business-to-consumer and business-to-business commerce conducted by way of the Internet or other electronic networks. E-commerce originated in a standard for the exchange of documents during the 1948–49 Berlin blockade and airlift. Various industries elaborated upon the system until the first general standard was published in 1975. The electronic data interchange (EDI) standard is unambiguous, independent of any particular machine, and flexible enough to handle most simple electronic transactions. In addition to standard forms for business-to-business transactions, e-commerce encompasses much wider activity—for example, the deployment of secure private networks (intranets) for sharing information within a company, as well as selective extensions of a company's intranet to collaborating business networks (extranets). A new form of cooperation known as a virtual company, actually a network of firms, each performing some of the processes needed to manufacture a product or deliver a service, has flourished.
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A large percentage of electronic commerce is conducted entirely electronically for virtual items such as access to premium content on a website, but most electronic commerce involves the transportation of physical items in some way. Online retailers are sometimes known as e-tailers and online retail is sometimes known as e-tail. Almost all big retailers have electronic commerce presence on the World Wide Web.
Electronic commerce that is conducted between businesses is referred to as Business-to-business or B2B. B2B can be open to all interested parties (e.g. commodity exchange) or limited to specific, pre-qualified participants (private electronic market).
Electronic commerce is generally considered to be the sales aspect of e-business. It also consists of the exchange of data to facilitate the financing and payment aspects of the business transactions.
Perhaps it is introduced from the Telephone Exchange Office, or maybe not.The earliest example of many-to-many electronic commerce in physical goods was the Boston Computer Exchange, a marketplace for used computers launched in 1982. The first online information marketplace, including online consulting, was likely the American Information Exchange, another pre-Internet online system introduced in 1991.
Although the Internet became popular worldwide in 1994, it took about five years to introduce security protocols and DSL allowing continual connection to the Internet. And by the end of 2000, a lot of European and American business companies offered their services through the World Wide Web. Since then people began to associate a word "ecommerce" with the ability of purchasing various goods through the Internet using secure protocols and electronic payment services.
Contemporary electronic commerce involves everything from ordering "digital" content for immediate online consumption, to ordering conventional goods and services, to "meta" services to facilitate other types of electronic commerce.
On the consumer level, electronic commerce is mostly conducted on the World Wide Web. An individual can go online to purchase anything from books, grocery to expensive items like real estate. Another example will be online banking like online bill payments, buying stocks, transferring funds from one account to another, and initiating wire payment to another country. All these activities can be done with a few keystrokes on the keyboard.
On the institutional level, big corporations and financial institutions use the internet to exchange financial data to facilitate domestic and international business. Data integrity and security are very hot and pressing issues for electronic commerce these days.