Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
E-business has become an intrinsic component of the economy. U.S. retail sales alone accounted for $602 billion in 2019. Back in 2017, the last time the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis crunched the numbers, e-business transactions ran up to $1.35 trillion, or about 7% of the gross domestic product, and accounted for 152.1 million jobs.
Just as e-business is growing, the technology behind it is continuing to advance. The key features you would expect to see just 10 years ago are quite different than what they are today. Once you understand the characteristics of e-business today, including e-commerce, it's easier to know what features to look for in an e-business platform.
Characteristics of E-Business
Retail may be the most pervasive form of internet-based business, but it is only one type of e-business being used today. In fact, any business that is done over the internet qualifies as e-business. This includes sharing data between organizations as well as trading and purchasing. Retail sales as well as business-to-business sales are both examples of e-commerce, which is just a part of e-business as a whole.
All e-business models have one thing in common: They create electronic added value to the people or organizations using it. As such, the features of e-business models can be characterized by offering one or more of the following six values:
- Structuring value: An e-business can provide you with an overview of a large amount of information.
- Selection value: An e-business can offer you specific data upon request.
- Matching value: An e-business allows you to merge inquiries from different sources, like suppliers and customers.
- Transaction value: An e-business increases efficiency.
- Coordination value: An e-business permits people or organizations to combine their services.
- Communication value: An e-business improves communication between participants.
Features of E-Business for Your Customers
The first feature of an e-business is having a website domain name, or URL, that is easy for customers to find and to remember. Ideally, it should be your company or brand name. If you want to find Amazon, Nike, Target or any other major brand, you simply have to type a ".com" after the name, and you're there.
- Search engine optimization: This means ensuring that when someone types your company, your brand or your product in a search engine like Google, your website will be easy to find.
- Mobile friendly: Your website should be optimized for mobile phones.
- Secure: Customers need to depend on you to keep their data private.
- Easy to navigate: Your website should be intuitive with links that are easy to find. Visitors should be able to quickly search within your website to find the products or services they are seeking.
- Responsive: Nobody likes waiting. Webpage content should begin loading immediately, and images, videos and other features should load within a couple seconds at most.
Features of E-Business for Your Company
Your customers' experience with your e-business is always important, but there are features you need for yourself too. Your e-business platform should work seamlessly with your other software programs, including your client management software, inventory tracking, shipping information and accounting software. Automated, real-time data being transferred between your e-business platform and your other systems means quicker, more reliable information with less work for you.
Scalability is another feature you will need in your e-business platform so that it can grow along with your company. Having to move from one software provider to another can seriously disrupt business. Subscription-based and cloud-based e-business platforms are easy to scale and can keep expenses low while your business is still growing, which is of course the third feature to look for: low cost.
A published author, David Weedmark has advised businesses on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years and used to teach computer science at Algonquin College. He is currently the owner of Mad Hat Labs, a web design and media consultancy business. David has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines and websites including American Express, Samsung, Re/Max and the New York Times' About.com.