E-Commerce Glossary


E-Commerce has a language all of its own that is constantly growing and developing. For newcomers and experienced online retailers alike, the multitude of technical terms can be overwhelming. In this blog article, we want to decode the ABCs of e-commerce to make it easier for you to navigate the world of digital commerce.

Technological innovations, particularly developments in artificial intelligence, and changing customer expectations are heralding a turning point in e-commerce. What was considered a competitive advantage yesterday is often standard today. You should therefore be familiar with the current industry vocabulary in this dynamic sector and gain an insight into the latest developments in order to further strengthen your competitive position. According to Statista, E-Commerce only goes in one direction: upwards. Global E-Commerce sales are expected to increase continuously by a total of EUR 1.8 trillion (+59.5 per cent) between 2024 and 2029. In 2029, it is expected to amount to an estimated 4.7 trillion euros and thus reach a new high.

E-Commerce Terminology

Here is a selection of the most popular terms in E-Commerce:

  • Subscription Commerce: Subscription-based business models that offer regular deliveries or services.
  • Augmented Reality (AR): Augmented Reality is a concept that uses technical devices to add virtual aspects to the real world. In E-Commerce, this refers to the use of augmented reality for product presentation.
  • BNPL: BNPL stands for “Buy Now, Pay Later”. This allows the customer to buy goods on credit. Payment is made after a fixed interest-free period or in instalments.
  • BOPIS: The abbreviation BOPIS stands for “Buy Online, Pickup in Store”. This allows customers to buy goods online and then collect them from the shop.
  • Composable Commerce: Is an approach to optimise the customer experience architecture in E-Commerce. Instead of using a complete system, individual core functions or components of E-Commerce solutions are used and put together individually for the respective company. By combining different providers or their best solutions, top performance is achieved in the specific E-Commerce use cases.
  • Conversational Commerce: Conversational commerce is a sub-sector of E-Commerce and encompasses all dialogue-oriented trading activities between customers and companies. Digital communication takes place in real time from human-to-human or between human and software. Conversational commerce includes online commerce via voice assistants (V-Commerce), messaging services (e.g. WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger) and chatbots.
  • Cross-Shopping: In Cross-Shopping, one and the same consumer explores products from several retailers or different brands in order to find the best offer for them.
  • CUI: Is an abbreviation for Conversational User Interfaces. This refers to a user interface for computers that emulates a conversation with a real person – such as chatbots, voice assistants or messenger services.
  • Curated Shopping: Curated Shopping is also known as Curated E-Commerce. This refers to a service that enhances the online shopping experience with personalised advice. At the beginning, customers state their preferences and receive a selection of products based on a personal consultation. It is easy to return items that do not meet your expectations.
  • Cyber Monday: Cyber Monday, originally the digital equivalent of Black Friday, is the second biggest shopping day of the year and takes place on the Monday after Thanksgiving (between 26 November and 2 December).
  • Direct-to-Consumer: D2C, for short, is a sales model in which companies approach customers directly with their products or services. There are no intermediaries or platforms.
  • Dropshipping: Dropshipping is a form of E-Commerce in which the seller does not have the goods in stock, but has them delivered to the customer by the wholesaler or manufacturer after the order has been received. The seller is responsible for marketing and sales, while the logistics are handled by the supplier.
  • F-Commerce: F-Commerce is a variant of E-Commerce in which trade takes place via Facebook. The social network is the sales channel here.
  • Headless Commerce: Headless Commerce is a software approach for E-Commerce systems. Here, the front-end is separated from the back-end. Therefore, the frontend and backend exist and function independently of each other.
  • Hyperpersonalisation: Hyperpersonalisation is a refined form of personalised customer approach and describes the full inclusion of all available information when communicating with customers (real-time and behavioural data).
  • Lightning Deals: Lightning Deals are special offers that are limited in time and offer discounts on selected products for a short period of time.
  • Live Commerce: Live Commerce refers to events where products and services are offered and sold in a live stream on digital platforms. Social media channels such as Instagram or Facebook are predestined for this, as are video portals such as YouTube. Television sales are not included.
  • Loyalty Program: This is a customer loyalty programme in which shoppers are offered discounts for their loyalty. Membership of the relevant programme is a prerequisite for taking advantage of the benefits.
  • M-Commerce: M-Commerce or Mobile Commerce is a further development of E-Commerce and refers to digital purchasing via a mobile device such as a smartphone.
  • Re-Commerce: Re-Commerce is a combination of E-Commerce and Re, where the Re stands for the words “again” or “back”. This refers to the trade in used products via online platforms, i.e. second-hand products.
  • Reverse Commerce: Another term for Re-Commerce.
  • ROPO: ROPO stands for “Research Online, Purchase Offline” and describes a purchasing process in which the customer researches online and then buys offline, i.e. in a shop.
  • S-Commerce: S-Commerce, or Social Commerce, is a form of E-Commerce in which sales are made via an established social media platform (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Pinterest).
  • Smart Search Engine: Are intelligent search engines that use advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning to process search queries.
  • UGC: UCG is an abbreviation for User-Generated Content. This refers to original, brand-specific content created by customers and published on social media or other channels.
  • Unified Commerce: Unified Commerce is the next evolutionary stage of the omnichannel strategy. The front-end and back-end systems of all of an online retailer’s channels are connected via one platform and centralised in a single software platform.
  • Voice Commerce: Voice Commerce (also known as V-Commerce or voice-powered commerce) is a sub-sector of Conversational Commerce in which goods or services are offered and sold via voice assistants (e.g. Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant). Users of smart devices can order goods or services simply by voice command. The use of voice assistants (Alexa and Siri) for shopping is gaining popularity.
  • VPB: VPB is an abbreviation for Virtual Product Bundling. Digital products or services are bundled and sold as a package (e.g. software, e-books, online courses or digital subscriptions combined in a single package).
  • VR: VR stands for “Virtual Reality” and refers to a computer-generated, interactive reality. In E-Commerce, this refers to the use of virtual reality for product presentation.

Final thought: E-Commerce Glossary

This E-Commerce glossary is of course only a stepping stone into the deeper waters of E-Commerce. Each of these terms can fill books, and new concepts and strategies are constantly emerging. E-Commerce is a dynamic field that requires adaptability and constant learning. Whether you’re an aspiring online retailer or a digital veteran, mastering the basics is the key to success in this digital arena. And if you want to look up other terms, just take a look at our Marketing Glossary!

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