Ask an average Internet user to describe what eCommerce means and the response will largely be something along the lines of buying goods online. This broad definition, however, only begins to describe the systems involved in E-Commerce. A citation by Goy et al (2007) of the Ameris Glossary of IT Terms (2005) (which is no longer available) states that “E-Commerce also includes all inter-company and intra-company functions (such as marketing, finance, manufacturing, selling, and negotiation) that enable commerce and use electronic mail, EDI, file transfer, fax, video conferencing, workflow, or interaction with a remote computer. Electronic commerce also includes buying and selling over the Web, electronic funds transfer, smart cards, digital cash and all other ways of doing business over digital networks.”
At the most basic level, an example of personalisation in eCommerce would be web sites which allow visitors simply to choose their language and navigate their site in that language. Without this important personalisation, given that these sites are aimed at visitors, a large portion of their web traffic would be lost. At the higher customisation/personalisation level sites allow their customers to change the appearance of the website and push personalised content at the user based on their online behaviour.
“Merchants can target their marketing messages to specific individuals by adjusting the message to a person’s name, interests, and past purchases” Laudon & Traver (2010, p 17). Amazon was the first site to bring customisation and personalisation to the forefront in websites, highlighting that most important reason for an eCommerce site to do this is that if a website makes it easy for a user to purchase something, the result will be growth and increased profit. Even in non-for-profit organisations, personalisation or customisation is important as an interesting and easily usable site is a site more likely to be re-used.
Goy, Ardissono & Petrone (2007) Personalization in E-Commerce Applications [Online]. Available at http://www.di.unito.it/~goy/papers/adWebBook07.pdf (Accessed 8 August 2010).