What Does it Mean to Study E-Commerce?
A college degree in e-commerce combines the foresight and analysis of a business and marketing education with the constantly shifting principles of electronic retailing.
The rise of electronic business has changed the way traditional firms operate and structure their organizations. With the Internet connecting businesses to customers halfway around the world, e-commerce has opened up the global market in ways that may have once seemed impossible. E-commerce operations can exist as stand-alone businesses or serve as a tool for traditional merchandisers, presenting innovative ways to reach customers.
E-Commerce College Degrees
A business degree program in e-commerce combines economic principles with software applications to help you use the Internet to create business opportunities. You may find yourself working within an online existing business or as an entrepreneur for your own e-marketing venture. Your job roles can include market research, product buying decisions, and Web design or maintenance.
Internet marketing employs a new set of business strategies, so your e-business degree program needs to reflect these changes. A standard e-commerce degree has two areas of study. The business side can include management, organization behavior, critical thinking, research and evaluation, financial analysis, and marketing. Technology courses should include business system development, project planning, operating systems, programming, databases, networks and telecommunications, the Internet and Web, and e-business.
Opportunities can be found at scrappy start-ups around the country, as well as at more established companies that are branching out online. A well-rounded, multidisciplinary background keeps you competitive and helps with your career advancement. Your business and technical education, along with your creative thinking and understanding of consumer behavior is a great package to offer potential employers.
By its very nature, e-commerce is dynamic - constantly changing and evolving. Almost one-third of real economic growth since 1995 has been attributed to Internet sales. This is one profession where you'll need to be aware of the newest trends; of what other e-retailers are doing; and how your product and service compares. It's a very visual way of reaching your users. Your site needs to be attractive, informative, easy to navigate, and responsive, or you'll lose your potential customer.
Types of E-Commerce Degrees
Career education in e-commerce is relatively new. Traditionally, professionals have relied on their marketing or retail credentials and career backgrounds to enter the field. Online college courses in e-business allow students to do both: learning time-honored business principles and cutting-edge technology while getting work experience, perhaps in a related field.
Associate Degrees in E-Commerce
A bachelor's degree is the recognized minimum for any business graduate, but if you're anxious to get into the workforce, you might choose to begin your education with an associate degree in ecommerce. Students in these programs learn the basics of business, management, and marketing with an introduction to computer fundamentals, including trade terminology, and software and hardware selections. From this you can pick up the principles of Internet marketing strategies, transaction security, and profit projections for e-commerce ventures. You may also learn about the basics of web site design and development, and the new legal and ethical issues that pertain to multimedia use, copyrights, and privacy concerns.
Bachelor's Degrees in E-Commerce
At the bachelor's level, you'll build on your previous business experience by developing knowledge of the latest software and ecommerce technology. Coursework generally includes an opportunity to examine real life e-business case studies, work on online team projects, improve your Internet proficiency with web-based problem solving, and get a closer look into systems integration, networks, and telecommunications in e-commerce. Online college classes in ecommerce management are becoming increasingly popular as students seek to build educational and work experience at the same time. With a bachelor's degree, you'll have the skills to be a valuable part of project planning, programming, and marketing teams within this new way of doing business.
Undergraduate Certificates in E-Commerce
An undergraduate certificate in e-commerce management enables non-IT managers, project team members, and other employees working on e-commerce projects to upgrade their skills, developing the practical knowledge necessary to organize the e-commerce effort within the company. An e-commerce management certificate program encourages managers to develop strategies, focusing on organizational structure, control systems, customer service infra-structure, and manage teams for e-commerce initiatives.
What to expect from an E-Commerce Degree
Career paths in e-commerce often mimic traditional profit-making fields -- the only distinction is that transactions are done primarily online. Your client base may be faceless; your ability to draw on personal feedback from customers may be limited. Your presentation and marketing tactics may need to adapt to these unique factors. But there is room for marketing, finance, management, procurement, advertising and distribution specialists within any e-commerce venture.
Products and services are successfully traded over the Internet in increasing numbers. Customers use the Internet to comparison shop at their leisure, with exposure to a greater number of distributors.
Long-established companies have opened up a new marketing avenue through e-commerce, and new companies have sprung up to capitalize on online trading, where startup costs may be lower. Business-to-business (B2B) marketing, travel clearinghouses, publishers, investment firms, and insurance brokers are doing well, and are in need of qualified professionals.
- Online security training: As transaction volumes increase and credit card fraud rises, knowing how to react to and defend against cyberattacks and identity theft has similarly risen in importance.
- Customer service: Whether a position requires interacting with customers or not, companies are often looking for employees who are personable and able to get along with clients, coworkers and the overall company atmosphere.
- Technical support: While hotel bookings are usually formulaic and can be learned, tech support is a more complex function that requires more information and skill. Education, computer know-how, and the ability to do in-depth problem solving can all contribute to this specialization.
- Entrepreneurship: Want to launch your own e-commerce startup? As an entrepreneur, use your self-discipline and determination to bring your vision to fruition. No two days are the same when you're responsible for every aspect of your company, from client care to accounting.
E-Commerce Certification, Licensure and Associations
If you're interested in making broader professional contacts, marketing groups can be an excellent source of networking opportunities and marketing designations that could certainly come in handy as your career progresses. If you are running your own e-commerce company, you may require a business license according to your local regulations.
- The Institute of Certified E-Commerce Consultants offers certification in the field.