- electronic shopping
- Electronic commerce has long been a feature of business transactions, but is now being extended to include transactions with consumers. Two main forms are being offered: digital television, where goods are displayed and can be bought through a hand-held keypad or remote control, and shopping on the Internet, where an enormous range of products and services can be purchased using the World Wide Web. Currently, large numbers of books, CDs and computer technologies are sold via the Internet, and it is widely assumed that these kinds of products, as well as those which are already successfully purchased via the telephone and mail order, will be the most popular goods for electronic shopping. There are a number of important technical issues relating to electronic commerce. Restrictions on bandwidth pose a problem for the development of more sophisticated Internet commerce applications, and continuing expansion of the area is likely to depend upon resolving these in satisfactory ways. There are also a number of regulatory issues surrounding electronic commerce, in particular the need for globally agreed standards on taxation and consumer protection. Fears about the safety of sending personal information over the Internet are assumed by some to have been overblown, although clearly business has an interest in playing down any fears which may slow the development of this important growth area. It is for this reason that debates about encryption and ‘digital signatures’ are so critical, and that other innovations such as ‘e-cash’ (where small amounts of electronic credits can be used to purchase items) are being considered. Extensive development of electronic commerce may change the relationship between producers and consumers, possibly giving more power to consumers, whose ability to research products, compare prices (through ‘intelligent agents’ and similar technologies) and shop abroad would be significantly extended. At the same time, Internet ‘tracking’ technologies will allow producers and retailers to gather extensive data about consumers’ needs and tastes, enabling marketers to develop more sophisticated consumer models and to target advertising more precisely. Well-known brands may initially be more attractive to consumers, but there are also potential advantages for smaller organizations and specialist producers who will have the opportunity to expand their consumer base and marketing activities considerably. For both large and small producers, success in electronic commerce is likely to depend upon exploiting what is new and distinctive about the Internet, and creating new kinds of shopping opportunities.LIZ MOORPETER LUNT
Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . Peter Childs and Mike Storry). 2014.