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E-commerce is rapidly becoming an excellent way to do business. It incorporates elements which are similar to those of regular commerce. The hype surrounding this new way of doing business is constantly increasing for many reasons. There are some barriers to e-commerce, but the benefits seem to far outweigh the risks.

There are many elements necessary to e-commerce. First of all, you must have a product. It is also necessary to have a place. The web sit displays the product and acts as the place. There must be a way to get people to view your web site. You can market your site both on and off the web. There should also be a method of accepting orders such as and on-line form. A secure ordering page and a connection to a bank are necessary for accepting payment. It is also necessary to have a fulfillment facility to ship products to customers. However, if you are just selling software or information, fulfillment can occur with a file download mechanism. It is also important to be able to accept returns and handle warrantee claims if necessary. There should also be a method of offering customer service through e-mail, on-line forms, on-line knowledge bases, or any other on-line mechanism. Many of these elements are necessary to perform commerce, but the specifications around e-commerce are noteworthy.

There is a lot of hype surrounding e-commerce. "On the retail side alone, Forrester projects $17 billion in sales to consumers over the Internet by the year 2001." According to O'Reilly and Associates, "Worldwide business access to the Web is expected to grow at an even faster rate than the US market from 1.3 million in 1996 to 8 billion by 2001." It is also documented that, "Dell currently sells about $14 million in equipment everyday, 25% of which is over the Web." The hype concerning e-commerce is justified by many of its aspects.

There are many reasons why e-commerce continues to grow at an exceeding rate. E-commerce has lower transaction costs by using automating processes. It is also documented that consumers participating in e-commerce have larger purchases per transaction. A web site that is well-integrated into the business cycle can offer customers more information than previously available. A company can build a catalog on the web exceeding what would be impractical for ordinary mail order businesses.

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