Companies involved in e-commerce as either buyers or sellers rely on Internet-based technologies and e-commerce applications and services to accomplish marketing, discovery, transaction processing, and product and customer service processes.

The Internet, intranets, and extranets provide vital electronic commerce links between the components of a business and its customers, suppliers, and other business partners. This allows companies to engage in three basic categories of electronic commerce applications:

Business-to-Consumer (B2C)


In this form of electronic commerce, businesses must develop attractive electronic marketplaces to entice and sell products and services to customers. Companies may offer:

  • e-commerce websites that provide virtual storefronts and multimedia catalogs

  • Interactive order processing

  • Secure electronic payment systems

  • Online customer support

Business-to-Business (B2B)


This category of electronic commerce involves both electronic business marketplaces and direct market links between businesses. Companies may offer:

  • Secure Internet or extranet e-commerce websites for their business customers and suppliers

  • Electronic data interchange (EDI) via the Internet or extranets for computer-to-computer exchange of e-commerce documents with their larger business customers and suppliers

  • B2B e-commerce portals that provide auction and exchange markets for businesses

Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C)


Successes of online auctions like e-Bay, allow consumers (and businesses) to buy and sell with each other in an auction process at an auction website.

  • Online consumer or business auctions are an important e-commerce alternative for B2C or B2B e-commerce

  • Electronic personal advertising of products or services to buy or sell by consumers at electronic newspaper sites, consumer e-commerce portals, or personal websites is an important form of C2C e-commerce.

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