Ecommerce, also known as electronic commerce or internet commerce, refers to the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet, and the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions. Ecommerce is often used to refer to the sale of physical products online, but it can also describe any kind of commercial transaction that is facilitated through the internet.
Whereas e-business refers to all aspects of operating an online business, ecommerce refers specifically to the transaction of goods and services.
The history of ecommerce begins with the first ever online sale: on the August 11, 1994 a man sold a CD by the band Sting to his friend through his website NetMarket, an American retail platform. This is the first example of a consumer purchasing a product from a business through the World Wide Web—or “ecommerce” as we commonly know it today.
Since then, ecommerce has evolved to make products easier to discover and purchase through online retailers and marketplaces. Independent freelancers, small businesses, and large corporations have all benefited from ecommerce, which enables them to sell their goods and services at a scale that was not possible with traditional offline retail.
Global retail ecommerce sales are projected to reach $27 trillion by 2020.
Ecommerce can take on a variety of forms involving different transactional relationships between businesses and consumers, as well as different objects being exchanged as part of these transactions.