Social Implications of E-Commerce

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Social Implications of E-Commerce

The vast majority of products one would ever need to purchase can be found on the internet. A few clicks of the mouse and anything you could ever want can be sent straight to your door, but this wasn't always the case. Online shopping - something a lot of us couldn't do without these days - is a fairly recent development. In 1991 a ban on commercial businesses operating on the internet was lifted, paving the way for e-commerce websites to develop. Amazon was launched in 1995 and set the standard for customer focused e-commerce websites, despite the fact it did not turn a profit for 6 years. eBay was launched in the same year and by 1996 had sold $7.2million worth of goods while having only two full time employees.

Before Amazon and eBay opened the gates of e-commerce customers had two choices for their shopping needs - brick and mortar shops or mail order catalogues. Word of mouth was very important for businesses as customers had limited means of price comparison or product reviews; unlike today where a simple web search can show in an instant which stores have the cheapest prices or which products are the most popular. With websites such as Groupon or Wowcher consumers can get huge discounts on products or services that would otherwise not be available. This information is also available to the business; which means they can always know what the competition is up to and undercut them or offer a price match guarantee, making sure they always have a competitive edge.

Twenty years ago location was the most important factor for businesses. Shops placed on busy streets had the highest flow of customers and therefore the highest profits. Similarly if there was only one butchers shop in a small town the owner would be guaranteed frequent repeat customers, regardless of price or quality, due to the lack of choice or information available to customers. With the popularisation of online shopping businesses can be extremely successful without ever having a high street presence. Even small niche shops in obscure locations can establish a loyal customer base if they have a good online presence, the internet makes it quick and easy to spread the word about a business.

Transactions can be carried out at any time of the day which means the business can continue to make money beyond normal trading hours. Business will also not be affected by bad weather or problems with public transport – if fact these things might even help an online business because it would be more convenient for the customer to shop online rather than go to the high street.

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A wider range of stock can be offered for sale online and orders can be filled as they come in, which saves money on warehouse costs. It also reduces the risk of over ordering on a product that doesn’t sell well.

Designs can easily be changed at any time on a website, this is much harder to do with a brick store. If the website offers a feedback submission form the customers can tell the company what they would like to see and the website can change accordingly.

Business start-up was very different before the age of e-commerce. ...

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

This essay deals with many of the facts surrounding the subject of e-commerce and it gives many examples of how it works, what is involved and how businesses are affected positively and negatively. It also mentions a couple of examples of how people have been affected adversely, for example the elderly being excluded from being able to take advantage of a shift to online services. What this essay needs to have more of is the actual impact on society of e-commerce. How has the change in employment demographics affected people within our society? What has the impact been of the elderly being excluded? What has actually happened? This is the real question that needs addressing. Much of this is implicit but needs development by giving more explicit examples and the impact and some facts and figures specifically related to the changes in society. It is also worth mentioning the way the reduction in social interaction has been borne out. Overall this is a well written and thorough account of the way e-commerce can impact on society but lacks real depth of analysis which would raise this up to five stars. This is a four star piece of work.