Also known as B2C e-commerce, business-to-consumer e-commerce is the process of buying and selling products using the Internet rather than methods like catalog orders or maintaining a brick and mortar retail establishment. With this type of business strategy, the consumer locates the products online and places the order electronically. Payment is usually rendered at the time of purchase, or the purchase is charged to a credit account established by the merchant for use by that consumer. Once the order is approved, the merchant arranges to ship the purchased items to the delivery address supplied by the consumer.
With business-to-consumer e-commerce, consumers enjoy the convenience of shopping and placing orders around the clock. Online stores are configured to allow customers to browse any time of the day or night, and place orders that are either processed automatically in a real time fashion, or are confirmed by return email the following business day. Along with the benefit of shopping anytime, consumers also can shop with merchants that are across town, across the nation, or in a totally different country. Conversion software makes it possible to convert prices into the consumer’s local currency, allowing the consumer to know what he or she is paying in their own currency before placing the order.
Companies that utilize business-to-consumer e-commerce also benefit from the arrangement. The presence of the online store allows the merchant to reach consumers who otherwise would never have known the merchant existed. Since orders can be processed around the clock from most places around the world, there are no geographical or time restraints on who may become a customer. This has led a number of retailers who operate brick and mortar establishments or include mail ordering as part of their sales strategy to establish an online presence and actively promote the site to consumers all over the world.
There are many service providers today that can help interested companies develop a viable business-to-consumer e-commerce platform, including a store front, shopping cart, and electronic payment process. On the back end, providers can also help automate the order fulfillment process, streamlining the procedures so that each customer order is prepared and shipped in as little time as possible. As part of the overall business-to-consumer e-commerce strategy, marketing and promoting the online store using various online and traditional approaches will greatly enhance the chances for attracting consumers and building up a vibrant online clientele.