As well as allowing you to do business online with customers, e-commerce can help build closer links and improve relationships with trading partners.
These online systems can also allow you to improve your own business efficiency.
Intranets and extranets
An internal, browser-based company network (intranet) can be used to improve efficiency by enabling employees to search for and share key business information.
An extranet extends this to external partners, such as suppliers and key customers.
Extranets can be used for exchanging data and applications, and sharing specific information - for example, inventory levels and sales trends.
Read more about the benefits of intranets and extranets.
Supply chain management
The concept of supply chain management revolves around having the right product in the right place, at the right time, and in the right condition.
The key aspects of supply chain management include the ability of businesses to:
- exchange information on stock levels
- fulfil orders more quickly
- minimise excess inventory
- improve customer service
- use a networking infrastructure to ensure good response times and speed
There are many online exchanges that enable suppliers, buyers and intermediaries to come together and offer products or services to each other, according to set criteria. Buyers and sellers work interactively with bids and offers. When a deal is made, it is a match between the buyer and seller on variables such as price, volume and delivery costs.
Reverse auctions are buyer-controlled events and are used to attract bids, with the lowest bid winning. Buyers post details of the goods they want to buy and suppliers compete to provide them.