E-commerce is a term used to describe business conducted using electronic means. Young in 1995 stated that "Electronic Commerce is the buying and selling of goods and services where part, if not all, of commercial transaction occurs over an electronic medium." E-commerce utilizes different types of networks, like VAN, the Internet, intranet, and extranet. VAN is a network where the service provider provides the transport network and services for document interchange, mainly electronic data interchange (EDI) applications. EDI is about doing business and carrying out transactions with trading partners electronically. EDI covers most things that are done using paper-based communication, for example, placing orders with suppliers and carrying out financial transactions. This is why the term "paperless trading" is often used to describe EDI (Cloberg, 1995). The Internet is a global network and does not have a single owner or a centralized administrator or control. Intranets are internal networks that are built in organizations to utilize Internet technologies. In order to provide security between the Internet and intranet, firewalls are utilized.
E-commerce helps to break down traditional barriers of geography, time, and size. Location, time of access, and the size of the organization does not matter anymore on the Internet (Chin & Chua, 2000). Figures from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) show that online stock trading is the Internet's killer application in Asia. It is also the second-largest retail e-commerce category, after hardware and software sales. The number of women online shoppers is set to increase as more are getting connected to the Internet and e-tailers. And, e-retailers are starting to target them. In small countries like Singapore and Hong Kong, online retailers will have tough competition with "bricks-and-mortar" rivals. The reason is that most shoppers find it easy and convenient to go to the shops situated next door, compared to that in bigger countries like Australia and the United States.
According to the e-commerce director for Barclays Stockbrokers, Phillip Bungey, WAP technology will enable information to find the client, as opposed to the other way around, and it will make transactions possible on the move. The company will provide proactive personalized market information to its clients by using WAP technology (www.hp.com). This information is also known as "push" information, where users can personalize the information received. A combination of geographical positioning system (GPS) service and WAP service could provide location-based services. An example of such service is the WAP-based "Restaurant Finder," where information like restaurant phone number, address, menu details, pricing, etc., are gathered and delivered to customers' mobile devices wherever they are. This is made possible by producing a location-based WAP service, combining location with content to the mobile users. The aim is to provide a convenient and easy-to-use WAP service.
Wireless chats and e-mails, multiplayer gaming, friend finder, and preloaded software (that provides personal planner, diary, organizer, alarm clock, and calculator) are available in the United States (http://inf2.pira.co.uk/top002.htm). Besides providing entertainment and personal management software, other service providers, such as CNN Mobile and Reuters Wireless Services, have been providing news, weather, and stock market information to subscribers' phones. With mobile service, users have the power to trade locally and globally. They will also not miss any opportunity to trade. Moreover, the service is promised to be easy and convenient, by merely pushing a few buttons on the mobile phone. Fast-food chains like Kentucky Fried Chicken, Edo Sushi, and Pizza Hut introduced ordering through Internet. Besides being able to order food through the Internet, customers are also able to do it using WAP-enabled gadgets. This is one of Singapore's fast-food portals. A customer is required to log on to the fast-foods.net site on his WAP device to get the service (Oo, 2000).The Internet version of fast-foods.net has received over 3000 orders since it was launched in March 2000.