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E-commerce and e-business defined

The terms ‘e-commerce’ and ‘e-business’ are often used in a similar context to ‘Internet marketing’ but their scope is different. It is important for those managing digital technologies within any organizations to achieve clarity on the meaning of e-marketing, e-commerce and e-business to help define the scope of what they are trying to achieve!

Electronic commerce (e-commerce) is often thought to simply refer to buying and selling using the Internet; people immediately think of consumer retail purchases from companies such as Amazon. However, e-commerce refers to both financial and informational electronically mediated transactions between an organization and any third party it deals with (Chaffey, 2006).

It follows that non-financial transactions such as inbound customer e-mail enquiries and outbound e-mail broadcasts to prospects and customers are also aspects of e-commerce that need management. When evaluating the impact of e-commerce on an organization’s marketing, it is instructive to identify the role of buy-side and sell-side e-commerce transactions as depicted in Figure 1.5.

Sell-side e-commerce refers to transactions involved with selling products to an organization’s customers. Internet marketing is used directly to support sell-side e-commerce. Buy-side e-commerce refers to business-to-business transactions to procure resources needed by an organization from its suppliers.

This is typically the responsibility of those in the operational and procurement functions of an organization. Remember, though, that each e-commerce transaction can be considered from two perspectives: sell-side from the perspective of the selling organization and buy-side from the perspective of the buying organization.


So in organizational marketing we need to understand the drivers and barriers to buy-side e-commerce in order to accommodate the needs of organizational buyers. For example, marketers from RS Components ( promote its sell-side e-commerce service by hosting seminars for buyers within the purchasing department of its customers that explain the cost savings available through e-commerce.

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