Electronic commerce, commonly known as e-commerce, ecommerce, ecommerce or e-comm., refers to the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks. The amount of trade conducted electronically has grown extraordinarily with widespread Internet usage. The use of commerce is conducted in this way, spurring and drawing on innovations in electronic funds transfer, supply chain management, Internet marketing, online transaction processing, electronic data interchange (EDI), inventory management systems, and automated data collection systems. Modern electronic commerce typically uses the World Wide Web at least at one point in the transaction's life-cycle, although it may encompass a wider range of technologies such as e-mail, mobile devices and telephones as well.
A large percentage of electronic commerce is conducted entirely in electronic form for virtual items such as access to premium content on a website, but mostly electronic commerce involves the transportation of physical items in some way. Online retailers are sometimes known as e-retailers and online retail is sometimes known as e-tail. Almost all big retailers are now electronically present on the World Wide Web.
Electronic commerce that takes place between businesses is referred to as business-to-business or B2B. B2B can be open to all interested parties (e.g. commodity exchange) or limited to specific, pre-qualified participants (private electronic market). Electronic commerce that takes place between businesses and consumers, on the other hand, is referred to as business-to-consumer or B2C. This is the type of electronic commerce conducted by companies such as Amazon.com. Online shopping is a form of electronic commerce where the buyer is directly online to the seller's computer usually via the internet. There is often no intermediary service involved, and the sale or purchase transaction is completed electronically and interactively in real-time. However in some cases, an intermediary may be present in a sale or purchase transaction, or handling recurring or one-time purchase transactions for online games.
Electronic commerce is generally considered to be the sales aspect of e-business. It also consists of the exchange of data to facilitate the financing and payment aspects of business transactions.