Home > Articles > Certification > CompTIA

This chapter is from the book

Business to Consumer (B2C) Commerce

B2C commerce involves transactions initiated by a consumer and conducted with an online retail establishment. Merchants can include a software company, a book or music store, a travel agency, or a bank. B2C commerce commanded tremendous media space in the last couple of years because of its high visibility and the threat that it seemingly posed to traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. It was thought that the digital nature of the products sold and the pervasive nature of the sites enabled new players to change prevailing business models. They set about deconstructing, or taking apart, the value chain that made up the traditional retail model, and then sought to rebuild it around their perceived competitive advantages.

Pure B2C is no longer a threat to offline establishments. Statistics released in late 2000 and early 2001 show online customers are making choices between merchants and not an either/or between online and offline. In fact, during the 2000 holiday season, many click-and-mortar, or hybrid stores, did better as a teamed online/offline business speaking with one voice to the customer!

B2C commerce is differentiated from offline commerce in many different ways, and the deconstructed value chain is one predominant underlying theme. The other is convenience.

By the way, the term "retail vs. e-tail," as with most things concerning the Internet, is a reflection of a compact lexicon. E-tail is the virtual online retail world, one composed of mouse clicks. It is the challenger to the brick-and-mortar retail establishment. We will use e-tail to indicate pure-play online merchants. The other classification is click-and-mortar, which refers to hybrid operations consisting of both an online and offline store.

Amidst the clutter of pure-play Web sites some retailers stand out: Amazon.com, eBay, Charles Schwab, and Edmunds, to name a few. The keys to their success in generating both "mind space" as well as loyal clientele are many and varied.

These sites offer the products and services wanted by customers, amplified by the provision of all the things made possible by the Web. These inherently positive traits for e-tailers include: 1) convenience, 2) selection, 3) quality, 4) content, and 5) service. These attributes are neither unique nor peculiar to online B2C businesses, but are seemingly defendable against brick-and-mortar competitors.

Let's look briefly at these five traits in a little closer detail.

  • Convenience: A good online store is ubiquitous and available 24x7x365. Once the novelty value of online shopping wears off, it is convenience that drives customers to the Web. Supporting features reflect the principles of good Web site design—user friendliness, availability of information, and good search capability. The quality of user experience foretells repeat visits to the site, ending possibly in a transaction and a suggested visit by a friend.

  • Selection: A good, if not exhaustive, selection is mandatory. Unlike stores in the physical world, though, selection is virtual because of the relative ease of storing information about products versus the products themselves. Intuitive navigation and a good search tool makes location of product by attribute easier, and this hastens conversion of browsers into buyers. Breadth of product is especially important for drop-ship stores.

  • Quality: On the Internet the reputation of a retailer is considerably enhanced if sites are constructed upon foundations of quality. At eBay, for instance, the auction site has a robust system of user ratings on both buyers and sellers: one point for positive comments, zero for neutral responses, and minus one for negative feedback. Anyone racking up a score of minus four forfeits the right to use the service.

    Thus, quality refers to the quality of the product or service sold and its delivery, as well as in generating customer feedback. The integrity of this gesture is measured by how well the merchant acts upon them. It has implications for the quality of relationships all along the value chain—from suppliers to end customers.

  • Content: Information content in an online market can be measured along several dimensions: information about the customers and their needs, information about the products or services, and information that users have and share.

    The Web presents many opportunities to gather and disseminate information from a variety of sources. Information about customers and their buying patterns can be monitored continuously to customize offerings that reflect understanding gained from that knowledge. Information about products being sold is dependent on availability of exhaustive catalog information and responsiveness to customer inquiries. Breadth and depth of content (catalogs of products being measured this way) are also important in rating content quality, and are intimately linked to selection.

    In fact, if it is not obvious by now, we must state here that all of these traits, qualities, and factors are interrelated. They are very difficult to remove, isolate, and examine out of their original context. This is one of the unique qualities associated with the online world: its interlocking relationships.

    The last content dimension, the willingness of users to share their knowledge, is especially pertinent to a Web presence owing to its singular ability to link a product's quality or specification to comments of other users. As noted above, quality is dependent upon customer feedback. With Amazon and eBay, integration of content and quality takes the form of reviews and feedback by customers on products they may have purchased or sold and then self-rated.

    Because content is so important, we devote an entire chapter to it, Chapter 4, "The Content Stack."

  • Service: Service, specifically customer service, is an important but largely missing ingredient on the Internet. While automation produces efficiency, it can also make the experience impersonal. In turn, this results in low customer retention.

    On the Web, good customer service can be addressed with feedback, prompt handling of questions and complaints, and in how well the merchant provides a smooth, trouble-free method to handle returns and refunds. When handled well, this often turns a negative experience into a positive one. It is ironic that on the Web the term personalization can mean customized automation within the online glossary.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020