E-commerce is a doubt promised a bright future, for two reasons. First of all, the fashions that wear it in successive waves have trouble spending a summer, a winter or a spring. The cycles of these modes are also shorter and shorter. The first mode, the B to C, was buried in the United States in late 1999, early 2000. Only Santa Claus still seems to believe so much the press presents it every end of the year as the possible savior of B to C (” and if consumers were this year shopping for Christmas on the Net … “).
He succeeded that of the B to B that did not spend the summer of 2000, extended despite everything at the entrance of winter by a comet tail, that of the electronic market places, today threatened to disappear also in the trap to consultants. Then came the shooting star of the m-business: as soon as it was glimpsed, as soon as it was darkened by the gloomy predictions about the future of UMTS.
The observer of Top Directory of E-commerce Companies looks with amusement at these ephemeral fashions, seduced even by the ability of e-magicians to bring as many rabbits out of their hats. The situation is less funny for investors because these beliefs – fairly close to self-intoxication – are not only speculations, they arouse investment decisions and especially funding. Basically, during the fashion an investor can be financed indiscriminately, after no one will want to finance it. It’s not just the trade that is getting binarized, it’s funding too.
But the constant forward flight of burning what has been praised yesterday ends up undermining the credibility of the speech. So today the latest fashion is to doubt e-commerce itself. Here we come back to the second doubt, a doubt of existence because no one knows exactly what exactly is the phenomenon we are talking about so much. It is rarely found even in scholarly articles. And when you try it, it’s Pandora’s box: four readings and it’s already an anthology of definitions. So prudence orders her to close the lid and act as if everyone knew. E-commerce seems destined to be obvious.
An obvious promise to the most beautiful future. Because the numbers prove it. Double-digit or even triple-digit growth rates are regularly announced. Yet we have not seen anything yet: the exponential growth is for tomorrow. It is rare to find a graph where the growth curve does not mark a sharp inflection point at t + 1.
Almost all of these figures have no methodological basis: the reader does not know what they are taking in account and even less how the calculations were made. But they are not without interest because they indicate the beliefs failing to measure the phenomenon. But beliefs converge and there will be no exception: e-commerce is undoubtedly called to develop. How? Nobody knows it too much. But surely, yes.
We are thus confronted with a paradoxical prescription: “electronic commerce, you will doubt; of his future, no. ” This is a bit of the current situation, a sort of mixture between a skepticism about the phenomenon itself and the strong conviction that it has a future. Hence the question to which this article attempts to answer: how can the object of a doubt be simultaneously invested with a future?
To do this, the first step is to highlight the difficulty of defining and measuring the phenomenon of electronic commerce. After recalling the diversity of definitions, the article successively proposes to limit the field – often too broad – of the activities concerned then to open, within this field, the definition – often too restrictive – of electronic commerce. It is also proposed to abandon the category of electronic commerce, which can not, by nature, reflect the phenomenon that our beliefs agree that it has a future. So we lift the paradox because it is not the phenomenon that is in question but its current form of enunciation.