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Adventures In E-Commerce Essay, Research Paper

Adventures in E-Commerce

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two years, you have heard about e-commerce, and I bet you’ve heard about it from several different angles. I’m sure you’ve heard about all the companies that offer e-commerce because you’ve been bombarded by their TV and radio ads. You’ve read all of the news stories about the shift to e-commerce and the hype that has developed around e-commerce companies. You may have even purchased something off the web, so you have direct personal experience with e-commerce.

In 1996 while surfing the web, I stumbled on an online auction site. While I found it interesting and mysterious, I didn’t have any light bulbs or bells go off in my head. I didn’t experience any sudden or miraculous visions, I just thought it was kind of neat site, and in fact I told a few of my friends about what I had seen. One of my friends who was just getting his own Civil War artifacts’ business off the ground asked me if I had seen any Civil War period items up for auction on that site. I told him that I had and he inquired if I thought he might be able to auction off certain items that he had for sale. To make a long story short, we

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tried it and couldn’t believe the results and the success. The site that I had stumbled onto was called “Ebay” and today along with a multitude of other online companies like “Amazon.com” it’s one of the most talked about, highly successful e-commerce success stories around. And little did I know that when I started buying and selling items online through this auction site, I was actually taking part of a new revolution in commerce, I was actively participating in what millions of internet users are doing everyday, I was participating in the now popular term; Electronic Commerce.

Electronic commerce involves a wide range of activities. In it’s simplest form, the goal of electronic commerce is to improve the way in which business is conducted, through technology. This could be as simple as establishing a computer-mediated relationship between consumer and business, between business and supplier, or between supplier and manufacturer. It could involve automation of existing business systems, such as transaction or manufacturing processes. On the web, electronic commerce often means marketing, and online sales. Typically there are three types of e-commerce transactions: business to business, business to consumer and consumer to consumer.

It took radio 34 years to reach 50 million listeners. It took TV 13 years to reach 50 million viewers, but it only took the internet 4 years to reach 50 million users. (qtd. on E-Marketer.Com)

200 million people use the worldwide web today; 500 million will use it in less than 3 years. (qtd. In Future Magazine)

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Consumers are shifting their buying power in favor of the internet. Online shopping was up 330% in 1998. (qtd. In USA Today)

As much as the Ice age changed the face of the earth, e-commerce is doing the same for business today. In today’s business world we’re seeing new departments and new positions being created where ten years ago, there was no need for an Internet Technology dept. or a Chief Information Officer. Today, they’re an integral part of every successful business.

Even gigantic organizations see the internet as a threat. It took Wal-Mart 12 years and 78 land stores to break $150 million in sales. AMAZON.COM did it in three years with a web site and a warehouse. (qtd. Business 2.0)

In 1996 I entered the online banking world, as my nearest bank branch was on the opposite coast some 3600 miles away from me. It was intriguing and risky; people thought I was foolish trusting that my bills would be paid via computer. In 1997 I wanted a new car. After test driving the make and model I wanted but not finding the exact car I wanted, I turned to the internet rather than to drive around town checking out all the Chevrolet dealerships in the Hampton Roads area. I found what I was looking for at the Chevy.com web site. It was so simple, I chose the model, color and options that I wanted, and I put it into one big package without the hassles of a sales person or bargaining with the sales manager. I even qualified for the financing online and received a great price as I eliminated the middleman. Within 30 minutes, I received a shipping and

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proposed delivery date that my brand new car was going to arrive. I just smile when I’m asked why I bought my car online.

It couldn’t be any more obvious than if I was hit by a virtual reality sledgehammer. In my opinion, the future is in electronics, the future is in computers & computer software, the future is in the internet. My future was foretold in the ability to recognize these facts and do something about it.

“Opportunity for all requires something else today – having access to a computer and knowing how to use it. That means we must close the digital divide between those who’ve got the tools and those that don’t.” (CLINTON 1).

Technology only includes 8 percent of our employment, but now it counts for a third of our economic growth, along with jobs that pay about 80 percent above the private sector average.

New e-commerce companies are starting up everyday, emulating their business model after some of the more successful companies that have recently made headlines and rocked Wall Street. Some are just defining an all-new route to success.

Electronic commerce is a very new phenomenon – it was fairly insignificant just 2 or 3 years ago. So here we have an industry with a predicted turnover of around 1500 billion within 3 years (in the US alone) and there are probably only a handful of people with more than 3 or 4 years hands on

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experience. This suggests two things to me. Firstly, there is going to be a severe skills shortage in the e-commerce industry, and secondly, the opportunities for those involved in the e-commerce industry are almost limitless.

At this time, there are really only two approaches to setting out on a career in e-commerce. The first involves studying and perhaps gaining a qualification in electronic commerce before applying for a position, while the second is getting stuck in as quickly as possible. The ideal way is to get in at the start of a small company that looks like it’s going places – at whatever level, even if it’s making the coffee. Of course if you could combine working for a cutting-edge e- commerce company while learning or gaining a Micro-Soft certification or even an MBA then you would have the best of both worlds. Regardless, hard work is going to be the prime requirement.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that web shopping is only a small part of the e-commerce picture. The term has also come to refer to online stocks and bonds transactions, and buying and downloading software without ever going near a store. Today, you can order a pizza, pay your bills, get legal and medical advice, confess your sins, attend college and receive a degree, all without ever leaving the comfort of your home.

com.merce n [MF, fr. L commercium, fr. com- + merc-, merx

merchandise] (1537) 1: social intercourse: interchange of ideas,

opinions, or sentiments 2: the exchange or buying and selling of

commodities on a large scale involving transportation from place to

place. (Webster’s Dictionary, 131)

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Many fortune 500 companies have jumped onto the e-commerce bandwagon. Sears is one of the newest, along with major airlines, and The U.S. Post Office, I’m sure they recognize that their future depends on being able to stay competitive, but don’t take my word for it, just Ask Jeeves.

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