Terminologie en gezichtspunten

Electronic commerce, a (too) simplified definition

The terminology “e-commerce”: A simple definition


Let’s start with a too simplified definition: e-commerce is buying or selling using the internet. This definition is too restrictive. E-commerce is more then just financial transactions between businesses and customers.


e-commerce:  A better definition:

A more complete definition will also cover non-financial transactions, such as an information request from a customer, a support request, etc... Also, you won’t always have the relation customer/supplier.


E-commerce: as defined by UK government - my prefered definition:



The definition provided by the UK government is actually one of the better ones: e-commerce is the exchange of information using a data network, in each phase of the supply-chain, within an organization or between them, between businesses, between businesses and customers, between public and private sector, and this paid or unpaid.


e-commerce: different angles of view

A more complete definition will cover non-financial transactions such as accessing information.
You can also have a look at e-commerce from different angles:



Communication perspective

  • Provide information, products, services, payments using electronic means


Business perspective

  • Automation of business transactions & workflow


Service perspective

  • Cost reduction linked with speed and quality of service


Online perspective

  • Online buying/selling of products, services, information



Looking from the buy side or the sell side


Another angle to look at it is from the buy side or the sell side. Think about automotive: A manufacturer such as Volvo cars Gent will have a bunch of suppliers in the proximity of the factory, closely integrating with the production planning of Volvo. Some will even be working in the production planning systems of Volvo. E.g. a car seat manufacturer needs real time updates on the colors and fabrics ordered by customers and the associated production planning in the factory to delivery “just in time” the right seats. Chains can be quite long: you will have suppliers of suppliers of suppliers... On the sell side the same story: A customer of the factory such as an importer for a country will have access to the production planning. His customers are the dealers who have the consumer as customer. The dealer will have access to e-business solutions such as a parts database and support information from the manufacturer. He should als be able to look into the production planning for this customer in order to be able to provide feedback about delivery date to the customer. The customer might play with a car configurator.