Traditionally, (or as much as we can use the word traditional in reference to the web) we view e-commerce as the act of selling a physical product on the web. Like Amazon selling books or Boots the chemist selling toothpaste.
However, we often forget that e-commerce encompasses several other variations of selling and does not have to refer to an actual product. It is about trading information online to open up communication through as many difference channels as possible (but always with the hope of a sale later on). Think of it like this, we carry out acts of commerce every day of the week and not all of them involve the immediate exchange of money for goods and it’s exactly the same online.
Digital advancements are enabling methods of e-commerce that were previously uncommon. It is far easier for buyers and sellers from all walks of life, locations etc to have access to each other and to form relationships. But what are the different forms of e-commerce out there and how can you embrace it for your company (or self) promotion?
Business to Business (B2B)
Setting up and promoting your company website is form of e-commerce. You may not be selling a physical products and money may not be exchanging hands but you are selling your company, it’s experience and it’s branding online. You are putting it out there for other companies to find and react to and with any luck, buy from!
B2B selling can also refer to business specific websites such as trade wholesale websites and also business directories such as whichwebdesigncompany.com which sell you company without selling a physical product.
A company website, blog, e-mail marketing campaign etc are all examples of B2B e-commerce.
Business to Consumer (B2C)
This is the ‘traditional’ interpretation of e-commerce. Selling a product to a customer via an online shop such as play.com or debenhams.com.
Consumer to Business (C2B)
Possibly the least common of all e-commerce is Consumer to Business. For example, imagine an antiques dealer scouring ebay to source a bargain or a limited edition piece. They may well end up buying from ‘Joe Bloggs down the road’ rather than an actual company. That’s Consumer to Business e-commerce
C2B selling can include websites such as Ebay and Amazon Marketplace.
Consumer to Consumer (C2C)
Social media sites such as MySpace and Facebook count as Consumer to Consumer selling. We all have looked at links recommended by friends, think of the Arctic Monkeys, a British band that rose to success through fans copying and distrubiting their demo cd’s. They rose to fame through fan recommendations and downloads through the likes of MySpace.
C2C selling also refers to websites such as ebay where anyone can easily buy and sell products regardless of them owning a shop or having a huge stock of products.
Once again, MySpace, Facebook and Ebay are all versions of C2C selling. Easy to set up and does not require knowledge to set up, host or run an independent website.