There are a number of ways to define the term "Electronic Commerce." Today, most consumers think of electronic commerce as the use of a website to search and place an order or purchase a product. In fact, elec-tronic commerce is significantly more involved and has been in practice for a number of years prior to the explosion of our current definition of e-commerce. As far back as 1994, the need was driven by work performed related to the electronic exchange of transaction documents for several large corporate entities (the most basic definition of electronic commerce), and the difficulties faced in performing tasks within this field.
One of the lessons from this work was that transactions can exist within separate business entities and between groups or divisions within the organization. This concept of ‘trading partners' clearly shows that there are often many different trading patterns within and between organizations, and that there is no one solution that addresses both. Consider that within business-to-business markets, most businesses do the majority of their trading volume with a few loyal customers who have set trading patterns. Nevertheless, most businesses also have a lot of customers who trade with them in irregular patterns. This, of course, is a result of the inherent nature of the market and the position of different businesses within their market categories. There is very little if anything that individual businesses can do to change this fact. As a result, the electronic commerce solutions they implement should take this inherent nature of doing business into account. Electronic commerce solutions are implemented as a tool in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency.