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Introduction to E Commerce and Internet

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Introduction to E Commerce and Internet We are living in the age of technological advances. Development in our society began to happen post the World Wars, where in Industrial revolution started changing the face of economies. With evolution of Information Technology we first heard the Radio and later the TV that could capture pictures from the air and show it on the TV box. Then came the ‘Computer’ which was aptly the magic box. Computers and advancement of information and communication te
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  Introduction to E Commerce and Internet We are living in the age of technological advances. Development in our society began to happen post the World Wars, where in Industrial revolution started changing the face of economies. With evolution of Information Technology we first heard the Radio and later the TV that could capture pictures from the air and show it on the TV box. Then came the ‘Computer’ which was aptly the magic  box. Computers and advancement of information and communication technology heralded the arrival of ‘Internet’ or ‘World Wide Web’ technology. What a difference the Internet has made to our lives. No other invention has had such a mass transformational power over the entire human society, enterprise, business, economy as well as the political systems, education and the world communities and nations at large. The internet is rightly called the highway that has managed to erase the borders between countries and societies and taken the human society to a different level altogether. Take a look at our lives today. There is no aspect of our life that is not interfaced with internet in one way or the other. From an individual’s need to find a date or a suitable life partner to one’s banking, insurance and other payments as well as dining out and not to forget the online shopping, internet has managed to become the mainstream facilitator to each and every individual. Today millions of users access and use the internet for various purposes throughout the day. They use the internet for searching, browsing, writing & communication, listening, watching news, videos, publishing copying, printing, discussions, trading and selling etc. The list of activities and choices that the internet has got to offer to individuals is ever expanding. With millions of users actively looking for various products, information and services, there is a huge opportunity for the businesses to jump on to the internet bandwagon and cash in on the business opportunity that is presenting itself every minute. Technology has helped build a platform that has enabled the businesses to cash in on the huge population and market that is now accessible over the internet and sell to them. Take the case of Online Banking, Mobile Banking, Debit| Credit Cards, ATMs as well as online trading and other business transactions, all these have grown and happened as a result of technological advancement in terms of communication, software as well as hardware technologies. From the time that one connected to Internet using a desktop, model and a telephone line to the Wi-Fi technology of today, we have graduated very fast making it possible to buy and sell at the click of a button. At another level the Business Processes as well as ERP coupled with various software and applications besides EDI, have enabled businesses to go ‘On Line’ with the ir business models. Today no business, be it Business to Business or Business to Consumer, can ignore the huge ‘Online Market’ that exists on the   internet. E Commerce was inevitable. Physical markets have literally been replaced with ‘Virtual Markets’. E C ommerce has had far reaching impact on business organisations for it has redefined ‘Market’. E Commerce has made it possible for sellers to reach  out to planet wide markets and consumers, thus changing the way business is conducted. For every prospective Management Professional, the in depth understanding of ‘Online Marketing’ and ‘E Commerce’ have become very important. Marketing managers have got to go back to the class rooms to learn the new rules of game in handling Online Marketing which is drastically and totally different from the traditional marketing, selling, distribution and advertising strategies. Understanding all about Internet, E Commerce mechanisms, technologies, learning how to market online, understanding E Customer and learning to identify, build and nurture a relationship with the E Customer become the building blocks of one’s new learning.   Basic Understanding of E-Commerce Simply put, E Commerce is ‘Using Electronic Platform for Business Transactions’. It is also called a ‘Virtual Market Place’. Every minute millions of people from all over the world are logging into the Internet looking for some information, for product, services, to look for news, download music, for online shopping and so on. Every individual is looking for something that he would like to obtain or buy online instead of having to go through a physical transaction. Imagine what this means to the business organisations. If they are able to identify and access those individual users who have a specific need or want, they have a ready customer in waiting. One could wonder whether it is the online community or the technology that is paving way for E Commerce. The answer is that both these factors are driving the E Commerce. The technological developments are providing the backbone for business transactions to take place and the growing volumes of users buying online is making it possible for E Commerce and markets to grow. E Commerce is characterized by Business to Business and Business to Customer business models. We are very familiar with the Business to Customer model for banking; insurance as well as online shopping, online booking etc that have become very popular and accepted modes in our daily lives. On the B to B front too, business organisations have re-engineered their Business processes including Advertising, Marketing, Sales Order Management besides Supply chain management and Customer Relationship management to suit the E Commerce mode. Dell has successfully adapted ‘online selling’ model on a global scale. It allows  the customers to ‘configure the model’ and to ‘Order Online’. Once the transaction has been successfully carried out and payment has been received, Dell executes the order and ensures that the DELL Products are delivered at the Customer’s door step within  seven working days. DELL has not only used E Commerce successfully as its major selling channel, but at the backend they have put in place ‘Built to Order’ process where in the Computer is assembled against the specific customer order and is delivered to the customer. By integrating  E Commerce and its Manufacturing process, DELL has managed to do away with holding inventories and managed to bring its costs down. E Commerce has become a major business process for Global organisations and Multi National Companies. Most MNCs depend upon ‘Online selling ‘as well as ‘Online Procurement’ on global scale. E Commerce has made it possible for them to access global m arkets as well as source raw materials from across the world. Besides, E Commerce has brought down the cost of selling as well as cost of procurement drastically adding to the bottom line. In the consumer world, Insurance, banking, airlines and hospitality sectors have stood to benefit from E Commerce model of selling. E Commerce is a reality. Several multiple technologies, platforms, agencies and networks make it possible for E Commerce to happen. EDI and Online banking and transactions have been the major enablers that have made it possible for business transactions to take place. It is simply amazing to think that with the click of a button one can buy, sell or affect financial transactions worth millions of dollars in a few minutes. However this is true and E Commerce is the future. Advantages of E-Commerce We are living in the Information Age. Internet has changed our lives and these changes are irreversible. Slowly every home is being taken over by Internet. People have switched over to paying all their bills online, banking online and even shopping online. Internet is being used by people for various purposes. The more people get on to internet and search for information, the more opportunities begin to develop for e commerce. Over the years internet has become the highway for online business transactions. From Banks offering online banking to online bookings with airlines, hotels and travel to insurance sectors, all business to customer types of business have hitched on to the highway for accessing millions of customers through the internet. These are not the only businesses that are transacting via e commerce. Most of the large business houses have gone the E Commerce way to do online procurement as well as manage sales orders and Customer management. ERP systems have managed to integrate and bring online, all modules of business operations on web mode. Millions of dollars are being spent by business organisations in upgrading their IT infrastructure, Application platforms as well as re engineering their business processes to be able to get on to the highway of using E Commerce platform for their business operations. There is no choice for businesses but to get on to the E Commerce way. At various levels from the simple mom and pop shop to the global corporations, all businesses have got to adapt to E Commerce for this is the way the future is going to be. E commerce brings its own unique advantages and contribution to the businesses . First and foremost internet being a world wide web, opens up the world as a market to the businesses. Businesses can reach out to millions of customers in an instant which is not possible in any conventional mode of marketing. One of the most significant advantages that E Commerce offers is the cost. The cost of marketing online across the globe is miniscule when compared to the actual cost of marketing in the conventional ways. The cost per transaction works out to be very cheap. More over E Commerce promotes paperless offices and processes thus contributing to savings in terms of resources too. These and many more advantages make obvious business sense for Companies to market their products and services online. In the last few years the speed of internet as well as the applications, software and hardware supporting E Commerce have developed and integrated to make E Commerce a real time business process. Online financial transaction capability has given a significant push to E Commerce. E commerce has not only caught the imagination of B to B and B to C businesses but today we have online trading which has perhaps changed the way stock markets, financial markets and commodity exchanges across the world function. Today’s customers are net savvy and know what they want. In essence today’s customers are not willing to wait. No matter how good the product may be, speed is the essence here. From online shopping to online dating and searching for life partners, all of the individual’s needs are being addressed by businesses via the web.  Looking at E Commerce from a marketing perspective brings the product or the service closer to the customer. It enables the customer to view, read, download and experience the product. The other significant difference from conventional marketing is that the online marketing enables the marketing company to customise its sales pitch or product offering to the customer. As against the conventional modes which target consumers and markets at large, with internet marketing and E Commerce it is possible to target every single individual making it more personalised and customised offer. E Commerce is just catching up. How E Commerce will develop and grow and its future impact on the way business is carried on cannot be imagined and every business small or big has no choice but to jump on to the E Commerce bandwagon. E Commerce - Changing Business Trends Business Managers of today are living in challenging times. Business targets had never been stiffer, work pressure and managing the  complexities of competition is keeping them on their toes all the time. Today, success or failure of a business and the Organisation is dependent wholly upon the Organisation’s a bility to be flexible and to respond to the external changing environment. Only those who are able to adapt to the changes and those who are able to assimilate and learn from tomorrow’s technology are able to run th e race. Digital technology has changed the rules of business game. Today, individuals have the power of internet in their hands. If one wants to book an airline ticket, it is pretty easy to do so online and it takes only a few minutes to complete the entire transaction of looking at the options, selecting the best priced deal, making an online payment and printing the confirmed ticket. As compared to talking to a travel agent for an hour and several calls, online booking is definitely a better deal. Take the case of courier industry. One can book a consignment to any location in the world and you can use the track and trace feature on the web to track the status of your parcel at any time. This feature makes a huge impact to a business which is sending some important and time bound cargo or document to another location. Look at how easy it has become to configure a computer that you want and order it online in an instant. From the above examples it is very clear that the businesses that have adapted and embraced E Business and E Commerce have managed to be successful and ahead in the industry. Migrating to an E Business environment is not easy and simple. It is not as simple as it looks that one can just buy an application and host it on the net and attract customers. Embracing e business calls for Organisations to change their business models, business strategies as well as integrate their business processes with technology. Organisations were traditionally product oriented. With times and changing environment they grew to understand and appreciate the need to be Customer centric and Customer relationship management became a key focus area . Being customer centric meant orienting the entire organisation and all its functions and divisions to be responsive to the internal and external customers. With the advent of E Commerce the Organisations have got to understand the Customers and their needs, preferences and buying behaviour in new light and from the perspective of electronic and digital media. Understanding the why, how and what of E Commerce and orienting the entire Organisation to be customer centric in the new environment calls for re-inventing the business model where technology becomes the driver and the key differentiator. The entire Organisation needs to elevate itself and graduate to new web enabling platforms where speed, information, visibility and co-ordination of multiple transactions, seamless working of applications connecting different business processes form the components of the business chain. Speed is the essence of E Business. Organisations have no time to learn all about the new technology, analyse, understand and then make their decision to embrace and grow into the E Business. Time and speed will either make or break the businesses today. Therefore the Managers and Management have got to work and migrate their businesses to the E Business platform at the speed of thought and it has got to be done now. What, Why and How of E Business For long Businesses and Organisations have been Customer oriented. They have moved from product and service mindset to Customer Satisfaction and Customer Delight mind set. The Customer expectation defined the marketing and business strategies of the Organisations. Organisations have begun to listen and tune in with the markets and customers to improve its product delivery and gain Customer relationship and loyalty. However in the new environment of the digital economy, they have to re learn all lessons with respect to the Customer behaviour. The challenge for the Organisations today is not only to tune into the markets and customers but to anticipate and estimate the Customer behaviour in the digital market place and be ready to service the customers in the new environment. For all businesses, migrating to the new Net Economy is a necessity. Those Companies that have successfully managed to tune into the Customer on the internet have managed to be successful. Take the case of Dominos, Wal Mart, Amazon and EBay etc. What differentiates these businesses is that they have managed to grow their business models to suit the Customers who are using technology. Customer centric business models have been the hallmark of their success. The key differentiator can be said to be a combination of technology as well as Customer Centric business focus. The key to E Business model is in understanding the Customer needs in the light of the new environment. Internet has changed a lot of dimensions for the individual users. Technology has changed the power equation from product and service to information and speed of information. In the new age of internet and online buying / selling, customers are not looking at the best product or service alone. In the virtual market where the competition, products and services are many, the information and the speed of information has become the key differentiator. Take the case of couriers. The availability of Track and trace of a consignment that is provided by companies like DHL, FEDEX and UPS gives the power of information to the Customer enabling him to take key decisions with the help of the information on hand. Depending upon the urgency or the need of the hour, he can work with the courier company to change the delivery mode, uplift the consignment on urgent basis and meet with the delivery deadline of his customer. For flower exporters, fruit and perishable article exporters, such information can help deal with make or break situations.  E Marketing is significantly different from the traditional marketing. E Marketing with the help of technology and data warehousing is able to get to know and address the Customer on an individualized basis rather than one generic advertisement meant for the larger public. The companies are able to reach, recognize and customize the products and solutions to the specific individual customer. Today’s technology savvy customer is different from the traditional buyer. His buying behaviour as well as expectations are d ifferent. His demands are largely driven and enabled by the E Business technology with speed and information being critical to the buying process. The influencers and the buying process too have changed. Social media networks have emerged as the major influencers aiding the buyer’s decision making process and online financial transactions mechanism too have changed the buyer’s preferences and methods of buying. Understanding the new Customer behaviour and building a E Business as well as Marketing Strategy in this new environment is the challenge for every Marketing Manager. E Commerce related Technologies  A layman using internet is overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that he or she is able to access in an instant. Little do people know that the so called information high way is a culmination of thousands of networks, multiple technologies, platforms, applications and programmes working together in co-ordination to deliver information to you and to enable a successful business transaction . Getting into E Commerce is but inevitable for all business organisations. However designing a E Marketing strategy and setting up a the technical infrastructure to enable business transactions via the internet is not a simple task. It requires a thorough understanding of the technology environment, the pros and cons of using internet as well as implementing support structures and business processes that act as back up for E Commerce. This understanding is essential for the Management as well as the Marketing Managers who are the key planners of E Marketing strategies. Most of the Organisations keep their E Commerce and internet related IT infrastructure separate from the internal Company servers and information. World Wide Web is truly an open high way where any information that is available on the server can be accessed by any one through search mechanisms. More over there are several tools available on the internet that can be used by hackers to steal information from your site, to divert traffic from your mail systems and play havoc with your website. Organisations would not wish to keep all information open to one and all. Several technologies such as intranet that hosts information and make it available to internally as well as authentication, data encryption and firewall technologies come into play as important and integral part of the IT design. Every day new methods of hacking, spreading virus etc are being introduced into the internet forcing the Organisations to continually monitor and upgrade their internet system security as well as transactional security and these calls for continual investments. Internet technology environment is also dominated by the multi-media technologies as well as the evolving communication network technologies. Information is delivered to the customer using multi media using audio as well as video mode. Transmitting and reaching the information and content calls for the connectivity and hardware infrastructure technologies. We have seen the development of 2G, 3G,4G technologies available through cable, satellite, Wi-Fi modes connecting not only to the Computers but to a host of other hand held devices such as mobile smart phones, tablets etc. Today the connectivity related infrastructure has merged voice| telephone, data as well as video and the service providers are vying with one another to dominate the end point serviceability to individual customers as integrated service providers. In case of doing business via the internet be it exchanging mails, sending documents or affecting transactions, Several technologies like digital signature and other cryptographic protocols have to be employed to ensure authenticity as well as prevent any tampering etc.  Authentication and validation process besides security checks form the basis of e business transactions. On the legal front too Organisations have got to watch out for issues concerning copy writes, licenses as well as intellectual property when it comes to their E Business and web sites. Getting into E Business |Commerce calls for building trust with the customer. When there is a financial impact in any transaction and when it comes to an online financial transaction, the security and completion of transaction has got to be flawless. For the customer to be able to trust the Company and agree to make online payment, the systems as well as the security checks and balances have got to be fool proof and need to be upgraded from time to time. Understanding of the technology environment, knowledge of the threats, ability to build stronger systems, ensuring that the transactions and processes are legally compliant as well as tax compliant are the basics that have to be taken into account while designing E Marketing strategy . All these issues have got to be addressed by using technology products and third party suppliers. Marketing managers not only face the challenge of having to understand the internet customer and his behaviour but have got to understand the technology environment, the threats and pitfalls along with compliance issues that exist. Technology element is one of the major components that have a bearing on the E Business strategy. E Commerce Trends

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Jul 25, 2017
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