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E-Businesses: Types & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is E-Business?
  • 1:50 The Development of E-Business
  • 2:26 Types of E-Businesses
  • 4:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dr. Douglas Hawks

Douglas has two master's degrees (MPA & MBA) and is currently working on his PhD in Higher Education Administration.

The post-WWII technology boom, specifically the Internet, has changed business incredibly. It's created new businesses and changed how existing businesses operate. In this lesson, we'll discuss how that has occurred and look at some examples.

What Is E-Business?

Simply defined, an e-business is an electronic business activity. It's an older term, just like many of the terms created in the late 1980s and early 1990s as the Internet started becoming part of everyday life: first for researchers, then for many businesses, and then for consumers. Just like 'e-mail,' the abbreviation 'e' - meaning electronic - was put in front of words already used to describe how the Internet was changing our lives.

At first, e-business generally referred to businesses that interfaced with their consumers almost exclusively over the Internet. For example, one of the earliest e-businesses that aimed to serve a broad market was Amazon.com. The Amazon.com of 1994 was very different than the Amazon.com of today. Even if you could compare their homepage in 1994 to their current homepage, you'd be shocked at how much technology has changed. But, you would also notice that, in 1994, Amazon.com was a specialty bookstore.

Today, while it still sells books, it also sells nearly every other product you can think of: clothes, electronics, toys, household goods, music, movies, and even food! Amazon Dash is a service available in many large U.S. cities where you can order fresh vegetables, fruit, and other food on Amazon, and it is delivered the same day. Amazon.com also includes the Amazon Marketplace, which is where third-party vendors can sell on Amazon—much like eBay, but Amazon Marketplace doesn't use bidding. As the 'e' part of e-business has changed, Amazon is a great example of a company that has changed with it. But not all e-businesses were intended for consumers to see and use. As the Internet developed, so did the type of businesses on it.

The Development of E-Business

Think of all the types of businesses in a normal economy. You have retailers that sell directly to the consumer. You have wholesalers who sell to retailers. You have manufacturers who sell to the wholesalers. You have service providers that sell services to help the rest of the economy work.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, all of those businesses found ways to use the Internet to be more productive, thus, in some way, becoming e-businesses. Soon, the term 'e-commerce' was in use, still referring to e-business activities but often being more focused on the buying or selling transactions.

Types of E-Businesses

Earlier, we discussed Amazon. Amazon is a great example of a direct-to-consumer e-business. Their marketing, distribution system, and website is all aimed at the end user—me and you—using their website and buying something, without ever leaving our home. When you think about e-businesses, these might be the first to come to mind. These are often called B2C (business-to-consumer companies), but there are other types.

How about eBay or Craigslist? eBay may sound like a direct-to-consumer business, but really, it's a third-party service provider. When you buy something from eBay, you don't really buy it from eBay, you buy it from someone that has listed an item for sale on eBay. In that way, a third-party service provider isn't selling you something directly but is facilitating a transaction between the buyer and seller. Companies like eBay that connect two consumers are sometimes called C2C or consumer-to-consumer businesses.

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