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Categories: E-commerce


E-commerce (or Electronic Commerce) is “an Internet transaction in the sale or purchase of goods or services, whether between businesses, households, individuals, governments, and other public or private organisations, conducted over the Internet. The goods and services are ordered over those networks, but the payment and the ultimate delivery of the goods or services may be conducted on or offline.” (Economic Co-operation and Development, 2002).

In a nutshell: E-commerce is any sort of transaction (buying or selling) made on the internet.


E-commerce is a broad term that includes various types of e-commerce business classifications (Reynolds, 2000), including:

  • Business to business (B2B)

In a B2B model there are e-commerce businesses that are predominantly service providers. You’ll find software companies, office furniture and supply companies, hosting companies (DeMatas, 2018). B2B ecommerce examples include the ExxonMobil Corporation and the Chevron Corporation, Boeing, and Archer Daniel Midlands. These businesses have custom, enterprise commerce platforms that work directly with other businesses in a closed environment (DeMatas, 2018).

  • Consumers to businesses (C2B)      

C2B involves individuals selling products or services to businesses, and is roughly equivalent to a sole proprietorship serving a larger business. Reverse auctions, service provision websites like UpWork, and several common blog monetisation strategies like affiliate marketing or Google AdSense also fall under this heading (DeMatas, 2018).

  • Business to consumers (B2C)

B2C e-commerce is the most well-known form of e-commerce (Statista, 2018). According to DeMatas (2018), this is the deepest e-commerce market, and many of the mainstream online retailers are equally known offline. B2C e-commerce sales are the traditional retail model, (DeMatas, 2108).

  • Consumers to consumers (C2C)

Created by the rise of the e-commerce sector and growing consumer confidence in online sales, the C2C e-commerce are online platform that allow customers to trade, buy, and sell items in exchange for a small commission paid to the platform (DeMatas, 2108). C2C e-commerce businesses mentioned by DeMatas (2018) include eBay and Craigslist (DeMatas, 2108), however include other platforms such as Amazon, Gumtree, Etsy and Not On The High Street to name just a few.

However, the most common category term used for this sort of e-commerce business is “marketplace” (Korotya, 2017). eBay even defines itself as “the world’s online marketplace; a place for buyers and sellers to come together and buy or sell almost anything!” (eBay, 2018).


Originally, e-commerce meant the facilitation of commercial transactions electronically, using technology such as Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and Electronic funds transfer (EFT). These were both introduced in the late 1970s. However, the meaning of e-commerce has significantly changed over the years (Dinodia and Tiwari, nd.).

Nowadays there are some differences, or rather nuances across publications when it comes to the definition of e-commerce.


There are some differences, or rather nuances across publications when it come to the definition of e-commerce. However, it is understood in almost the same way in most publications and spheres. Here are some of the definitions found:

  • According to Dinodia and Tiwari (nd.) e-commerce consists of the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks (Dinodia and Tiwari, nd.).
  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) says “E-commerce is the production, distribution, marketing, sales or delivery of goods and services by electronic means.” (Dinodia and Tiwari, nd.)
  • According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), e-commerce is defined as commercial transactions, involving both organizations and individuals, that are based upon the processing and transmission of digitised data, including text, sound and visual images and that are carried out over open networks (like, the internet) or closed networks (like, AOL or Mintel) that have gateways onto an open network (Dinodia and Tiwari, nd.).
  • The magazine-format newspaper, The Economist, says “E-commerce refers to trade that actually takes place over the Internet, usually through a buyer visiting a seller’s website and making a transaction there.” (The Economist, 2000).
  • The online magazine, Entrepreneur, starts by simply providing the tagline “Business done on and through the web”. The magazine then fleshes the definition out by saying that E-commerce is the selling of products online (via your own website or an online marketplace). It allows businesses to promote and sell products online, taking orders and accepting payment, all without stepping foot in a storefront or ever seeing customers face-to-face(The Economist, 2000).
  • E-commerce is the exchange of services and products online. Affiliate, physical, and digital products all fall under this purview, as do services of all kinds that involve an exchange of funds online (DeMatas, 2108).


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NB: The rapid changes that comes from digital technologies, marketing and business mean definitions are forever changing. Please feel free to join the conversation.

Comments (2)

Message from John Thomson

Do you give training on shopify from start to finish. We are sending up a new website using this platform, have watched most of the videos.
We could do with one to one training. Is this a service that you offer.

Best regards John

Very sorry John for the very late reply. This is because your comment went into spam. Yes, I do do training on Shopify from start to finish but I guess it might be too late. Ideally it is better to contact me directly via

Many thanks


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