The basic shift experienced when changing over from conventional brick-and-mortar business to e-commerce is the one from the physical marketplace to the digital cyber ‘marketspace’. Obviously, the first step in the direction of e-Commerce is having a web presence or a web site or portal in the World Wide Web that provides instant and easy access to all information that the business concern may want to disseminate. It is not information dissemination alone, obtaining customer feedback and inputs online is as vital a component of e-Commerce if not more so.
The changes are obvious. The change in content of transaction is represented by the replacement of the product itself by information on the product; the context of transaction is different because face-to-face interaction is replaced by the electronic screen; and finally the change in the environment itself is represented by computer and communication infrastructure and equipment replacing physical and human resources.
Unlike the marketplace, the cyber ‘marketspace’ is not hindered by geographical or location constraints, lends itself to round-the-clock, seven-day-a-week in terms of time utilization and flexibility, and can be changed, altered or adapted to changing conditions far more easily. E-Commerce companies will also increase their accessibility, it creates a twenty- four hour operation, and this allows people to shop when it’s convenient to them (Pallab, 1996). In other words, the ‘marketspace’ possesses a far greater potential for value creation and addition.
This high potential of e-commerce translates into several advantages in business. “Electronic commerce can play a role in reducing costs, improving product quality, reaching new customers or suppliers, and creating new ways of selling existing products” (Singh, 2003). e-Commerce expands the market reach of a business firm to encompass the entire world. Anybody who has an Internet connectivity can access the company’s website from anywhere across the globe. Even a comparatively small firm can reach out to the global market at very nominal expenses, and gain access to markets way beyond is existing customer base.
The visibility of a company which would otherwise have been only a speck in the global scenario increases manifold thanks to e-Commerce. In fact, the Internet and the World Wide Web have been playing the roles of great levelers in terms of visibility. The Internet also reduces the advantage of large companies over small companies, because it somewhat levels the playing field (Wilder, 1998). On the Internet, all companies are reduced to the size of the browser window of the potential client. If the content impresses or catches attention, the company scores irrespective of whether it is big or small.
Playing in the global arena shoulder to shoulder with the giants is made possible to small and medium players only through e-Commerce. e-Commerce makes it very easy to introduce new services and products. In conventional businesses, introducing a new service or product is a time-consuming, difficult and expensive affair. Firms that endorse e-Commerce are however able to introduce new services and products for customers, partners and suppliers easily and at nominal costs as the basic infrastructure required to do so is already in place and functioning, and does not have to created all over again and again.