E-commerce is used by consumers and businesses to exchange goods and services via the Internet, according to Sell Online. Different forms of e-commerce include business-to-business and business-to-consumer.
According to the University of Missouri-Saint Louis, e-commerce is essentially business over interconnected networks. In B2C transactions, consumers usually deal with retail-based sites from which items are purchased online. B2B transactions mainly include suppliers and retailers dealing with payments for manufactured items. On the business side, the most common transactions are purchase orders, invoices, advanced ship notices and price information. In addition, many businesses use shopping cart software to catalogue their current inventory and set up merchant accounts in order to accept online payments.
Much of this online activity is facilitated by an electronic data interchange. This interchange allows consumers and retailers to set up data links between them so retailers can securely track customer orders. For EDI transactions to operate correctly, item numbers need to be recognized by both consumers and retailers across the globe. According to the Produce Marketing Association, which offers advice to produce and floral businesses, the biggest hurdle in e-commerce is the lack of standard product identification. As more businesses standardize their networks to those of their respective buyers or sellers, experts foresee an exponential growth in e-commerce as the line between paper and online transactions becomes blurred.