As long as supply chain may involve all kinds of product movements, either physical or virtual, this process occurs both in real-life business and in electronic business. Electronic business became rather distributed lately, and this area of business should be treated equally serious.
E-business presents any kind of business process that is based on automated information systems. With the development of computer technologies and especially Internet e-business began playing significant role in business in general. In e-business, all the components of regular commerce are included, presenting more flexible and efficient system than offline business. Such important part of business as supply chain presents in e-business process among other important elements of commerce area. In this sphere, almost every product transformation is made through virtual net, mostly via the World Wide Web, and there exist no branch of business that is not represented onto the Internet sites nowadays. The major distinction of supply chain in the electronic business from that of the regular business is the convenience of data exchange. As the process is conducted within networks with help of special applications, some phases of supply chain management are made very quickly even between participants in different countries. The most distributed business models within electronic business are so-called Business-to-Business (b2b) and Business-to-Consumer (b2c). These types of e-business present the demonstrative examples of application of supply chain management in e-business.
Business-to-business is the form of organization that heads its product or service to other organizations, firms, or enterprises rather than to the end consumer. For example, the Internet shop that offers details for microwave ovens and coffee-machines will interest the firm that offers kitchen equipment and service. The end consumer would not find this offer useful. Therefore, b2b is a type of e-business that occurs between organizations. On the other hand, business-to-consumer is a form of business aimed to the direct consumers. For instance, the internet-shop offering coffee-machines and related services is a b2c organization. In terms of supply chain, the b2b stage usually precedes the movement of product to end consumer (b2c stage). Therefore, the supply chains in these forms of e-business differ. It is obvious that the supply chain in b2c is longer, as it includes the entire process of product/service movement from the supplier to buyer. Hence, the minimal supply chain in b2c consists of supplier, manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, and end consumer. On the other hand, the supply chain in b2b includes manufacturers, suppliers, and other organizations, excluding retailers and consumers. The b2b supply chain is shorter, involving smaller number of product transformations and movements. Oftentimes the supply chain in b2b involves only one or two participants.
Represented on the Internet sites in the worldwide web, e-business organizations have a great number of advantages over offline business firms. The supply chain within electronic business is more flexible and effective due to more convenient and speedy data exchange process. Among all the e-business models, the shortest and more effective supply chain belongs to b2b sites.
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