The term ‘B2C E-commerce’ is an abbreviation of business to customer electronic commerce. It involves digitally enabled commercial transactions to happen between organisations and individuals. A good website therefore must have a good customer relationship via digital media, In order to carry on trading within a highly competitive market. Key points to have on a website in order to have excellent B2C e-commerce are: Shopping carts, these are integral parts of e-commerce sites which allow you to accept product purchase orders for multiple products or services. The carts should be clearly visible and easily accessible. All forms and costs should be simple and clearly displayed. Customer comments on the online notice board, constantly praise E-bay for their easy to use layout of their website.
The website offers advantages over conventional methods of buying products, e.g. eBay does this by offering the goods at potentially very low prices. The site’s are quick to load, look professional, trustworthy and gives the customer incentive to visit and return to the site. Merchant accounts, these allow transactions to take place with credit cards as a form of payment. There is added assurance for customers that credit card details will not be viewed by unwanted parties because of the letters ‘http’. This is at the front of the URL address and indicates that the website is secure. Navigation around the site has to be direct and easy for the customer to use, unnecessary clicking will deter the majority of customers (e.g.www.play.com and www.ebay.com)
Good colour contrast is imperative as the site has to be readable e.g. many adults have problems distinguishing red from green. Market research from http://hints.1-2-wonder.com/goodsite.shtml gives advice on how to avoid bad B2C e-commerce. The main points are: 1. Don’t have busy backgrounds, these can slow the loading of the website and therefore cause inconvenience to the user. Animated graphics and midi sound files make the website look unprofessional and therefore question the integrity of the site.
2. Don’t have bloated code, this makes the web page load slowly. 3. Do not to have excessive frames, this can put the user off browsing the site as he has to scroll in multiple places to get to different parts of the website. Multiple frames also affect search engine results because of the extended address. One website that is constantly praised as being a good e-commerce website is E-bay. Founded in September 1995, eBay is the world’s foremost online marketplace for the sale of goods and services by a diverse community of individuals and businesses. Today, the eBay community includes tens of millions of registered members from around the world. People spend more time on eBay than any other online site, making it the most popular shopping destination on the Internet.
The massive appeal of E-bay is forcing the site to expand due to users pushing forward the huge international trading market on the website. “E-bay is creating a second, virtual economy…It’s opening up a whole new medium of exchange.” W. Brian Arthur, an economist at the think tank Santa Fe Institute. The result of so many users has given E-bay a strong online presence (the top 0.01% of internet sites are found in 35% of all engine searches). Websites with strong online presences must also show that their site is reliable for customers to use again and again.
An article on www.digitalenterprises.org criticises E-bay’s reliability, regarding being able to track stock being shipped out to customers and cases of fraud, an example being “Mark and the case of the missing Toshiba laptop from http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y02/m10/i12/s01. “Victims of fraud feel a great frustration in trying to get answers from auction sites and law enforcement officers. It is, for the most part, a one-way dialog as evidence is collected.” Ina Steiner (www.AuctionBytes.com) 12th Oct 2002
It’s a very common case with E-bay users that have been victims of fraud that they cannot warn others about bad sellers. There is only a limited feedback method, where members have only a mere 80 character to sum up their complaints. However, E-bay is beefing up its services most of all, its police force. While the company claims that fraud happens in less than 0.01% of all transactions, its own surveys reveal that fear of fraud is a major turnoff for prospective customers. So early last year, eBay formed a Trust & Safety Department., now staffed by several hundred eBay employees worldwide. eBay also has developed software that recognizes patterns of behavior common to previous fraud cases.
Trust & Safety Vice-President Robert Chesnut says “As time goes on, we’re exercising more control.” To date a laissez-faire approach has been taken with E-bay. E-bay has a strong case of consumer sovereignty. Users drive the website forward and in turn it grows. Vice president of E-bay, C. Cobbs said: “E-bay doesn’t use business terms like ‘drive, force or commit’ but uses ‘listening, adapting and enabling’ towards customers.” The approach has been successful as E-bay is one of few websites still to be making profit. EBay has many of the points listed in the good e-commerce practices, and very few of the bad e-commerce market research results. This makes it an excellent example of B2C e-commerce.