Online shopping can refer to any transaction where goods or services are bought and sold on the internet. It can be sub-divided between websites where businesses sell directly to customers (B2C) and those where businesses sell to each other (B2B). One of the leading examples of the former is Amazon which launched online shopping in 1995, followed by eBay in 1996.
Many online shopping sites use shopping cart software that lets customers add or remove items from their basket. The analogy with high street shopping is continued by the process of “checking out” just like you would do at a till when the payment and delivery information is submitted by the customer to the retailer. When the transaction is completed, you will normally receive an email from confirming your order. Once you’ve signed up to an online shopping site like Amazon, it will store your personal details (name, address, credit card) so that you don’t need to enter them every time you buy something.
As well as submitting credit card details, online shopping websites also allow customers to pay for the goods that they are buying by a number of alternate methods such as billing to a mobile phone, debit card, electronic money or gifts cards and vouchers.
Once your payment has been verified by the online shopping website, there are a number of ways in which the goods or services that you have bought can be delivered. Shipping an item direct to the customer is the most obvious and the most common. But the methods of completing the order can also include downloads (as with software, music, films), being given an order reference number to pick up goods in a store or printing out a barcode emailed to you that allows customers to pick up airline, train, film or concert tickets.