E-commerce websites are sites that facilitate business or commercial transactions involving the transfer of information over the Internet. Types of e-commerce sites include but are not limited to: retail sites, auctions sites, music sites, business-to-business services and financial management sites. Notable examples of e-commerce sites include Amazon, eBay, iTunes, Zappos and Overstock.
The rise of the Internet in the 1990s made it possible for businesses to reach new audiences over the web. Many businesses saw the potential to expand their customer base by offering goods and services online. Some companies added Internet elements to their traditional business models, while other businesses started as strictly online stores.
The application of secure money transfers and the development of e-mail helped to spur online business growth. The term "electronic commerce" was coined to describe business carried out online and to differentiate it from traditional forms of commercial transactions. The term was shortened to e-commerce as the practice became more established.
While it does apply to all types of online activities requiring the transfer of information, it is generally applied to the sales portion of a company's business activities. Internet marketing, data collection and social media may directly relate to e-commerce, but they are often discussed in their own terms.