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Retailing focuses on the final transaction, with the business and the customer (B2C). This is in contrast with business to business transactions (B2B) which still remains the largest sector for transactions (about 80% of all transactions). Emerging sectors, are consumer to business (C2B, Example: Priceline) and consumer to consumer (C2C, Example: EBay) transactions. These sectors are able to take advantage of the hypertext nature of this medium to evolve into a potentially major sector within the retail industry. Previous to the web, these sectors played an insignificant role in retailing. Thus we will consider B2C, C2C and C2B as being retailing transactions, as they are all transactions facilitated by a business, and involving the final consumer.
We should also consider the broader impact of the web on retailing. While it may not be the facilitator for the final transaction between the customer and the business (or other customer in the case of C2C), it may still play a role. Thus when a consumer purchases a car, she may not purchase the car via the web, but may use the web to do a significant part of the research (80% of car buyers do this). Thus the web's overall impact on retailing extends beyond its total impact on transactions via the web, but also plays a role in educating the consumer to make the right choice throughout the consumer purchasing process.E-tailing can be considered another form of non-store retailing. Its closest "cousin", in terms of other forms of non-store retailing, is catalog retailing. Catalog retailing accounts for about 10% of all retail transactions. It is therefore instructive to compare e-tailing to catalog retailing to gain some insight into its potential impact. Catalog retailing, which evolved over a century ago, grew rapidly in its early stages (similar to e-tailing) and it was assumed to become a very important part of the overall retailing environment. It allowed people to shop from home, when they wanted, at their own convenience. While this proved enticing for some consumers and some types of products, there appeared to be a limit to its overall impact (rapid growth to 10% of retail transactions, limited growth thereafter).
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