Internet commerce is the use of the Internet for all phases of creating and completing business transactions. It is a broad term covering all commercial activity on the internet, including auctioning, placing orders, making payments, transferring funds, and collaborating with trading partners. Internet commerce is not a synonym for e-commerce but it is one its subsets.
In its broadest sense, Internet Commerce includes:
- The full sales and marketing cycle- for example, by analyzing online feedback to ascertain customer’s needs.
- Indentifying new markets- through exposure to a global audience through the Internet.
- Developing ongoing customer relationships- achieving customer loyalty through ongoing email interaction.
- Assisting potential customers with their purchasing decision- for example, by guiding them through product choices in an intelligent way and helping them in decision making.
- Providing round- the-clock points of sale- making it easy for buyers to order online, irrespective of time, location.
- Supply Chain Management- supporting those in the supply chain, such as dealers and distributors, through online interaction.
- Ongoing Customer Support- providing extensive after-sales support to customers by online methods; thus increasing satisfaction, deepening the customer relationship.
Companies evolve their Internet Commerce activities through six stages:
- The world-wide web as an online product catalogue- this has the advantage of being up-to-data and readily accessible.
- Pre-sales support though electronic mail- providing prompt and informed response to queries of potential buyers.
- Full transaction processing for placing order-through a secure server.
- Delivery of product or product update information-some products can be delivered online. For other, customers can be kept informed of new development.
- Collecting detail of prospective customers’ interest- typically though forms. This stage is more fully developed when these are handled in a database and targeted offers can be sent to those registered.
- Provision of interactive discussion facilities for customers with shared interests.