Ecommerce a question
Frequently Asked Questions
Questions like these I get frequently. Before you write me, please check to see if your question is here - then you won't have to wait for me to answer. Note, some questions point to an answer on this page and you will need to scroll up to return. Some questions point to answers on other pages and you will need to click on the "back" button of your browser or on the "FAQ" link on the left to return.
In my opinion, e-commerce is any kind of transaction done partly or completely over a network. But, just as every cook has his or her own recipe for spaghetti and tomato sauce, every e-commerce expert has his or her own definition of e-commerce. If you want more than this, take a look at our Introduction to e-commerce.
The history of electronic commerce largely depends on how you define electronic commerce. One could argue that the first transaction completed on the telephone or via a fax was the first e-commerce transaction.
As early as the 1960s, large companies were looking at ways of exchanging data between trading partners. Clearly what was needed was a common language that the computers could use to share data - at the time, there were more operating systems than there are now. This common language, or standard, became Electronic Data Interchange or EDI in the late 1970s and EDI is still used in business to business (B2B) electronic commerce today.
Most of us, however, define e-commerce as doing business over the Internet and, specifically, the World Wide Web. In 1969, America's Department of Defense commissioned the ARPANET for researching networking. The ARPANET grew into the Internet. However, it was used purely as a research tool for more than 20 years. Then Tim Berners-Lee at CERN developed the world wide web which was officially released in 1991.
Also in 1991, America's National Science Foundation discontinued its restrictions on the commercial use of the Internet. And it was probably at this time that the first Internet business started taking place. In 1993, the first graphic web browser, Mosaic, was introduced (until this time, the Internet was essentially a world of text only). The combination of a world wide web with pictures, a graphic web browser to appreciate it and no commercial restrictions on the Internet, all ingredients were there for Internet e-commerce. Indeed, the first retail Internet transaction probably took place on 11 August 1994 (according to the University of North Carolina). There have been millions of transactions since.
For lots of links to the history of the Internet, I highly recommend the Internet Society's history of the Internet.
B2B is business to business e-commerce and it means exactly what it says it means: businesses selling to other businesses: factories selling to wholesalers; wholesalers selling to retailers; office suppliers selling to offices; farmers selling to markets; etc. Any deal between two businesses is B2B e-commerce. See also the B2B definition at Whatis?com.
B2C e-commerce is business to consumer e-commerce, and obviously means businesses selling to consumers, usually in the form of online shops. See also the B2B definition at Whatis?com.
In addition, there are consumer to business, business to government, government to business, government to consumer and consumer to government e-commerce as well.
No one can be sure where e-commerce is heading, but my guess is two key areas which are, in fact, related:
Check our Statistics report for more statistics than you really want to know. If you can't find your statistics there, try...
So take a look and good luck.
A thesis is a learning experience and if you think I'm going to write your thesis for you, you've got another think coming. I won't even suggest a topic. Indeed, you should find a topic that interests you. That will make the process of researching your thesis more fun, more helpful and more interesting.
However, I can give you a few tips. Firstly, take a look at our What is ecommerce" and read An introduction to electronic commerce. Then take a look at our issues, Legal aspects and Technologies pages to find areas in e-commerce that interest you. All of these pages will provide lots of links to more information.
You also need to use seach engines on the Internet to find information. But before you start searching, read the HELP file that most search engines offer. If you understand how a search engine works, you can use it much, much more effectively.
There are lots of ways, depending on your project. If you are interested in research and technological development in the information society, then you should take a look at the Information Society Technologies (IST) Fifth Framework Programme. Your project will normally need to be performed in a consortium of at least two partners from member or associate member states, it will need to be innovative, it will need to be beneficial to Europe and it will need to satisfy a handful of other criteria. For complete information and documentation, visit http://www.cordis.lu/ist/. Then download and read the workprogramme. If you have any questions, feel free to get back to me.
If the IST programme doesn't suit you, go to the Cordis list of all open calls for tender.