What are the Different Types of e-Commerce?

In the vast, internet-connected world we live in, there are many different types of e-commerce taking place on a daily basis. E-commerce, or electronic commerce is essentially the transaction of goods and services over the electronic platform. Different from any commerce methods before, e-commerce opens the doors of business to anyone, anywhere. Here, we look at the many different types of today’s e-commerce, organized into six distinct categories, according to theĀ E-commerce Merchants Trade Association.


Business-to-business e-commerce is what keeps most companies going today. In this type of e-commerce, a business buys from or sells to another business electronically. Perhaps a shoe manufacturer needs more red dye for their new line of sneakers. They would proceed to electronically transact to get this ink from an ink business. On the other side of the transaction, the ink seller is also engaging in business-to-business e-commerce by electronically making the sale and binding agreement.


Business-to-consumer e-commerce is a massive market. According to Statista‘s figures, worldwide sales figures alone in business-to-consumer e-commerce for 2016 is expected to reach 1.92 trillion dollars. This massive market consists of the average consumer at home, going online and placing orders with businesses. A new hair dryer, mail order diet, real estate, or even that souvenir won on Ebay, if it was transacted online between business and consumer, it falls into this category.


As the name suggests, this type of e-commerce takes place strictly between two consumer parties. It can take place in many forms including direct sales, trade arrangements, auctions, and more. If a business is not party to this online transaction, it is considered consumer-to-consumer e-commerce. Ebay, Craigslist, vehicle trading posts, and sites like TradeAway.com all facilitate this type of e-commerce.


In consumer-to-business e-commerce, the business is temporarily acting as a consumer, purchasing a product or service from the actual consumer. This type of e-commerce is much less common than most other types, but does comprise a number of key slices of the e-commerce market. Crowdsourcing is a prime example of this. In crowdsourcing, a group of individuals combines effort to create a product or service that the business entity wants to purchase. Some popular crowdsourcing venues include Crowdsource.com and Amazon Mechanical Turk.


In business-to-administration e-commerce, businesses electronically vend services and products to administrative entities. This most commonly takes place when government administrative offices transact with businesses in order to fulfill operational needs. The DMV needs lots of printer paper and ink. A city council needs to order a set of new filing cabinets for its offices. If carried out electronically, these kinds of transactions would be considered forms of business-to-administrator e-commerce.


If you have ever electronically filed your taxes or paid a municipal bill online, you have engaged in consumer-to-administration e-commerce. Any electronic commerce that takes place between the consumer and an administrative body falls into this category. Other common examples include social security payments or a local community center’s membership payments.

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E-commerce itself is responsible for a massive slice of all global interactions in commerce. These are the six essential manifestations of today’s e-commerce.