Electronic Commerce is the use of the Internet or non-traditional forms of electronic marketing between a company and its customers, suppliers, or other business partners. Electronic Commerce is also known as e-commerce or e-business but for the purpose of this discussion it will be referred to as e-commerce or EC. Through e-commerce we can use a PC or smartphone to connect to the Internet and conduct business, manage email, purchase a plethora of products, and acquire research information virtually anywhere in the world. This powerful capability is ubiquitous and dependable but has had a problem-plagued growth that was overcome in only about the last five years. E-commerce, however, has gained consumer trust and global usage, and businesses are investing heavily in its future.
Throughout the history of the United States, innovations in business and commerce have had a temporarily disruptive effect on the economy starting with the introduction of mass retail purchasing in the post-Civil War era, to mail-order shopping, big-box discount stores, to e-commerce. From its Pre-Internet stage to the present, the Electronic Commerce Life Cycle has had a startling effect on worldwide commerce. Despite its fitful start and tumultuous growth, EC has opened new avenues of product acquisition and information retrieval that are efficient, convenient, and cost effective. Bruce McDougall declared, “Electronic technology has changed the way we think about money and monetary value. It’s changing the way companies organize themselves and do business. . .”