NEED FOR E-COMMERCE
The global business environment is moving faster than ever before. Increased competition at home and abroad means quality as well as profitability must be preserved by corporate houses. This pressure has led to a reappraisal of the accepted existing business practice in the search for greater efficiently.
Traditionally, the response in the face of competitive threat has been to reduce costs by L rationalizing production, shedding labour and restructuring business, coupled with investments in .technology to improve productivity and generate profit.
Whether business to business (B2B) or business to customer (B2C) there are benefits to all parties, customers or suppliers. A reduction in acquisition times and costs, lower prices for goods and services, an expanded number and quality of suppliers, an increase in buyer productivity. Better management information and better inventory control is possible. A Reduction time to market is also achievable giving improved operating efficiencies and improved product quality at reduced cost. The payment process can also be improved and finally and most importantly a greatly expanded customers base. B2B e-commerce was born out of an attempt to solve an administrative problem. It developed a new computer standard to handle these needs, which became known as EDI, Electronic Data Interchange. Today its descendant, XML, a lighter, simpler data interchange standard is used by B2B sites. Simple e-commerce sites first appeared in 1992. The early e-commerce sites were virtual catalogues, simply listing products for sale. Ordering was off-line, through e-mail, phone or fax. By 1996 the technology had advanced greatly to produce virtual stores with shopping carts, client accounts and, with the development of protocols such as Secure Socket Layer (SSL), enabled customers to order and pay for their purchase on-line directly by credit card. Ecommerce quickly became popular with consumers and suppliers. For customers, it was fast, easy and efficient, allowing them to compare products, price and service before purchase. For suppliers, it allowed them to reach an unlimited international audience, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at reduced costs. Today e-commerce is widely used and growing fast. B2B is the largest, fastest growing and most profitable market. According to IDC, this year, it is expected to account for two thirds of world wide e-commerce. B2C is also expected to grow, boosted by Broadband (high-speed) Internet access to more online households. Future advances include digital money and e-wallets, and 'personal agents' that help users find what they are looking for. Sites can work with fulfilment centres providing customers with excellent service and suppliers with information, and can support the newest trend for human interaction in E-commerce customer service. The Internet is creating unprecedented and seeming infinite opportunities for both customers and businesses. Yet it one of its major problems is that it is changing so fast that both parties are overwhelmed by the speed of change and the sheer number of choices available to them. In addition web businesses win by following rules quite different than those which traditional businesses may follow.
E-commerce appears to be exempt from the kinds of constraints that have limited companies historically. An e-commerce environment handled in a proper manner, with the right customisation of products and services, in innovative ways, can lead to win-win situations. The customers can get the right product at the right time and for the right price, companies can set new standards in efficiency and profitability.