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An e-commerce transaction is the sale or purchase of goods or services, conducted over computer networks by methods specifically designed for the purpose of receiving or placing of orders. The goods or services are ordered by those methods, but the payment and the ultimate delivery of the goods or services do not have to be conducted online. An e-commerce transaction can be between enterprises, households, individuals, governments, and other public or private organisations. To be included are orders made over the web, extranet or electronic data interchange. The type is defined by the method of placing the order. To be excluded are orders made by telephone calls, facsimile or manually typed e-mail.

Measuring electronic commerce is difficult for a number of reasons including defining what constitutes electronic commerce, the speed of its growth and evolution and the fact that in many cases firms conduct both electronic commerce and traditional commerce simultaneously.

Quantifying the value associated with electronic commerce activities can be challenging since many of its key qualities -- convenience, variety and ease of access to information -- are difficult to measure. This leads to a situation where it appears unlikely that official statistical offices will be able to provide accurate statistics on electronic commerce and quantitative insight into the nature of this activity will have to rely on private providers of data which suffer from a number of shortcomings, not the least of which is a transparent definition of what is meant by electronic commerce.

Source Publication:
OECD Guide to Measuring the Information Society, 2011.


Statistical Theme: Information and communication technology

Created on Monday, August 5, 2002

Last updated on Thursday, January 17, 2013