to navigate when customers are looking for a certain product.
At the same time, the search option has been included to help customers who want a specific item find it quickly, thereby saving them time.
Moreover, the availability of the site all day round allows customers to search for commodities at their own free time which enhances flexibility (Hilbert, 2001). In addition, the B2C services of Amazon allows for direct communication with customers to give them further information whenever necessary.
E-commerce has influenced the way shopping is done in the world. Furthermore, with the continued advances in technology more development in e-commerce is yet to be seen. However, technology is highly dynamic and some other features are being incorporated in the e-commerce software.
Incidentally, these developments might end up complicating the services, especially for those people who are not well conversant with computers. It is also unfortunate to note that e-commerce has not only brought benefits to the business world, but also some negative effects.
Regrettably, technological advancement which is expected to lead to improved delivery is at the same time a threat. Nowadays, the significant growth in internet and the advance in ability to transfer information through technology, has led to increase in copyright infringement and piracy (Schneider, 2011).
Similarly, there is need to regulate who handles intellectual rights and the way people are able to access the internet, to prevent the rights from ending in the hands of wrong people.
All in all, e-commerce will continue to influence businesses significantly in the years to come. It is therefore critical that mechanisms are put in place to foster positive benefits, and deter any evil minded people from misusing e-commerce technology.
Hilbert, M. R. (2001). From Industrial Economics to Digital Economics: An Introduction to the Transition. New York: United Nations Publications.
Schneider, G. P. (2011). Electronic Commerce. Stanford: Cengage Learning.