What is an E-Commerce Website?

E-commerce, aka electronic commerce or even internet commerce, is the buying and selling of products or services via the internet. E-commerce is traditionally used to describe the sale of tangible or physical online products and services. However, e-commerce can refer to nontangible products as well. Oftentimes, people get the term e-commerce confused with “e-business.” They even go so far as to use the two different terms interchangeably. However, the two terms should not be confused with one another because they are indeed very different. E-business is a term used when referring to ALL facets of a business owner operating their business online. Whereas e-commerce specifically refers to the transaction of products and services online.

what is e-commerce

The Beginning of E-Commerce

Now that you have an understanding of what e-commerce means, let’s take a look at where e-commerce began. E-commerce began with the selling of a Sting CD in 1994 on a retail platform, formerly known as NetMarket. This single sale spawned a generation of e-businesses who would then create e-commerce markets. Since that first CD sale, the e-commerce world has evolved and blossomed into the revolutionary marketplace that we know of today.

As you are reading this article, you may have some items waiting in your shopping cart for your favorite online retailer. The very existence of e-commerce has made it a viable option to peruse your favorite products online, and place your wanted items in a saved cart. If you’re lucky, the site will keep your saved cart for several weeks if they have enough inventory to do so.

What is an E-Commerce Website?

An e-commerce website is a website that enables you to purchase and sell products and services online. An e-commerce website acts as a hub where trades and purchases can occur in real-time. It also gives buyers and consumers a user-friendly environment to conduct business. 

The key here of course is the “e” in e-commerce. The ability for the exchange of these goods and services to happen electronically is one of the biggest shifts in the trading world as we’ve known it in the past. Gone are the days of searching through magazine catalogs for holiday gifts, birthdays, etc. Nowadays, we can quickly and easily access a variety of online shops via the internet. The convenience of e-commerce websites has ultimately been a game-changer for how we interact with the digital shopping world.

Below are some examples of e-commerce websites that have taken the digital shopping world by storm in the last twenty years:

  • Amazon.com
  • Ebay.com
  • Craigslist.com
  • Letgo.com
  • Etsy.com

online shop website

Benefits of E-Commerce Website Online Shop Website

The benefits of online shop websites are endless. The e-commerce shopping world is unmatched when it comes down to the amount of flexibility available for both the consumer and the business. For instance, have you ever made the annoying 30-minute drive to your favorite Target store, and they are completely out of the brand name cleaning products that you prefer? Or maybe the store location simply does not carry the particular brands that you love so much. In scenarios like these, it is more beneficial to use e-commerce websites like Amazon.com. Large platform e-commerce sites such as Amazon, have a variety of suppliers that would be more than willing to accept your money, to purchase all of your household needs.

Another benefit of an online shop website is the availability of search and filter tools, used to enable the feasibility of searching through thousands of product inventory. The presence of these types of features allows the customer to quickly and efficiently locate what they are looking for without the hassle of asking an in-person customer service attendant. Have you ever been left stranded in a store aisle while you wait for the aisle attendant to return? From time to time, this is the experience of many consumers who prefer the visit to a brick and mortar to conduct their transactions. 

With the recent labor shortage resulting from the COVID-10 pandemic, it is becoming more common for businesses to struggle to provide adequate in-person shopping experiences. As a result, the pressure is on for e-commerce websites to keep up with the demands of online consumers. Luckily, there are a variety of available e-commerce websites that enable businesses to keep up with supply and demand effectively. All in all, the e-commerce digital shopping world serves both businesses and consumers well. 

Types of E-Commerce Websites

There are four main types of e-commerce websites that you should explore if you are looking to build an online shop website. These different models of e-commerce describe the different types of transactions that occur in the online world. 


Business to Business

Business to business (B2B) e-commerce is when a transaction of services or products takes place between two businesses. For instance, certain department stores will have vendors that they work with on a regular basis. The transaction that takes place between the two businesses is a model of e-commerce that represents how businesses interact with one another. Furthermore, business-to-business e-commerce is one of the most efficient ways that businesses can supply themselves with the products and services that they need. This model of e-commerce gives businesses a sense of what other businesses may have to offer as well. Sometimes a business will purposely purchase goods or services from a business. The goal of this may be to see if the competition is doing better than they are. In these types of e-commerce scenarios, a business will be able keep its inventory up to date like its competitors. 

Business to Consumer

The business to consumer (B2C) model is probably the model that you are used to encountering on a regular basis. Can you recall the last thing you purchased online? Well, that transaction is an example of the business-to-consumer model. Online shops that you frequently visit are aiming to attract as many consumers as they can in order to develop their e-commerce website. The business-to-consumer relationship is one of the most common relationships amongst the e-commerce models. We would even go as far as to say that it’s one of the most important models of e-commerce. After all, what good is an online business without any customers to shop on it?

Consumer to Consumer

The consumer-to-consumer (C2C) model has recently become one of the most trendy ways to make a little extra cash. Everyday people can now take advantage of e-commerce apps like Letgo to make a quick buck. If you are a consumer looking to provide a product or service to another consumer, there are plenty of sites that can enable you to do so. You should keep in mind that you will be solely responsible for any mishaps that might occur after the transaction. For instance, if you sell a consumer one of your gently used suitcases, and the suitcase arrives much later than it should have–or worse it gets lost in the mail–then you will be responsible for additional shipping costs. 

what is an e-commerce website

Consumer to Business

The consumer-to-business model is not the most traditional model, but it has seen a recent uptick in popularity and frequency as sites like Instagram have made it more feasible for this type of e-commerce to happen. For instance, an influencer can offer their service of exposure to a new business that is seeking to gain traction. Or a spring cleaning day resulting in piles of gently used clothing can suffice as a monetary barter for shops like Plato’s closet. Although, Plato’s Closet isn’t quite an e-commerce hub. So, consumers have options like the Letgo app, Craigslist, eBay, and Tradesy to sell their items to a business. 

Now It’s Your Turn

All in all, a robust understanding of e-commerce websites can certainly come in handy. There are a plethora of e-commerce websites readily available on the internet, waiting for you to access them. Having a better understanding of e-commerce websites can help you grow your business-to-consumer relationship, business-to-business relationship, and your consumer to consumer relationship. E-commerce has taken the digital world by storm. These websites can be great assets to you by sharpening up your entrepreneurial skills. Furthermore, the lasting effect of one’s shopping experience is one of the sole reasons that a consumer will decide whether or not to return to a particular online store. So be sure that your e-commerce is fully up to date, without any broken links, misleading information, harmful clickbait, or unsecured URLs


  • How did e-commerce start?
  • What is an e-commerce website?
  • What are the types of e-commerce websites?
  • Why is an understanding of e-commerce important?
  • What are the benefits of e-commerce sales?

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