Overview of E-Business
Definition and Relevance of E-Business
What is E-Business?
Electronic business (or e-business) is more than having a website. It is using computer and Internet technology to facilitate doing business. Sometimes the term e-commerce is used interchangeably with e-business.
E-commerce refers to the process of buying and selling online, while e-business is a broader term used to describe a range of electronic activities.
Definition and Relevance of E-Business
What E-Business Can Do
Use the slider to go through a list of things E-Business can do.
Allow you to communicate or conduct transactions without being in the same location.
Enhance your visibility and accessibility for your customers and suppliers.
Allow your business to keep pace with your competitors. Many businesses are using some form of e-business.
Lower the costs associated with business transactions.
Allow you to compare products and prices to find good deals.
Give you quick access to a network of businesses.
Organize your business processes (e.g. through the use of administrative software programs).
Cost-effectively market your business.
Enhance services and access to customers beyond the local market.
Use the slider to go through a list of ways companies use E-Business
Access government programs and services.
Conduct accounting online.
Schedule and track shipments.
Buy and sell products and services online.
Hire employees and contractors.
Find business information.
Interact with existing and potential customers.
Market their business.
Organize their business.
E-Business Categories – Business to Consumer (B2C)
B2C involves the online sales of goods, services and provision of information directly to consumers.
B2C can be the main business activity (also referred to as pure play) or can supplement an existing business.
Examples of B2C
• A business targets its website to consumers.
• A business sends e-mails to their customers alerting them about upcoming sales.
• A business sells its products or services to consumers online.
E-Business Categories – Business to Business (B2B)
B2B refers to the online exchange of products, services or information between businesses.
This type of e-business is growing at a rapid rate. The volume of B2B transactions is higher than that of B2C transactions.
Examples of B2B
• A business chooses suppliers using the Internet.
• A business auctions off excess inventory using an online auction site.
• A supplier sells its products to other businesses online.
E-Business Categories – Business to Government (B2G)
B2G involves the exchange of products, services or information over the Internet between businesses and government.
All levels of government are moving towards providing online services and programs to small businesses.
Examples of B2G
• A business accesses forms and pays government licensing fees online.
• A business searches a government website for information about their services.
• A business bids on government purchasing/supply opportunities posted via an online procurement mechanism.
Is E-Business Right for You?
There are three key reasons why e-business could be right for you. It can help you to:
• Organize your internal communication and business processes.
• Market your business to existing and potential customers.
• Facilitate interactions with other businesses.
Organizing Internal Communication and Business Processes
A good understanding of your business needs will facilitate your assessment of whether e-business is right for you. In this section you can assess whether e-business can help you organize your communication and business processes.
Note that even small companies can have internal communication challenges.
The following assessment lists will help you assess your e-business needs with respect to internal communication processes.
E-mail Account Checklist
Does my business need to establish an e-mail account?
• I would like to communicate more efficiently with my staff, customers, or suppliers.
• Employees, customers, or suppliers have indicated that they would like to use e-mail to communicate with others.
If you agree with the statements in the assessment list consider whether you are ready to establish an e-mail account.
Internal Computer Network
Does my business need to establish an internal computer network?
• I would like staff to be able to work on shared files with a central location for the most recent file.
• Employees have indicated that they would like to share information and ideas more easily.
• Employees often collaborate on projects or tasks.
• A computer network would help me save costs associated with purchasing new software (i.e. a business could purchase one copy of the software application with enough user licenses, instead of multiple copies).
• A computer network would help me save costs associated with purchasing equipment (e.g. printers).
• I would like my employees to be able to share equipment (e.g. printers, modems, facsimile machines and data storage devices).
If you agree with any of the statements in the assessment list consider whether you are ready to establish a computer network within your company.
Does my business need to set up an Intranet or other shared resource? (i.e. a website directed to employees)
• I would like documents and forms to be readily accessible to employees.
• I would like a convenient way of posting information for employees.
• My company often e-mails multiple versions of the same document or presentation to employees.
• Employees need quick and efficient access to information.
• I would like employees to quickly and easily complete forms.
• Employees often experience difficulties finding documents, files, forms, or reports.
• Employees frequently request similar types of information.
• Information or knowledge sharing within the company is a critical part of doing business.
• Information available through traditional channels is not reaching all employees.
If you agree with any of the statements in the assessment list consider whether you are ready to set up an Intranet.
Organizing Business Processes
The following list will help you assess whether you are ready to use e-business to organize your business processes.
• I would like to make my accounting and bookkeeping practices more efficient.
• I would like to make my tax filing processes more efficient.
If you agree with either statement in the assessment list you may want to consider whether you are ready to use e-business accounting, financial management and tax software programs. There are a number of existing software applications that can help with these tasks.
Integrating Business Operations and Web-based Systems
The following list will help you assess whether you are ready to integrate business operations and web-based systems.
• My business frequently updates sales information using both an online system and a manual system.
• My company is doing a lot of extra work to make sure its regular business systems and operations are consistent with its online system.
• It is difficult to keep track of both phone and online orders.
• Online sales are an increasingly important part of my business.
• My business is experiencing problems tracking shipments.
• Customers or suppliers complain that they are receiving their online orders late.
• My invoicing systems (online and offline) are creating accounting and inventory problems.
• I would like to streamline customer interactions.
If you are already doing e-commerce and you agree with any of the statements in the assessment list you might want to consider strategies for integrating your business operations and web-based systems.
Establishing a Website Presence
The following list will help you assess whether you are ready to establish a website presence for customers.
• I would like to expand my business beyond the local market.
• My competitors have websites.
• A website may provide me with a competitive advantage over other businesses.
• My customers ask if I have a website.
• My customers regularly ask me for information about my business.
• I want to provide information about my business and products in an efficient manner.
• I am looking for new marketing strategies.
• I want to enhance customer service.
• I want to enhance my business’ credibility to potential customers.
• I want my business contact information to be more accessible.
• My customers use social media.
If you agree with any of the statements in the assessment list you should consider whether your business is ready to establish a website presence.
Selling Online to Customers
You can start with a simple information-based website to assess your marketplace before deciding whether you should invest in a more complex website for your customers.
The following list will help you to quickly assess if you need a more advanced website.
• My current customers want to order and purchase online.
• Potential customers may be interested in purchasing online.
• I want to increase my sales beyond the local market.
• My competitors have websites with e-commerce capabilities.
If you agree with any of the statements in the assessment list you should consider whether you are ready to adopt an e-commerce solution for your customers.
Using E-Business for Business-to-Business Needs
E-business can be used to facilitate your dealings with other businesses through increased access to business information, products and services. This, in turn, has the potential to reduce procurement costs.
• My suppliers have websites with e-commerce capabilities.
• Other similar businesses are active in e-commerce.
• There are online marketplaces (i.e. e-commerce websites hosted by businesses or industries), which would reduce my purchasing costs.
If you agree with any of the statements in the assessment list, then you should consider whether you are ready to buy online from your suppliers.
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