Online shopping is a form of electronic commerce which allows consumers to directly buy goods or services from a seller over the Internet using a web browser. Consumers find a product of interest by visiting the website of the retailer directly or by searching among alternative vendors using a shopping search engine, which displays the same product’s availability and pricing at different e-retailers. As of 2016, customers can shop online using a range of different computers and devices, including desktop computers, laptops, tablet computers and smartphones.
An online shop evokes the physical analogy of buying products or services at a regular “bricks-and-mortar” retailer or shopping center; the process is called business-to-consumer (B2C) online shopping. When an online store is set up to enable businesses to buy from another businesses, the process is called business-to-business (B2B) online shopping. A typical online store enables the customer to browse the firm’s range of products and services, view photos or images of the products, along with information about the product specifications, features and prices.
One of the earliest forms of trade conducted online was IBM’s online transaction processing (OLTP) developed in the 1960s and it allowed the processing of financial transactions in real-time. The computerized ticket reservation system developed for American Airlines called Semi-Automatic Business Research Environment (SABRE) was one of its applications. Here, computer terminals located in different travel agencies were linked to a large IBM mainframe computer, which processed transactions simultaneously and coordinated them so that all travel agents had access to the same information at the same time
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