What Is an E-commerce Website?

In the contemporary society, the concept of e-commerce is very popular. However, very few people understand the meaning of e-commerce. E-commerce is an abbreviation of the phrase electronic commerce. It is a term used to refer to any type business or a commercial transaction that depends on the internet to facilitate the transfer of information. Hence, an e-commerce website is an online platform that has a link to the World Wide Web and ensures that smooth exchange of information between consumers and business. Different businesses have different types of e-commerce websites. For instance, there are sites for retailers, auctioneers, music distributors, corporations, and financial instructions. This article discusses the concept of e-commerce websites and different types of sites you can find online.

A Historical View of E-commerce Websites

The concept of electronic transactions did not start with the introduction of e-commerce websites. It has been around for a long time, dating back to the age of electronic data interchange (EDI). Organizations utilized EDI to transfer information and complete transactions. Businesses using EDI were required to set up dedicated links between themselves. This was very expensive. Consequently, businesses sought other strategies to transact. The new strategy was e-commerce. It was comparatively less expensive than EDI, as it allowed organizations utilize multiple ad-hoc links. The use of electronic commerce finally led to the emergence of e-commerce websites.

Definition and Purpose of e-commerce Websites

As indicated in the introduction, e-commerce websites are online pages that are connected to the World Wide Web and allow businesses, corporations and other commercial institutions to connect with their consumers. The main reason for setting up e-commerce websites is to ensure the exchange of goods, services, or information between business entities and consumers. These sites remove the geographic boundaries and allow businesses to reach their target market in any region that has internet access.

Types of e-commerce Websites

Different people classify e-commerce websites differently. This article will use a uniform classification strategy, which groups a variety of websites under a single umbrella. Hence, we will discuss three major types of e-commerce websites

Transactional Websites

These are electronic stores, sometimes known as transactional sites, which represent a physical store online. For instance, they could represent stores such as Hewlett-Packard, Walmart, and Carrefour. Individuals who shop online are very familiar with the transactional websites. Many times, the owners of the physical stores often host their transactional websites in their premises for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:-

  • Allow for end-to-end business transaction via the site
  • Allow customers to search for products or services online without visiting their store
  • Enable customers to contact the business/firm and address any arising issues.

The majority of these websites ensures efficiency by creating a seamless connection between the customer and the company. They also integrate different organizational processes such as supply, inventory management, purchase order control, marketing, logistics, and customer relationships.

Static Content Websites

These websites are used to facilitate online transactions by creating awareness. Static sites have a similar function to a business brochure. They are usually used to:-

  • Analyze products or services,
  • Give details and information about the available products
  • Inform customers how they can make purchases.

Due to their static nature, these websites require fewer logistics and the design is comparatively simpler than that of transactional websites. Static content websites are less expensive to maintain. The modified version of a static website allows shoppers to purchase their goods online. These goods are then delivered to the buyer via courier services. In some cases, buyers are allowed to customize their products or services before purchasing. The seller is usually obligated to meet the buyer’s specifications before delivering the commodity or service.

Auction Websites/Electronic Marketplace

The auction sites are composed of all platforms, whose purpose is to bring different buyers and sellers under one umbrella. These websites allow different sellers to set up shop on one site. This strategy increases the efficiency and effectiveness of transactions for both the sellers and the buyers. Often, it makes it easier customers (buyers) to find different commodities one website. On the other hand, these websites ensure that sellers can have a presence online without the need for developing expensive transactional websites. Economists are of the opinion that auction websites offer an ideal platform for startup e-commerce businesses. However, scholars assert that startups should explore other options prior to setting shop on an auction site. Some of the common electronic marketplaces include:-

  1. Amazon – This electronic marketplace allows businesses to set up store on their website, but operate under strict Amazon rules
  2. Shoply.com – This online marketplace focuses on small businesses and allows them to trade using its name
  3. Etsy –This e-commerce website specializes in vintage and handmade commodities. The website is best suited for craftsmen or artisans, who enjoy vintage products.

How do E-Commerce Websites Operate

E-commerce websites operation can take place between business and business (B2B) or between a business and a customer (B2C). B2B electronic platforms usually conduct their transactions with other businesses. The number of businesses transacting can range from two to thousands. The use of an e-commerce platform is advantageous to both the business and their partners. If implemented properly, businesses may benefit from cheaper, faster, and convenient transactions. B2C e-commerce sites are the most common type of websites. They facilitate the movement of goods and services between the consumer and the organization. Like B2B websites, these sites also offer efficiency.


E-commerce websites owe their origin to the concept of e-commerce, which started during the EDI era. In the past decade, the use of e-commerce websites has advanced rapidly. The use of e-commerce websites to facilitate the transfer of information has accelerated at an unprecedented rate. Scholars and economists predict that this trend is bound to continue in the foreseeable future. The line between conventional business stores and e-commerce is increasing becoming thin. This is especially true, as more and more businesses adopt e-commerce stores, as opposed to having physical stores. Scholars and economists expect that the majority, if not all, of the businesses in the developed nations, will have an online presence in the next ten years.