E-Business Management: What You Need to Know

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E-business (electronic business) describes how we use technology to improve business processes. The term ‘e-business’ is often used interchangeably with “e-commerce”, but online transactions are only one of the ways that e-business has transformed today’s business processes and improved efficiency.

E-business covers all Internet-based transactions with business partners, suppliers and customers. This includes commercial transactions (e-commerce), but also other online activity, such as the exchange of information and collaborative ventures.

How important is e-business?

Compared with other information technologies, the influence of the Internet over our everyday lives has been nothing short of phenomenal, so it’s no wonder that it has also influenced how we do business.

Just a decade or two ago, online transactions were merely an extra income stream for forward-thinking businesses. Today, they’re an integral part of the economy. Online sales account for around 7% of traditional retail spending in Australia, though online activity also contributes to offline sales, so the influence of e-business is likely to be substantially greater than that. Sales figures also don’t measure the impact that online collaboration has made on business.

E-business is not constrained by geographic barriers, and has opened up new markets and networks, developing a new way of marketing. Everyday business practices have become more efficient, as processes are streamlined, data is collated, and communication has become instantaneous.

What does e-business include?

A well-run business these days takes full advantage of e-business efficiency in every part of their business including:

  • Sales and marketing.
  • Supply of goods and services.
  • Selling direct to consumers, manufacturers and suppliers.
  • Monitoring and exchanging information.
  • Auctioning surplus inventory.
  • Collaborative product design.
  • Managing internal processes such as human resources, financial and administration systems, and
  • Customer relationships.

What can e-business practices offer a business?

As innovation continues, it adds to the long list of ways that e-business practices can help a business. This will include:

  • Administrative functions are more efficient.
  • Customers can access catalogues and prices anytime.
  • Ordering is faster and easier for the customer.
  • Online research allow staff to access insights into the market and competitors.
  • New distribution channels are opened up.
  • There are more channels for creative collaboration.
  • New international and regional markets are accessible.
  • Financial management, stock control, and reporting to compliance bodies is easier online.
  • Communication through email, Skype and social networks is instant, free, and ubiquitous.
  • Staff communication through intranet is easier.
  • Cloud based applications enable collaboration and project management.
  • Customer and supplier networks are strengthened.

E-business terms

  • Business to business (B2B)
  • Business to consumer (B2C) (also known as eCommerce)
  • Government to consumer (G2C)
  • Government to business (G2B)
  • Trading of goods or services online ( eProcurement)
  • Electronic retailing (eTailing).

Getting started with e-business

Today’s, customers expect every business to have online channels where they can access information, contact the business and make purchases. Businesses without an online presence, be it via a website, social media account or even something as simple as email address, are missing out on the huge portion of today’s market that do most of their business online.

When building your online presence, it’s usually best to start with a website. From there you can start building social media accounts, where you can share your company message across a network.

Avoiding the pitfalls

E-business has a lot to offer any business, but it still has some pitfalls you’ll want to avoid.

  • If you’re opening an online store, you’ll need to consider shipping charges and local sales taxes. If your goods appeal to an international market you’ll also need to consider how best to communicate with customers in different time zones and all the relevant importation regulations. As with any transaction online, take all the necessary precautions to keep financial transactions and customer details private.
  • Most e-business transactions are type-based and, unlike face-to-face interactions, lack the benefit of body language to reinforce their meaning. A quick email can easily be misconstrued as a curt reprimand. Think carefully before you press send.
  • Write up a social media policy for your business, and make sure that everyone abides by it.
  • E-business is constantly evolving and reshaping, and there’s a lot to be gained by businesses who use it to their advantage. Network regularly with other business owners who are active online and ask them about their experiences.

If you are new to the world of e-business and are unsure of the correct path to take, it’s highly valuable to take a course in e-business management with the International Career Institute. You’ll learn new skills that will help you lead your company and team into the online world safely.