The development of the internet has taken communications and trade beyond the scope of time and distance.
With the advent of the internet and massive computing systems that are increasingly becoming smaller on a physical scale, the world is continually proportionately shrinking in sociological terms and becoming economically interdependent. Officially, the definition of e-commerce, the interchange of electronic data, indicates a computer network activity facilitated by telephone, cable or satellite connections in which consumers and businesses are able to connect. By means of their computers, consumers, retailers,’ suppliers, manufacturers and many other types of businesses receive and place orders, bill customers, pay for goods and track shipments and inventory (Haubl & Trifts, 2000).
Computers are becoming smaller, more readily available, and more affordable for those in even small, out-of-the-way places. Technologies are emerging that place computers in the hands of children who don’t even have access to electricity.
Satellite connections are even making it possible for an individual to have global reach from the remotest regions of the deserts. This begins to illustrate the importance of the internet in greatly expanding the world’s available consumer base which itself both shapes and is shaped by these advancements. These tremendous advancements that provide individuals with a means of communicating their ideas worldwide with little more than a bit of electricity, an internet connection and a relatively inexpensive computer have changed the media industry, the forms of consumption and the world of business (Pack, 2003).
Based upon its level of use in current society as it grows and expands in response to both consumer and corporate directives, it is safe to say that the internet will become even more integrated into the everyday life of individuals throughout the world in the years to come. As it becomes easier and easier to allow services and features to cross platforms from PC computer to handheld device and from cell phone to MP3 player and beyond, prices on electronics will continue to fall and make it possible for individuals in third world countries to join in the internet revolution. In a study cited by James McGuire (2005), it was determined that internet sales continue to grow, reaching $65 billion in 2004 which represented an increase of 26 percent over 2003.
Despite the increasing numbers of online shoppers and the relative ease shoppers encounter as they enter an online retailer site, there are several negative factors not directly related to the consumer that nevertheless affect consumer behavior when determining whether to make an online purchase. One of the primary dangers being confronted is the issue of identity theft and information mining being conducted on reputable as well as questionable sites (Wolfinbarger & Gilly, 2003).
Shopping and business will continue to be available online, expanded by increasing numbers of people finding means of securing an income online, reducing travelling time and expense while affording them more time with the family. This does not translate into nations of people locked in their homes, however, as all of the functions that are available on the computer would also be available in the handheld device and people would be able to stroll about as they wish.
This also does not translate into the demise of all brick and mortar businesses just as it has not in the past ten years. Rather, brick and mortars will continue to integrate their businesses with internet and internet will continue to be integrated with the needs of brick and mortar. This worldwide establishment of the internet throughout most cultures and countries has revolutionized the way people live their lives on many fronts.
With the introduction of the internet and communications occurring literally at the speed of light, new practices in modern living are evolving, such as e-commerce, e-trade and e-finance, creating a much more interconnected world even as we remain physically quite far apart. The addition of the internet has ushered in an age of highly technologically produced mass trade opportunities along with communication which has made it possible for individuals and businesses to gain access to far more information and trade more commerce than ever before in the history of mankind.
Haubl, G. & Trifts, V. (2000). “Consumer Decision Making in Online Shopping Environments: The Effects of Interactive Decision Aids.” Marketing Science. Vol. 19, N. 1.
MacGuire, James. (2005). “The State of E-Commerce: Online Shopping Trends.” E-Commerce Guide. Web.
Pack, Thomas. (2003). “Creating Community.” Information Technology. All Technology. Web.
Wolfinbarger, Mary & Gilly, Mary C. (2001). “Shopping Online for Freedom, Control, and Fun.” California Management Review. Vol. 43, N. 2, pp. 34-55.