Webster's definition of commerce:
com-merce (käm'ers) n. [Fr < L commercium < com- together + merx, merchandise;] 1 The buying and selling of goods, esp. when done on a large scale between cities, states, or countries; trade 2 social intercour.. 3 [Rare] se.ual intercour..
As a side note, I have purposely left of a couple of letters on the 2nd and 3rd definition so as not to have this website banned by some search engines and Internet providers.
In our context -- E-commerce is, to be simply put, electronically selling your business goods. In the broadest sense, if you think about it, back in the early 1900's e-commerce had its beginnings with the first ad on radio even though the term was coined referring to commercial activities over the Internet.
Back to the Internet. E-commerce is a website designed to sell a product or service but it can and does go quite a bit further. Today, companies offer full catalog sales on the Internet, accept credit cards or e-checks for payment and with some products such as music or software, deliver the product over the Internet.
The process goes something like this.
A person enters your site looking for a product and browses your catalog.
This person finds just the right product and decides to purchase it.
He/She clicks on "Buy it".
Your site, via some method, stores the product id and quantity into a "Basket".
The person clicks on "Check-out" which brings him/her to a screen to capture the real identity of this person. Now the basket is tied to a real person.
Now with the real identity, your site passes the real identity to a secure server where the credit card information is captured.
The secure server then queries a credit card merchant for an authorization.
The secure server, once it receives the authorization, passes the authorization number back to you along with a transaction id.
Your account gets credited with the money.
You ship the product to the purchaser.
It all seems simple but there is quite a lot behind some of the above and the hard part is not in the credit card processing - It's the store front & catalog! The catalog is your Internet store. It needs to be easy to maintain, attractive to customers, and provide your customers with enough information so they can make the correct choice.
There are four important parts to the above.
Store Front Administrator
Credit Card Processing
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