Why are there college courses and textbooks on e-commerce when there are no courses or textbooks on “TV Commerce,” “Radio Commerce,” “Direct Mail Commerce,” “Railroad Commerce,” or “Highway Commerce,” even though these E-commerce:
The Revolution Is Just Beginning 11 E-commerce primarily involves transactions that cross firm boundaries. E-business primarily involves the application of digital technologies to business processes within the firm.
The difference between ecommerce and e-business the digital enablement of transactions and processes within a firm, involving information systems under the control of the firm 12 The Revolution Is Just Beginning technologies had profound impacts on commerce in the twentieth century and account for far more commerce than e-commerce? The reason, as you shall see, is that e-commerce technology is different and more powerful than any of the other technologies we have seen in the past century. While these other technologies transformed economic life in the twentieth century, the evolving Internet and other information technologies will shape the twenty-first century.
Prior to the development of e-commerce, the process of marketing and selling goods was a mass-marketing and sales force-driven process. Consumers were viewed as passive targets of advertising “campaigns” and branding blitzes intended to influence their long-term product perceptions and immediate purchasing behavior. Selling was conducted in well-insulated “channels.” Consumers were considered to be trapped by geographical and social boundaries, unable to search widely for the best price and quality. Information about prices, costs, and fees could be hidden from the consumer, creating profitable “information asymmetries” for the selling firm. Information asymmetry refers to any disparity in relevant market information among parties in a transaction. It was so expensive to change national or regional prices in traditional retailing (what are called menu costs) that “one national price” was the norm, and dynamic pricing to the marketplace— changing prices in real time—was unheard of.
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