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 You are in: Special Report: 1998: 12/98: E-commerce  
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E-commerce Wednesday, 16 December, 1998, 14:51 GMT
How e-shopping works
Worried about putting your credit card online? Or maybe you're just new to the Net? BBC News Online explains what happens when you buy something over the Internet.

E-commerce
1. Jane decides to buy a book. At an online book shop, she selects the book and decides how to pay: credit card, debit card or electronic cash. Using secure server software, the Website encrypts the order (title, method of payment, shipping location) and sends it across the Net to the Web storefront.

2. The book shop receives Jane's order, checks on availability, and waits for its bank to check Jane's credit.

3. Jane's credit card information is not sent to the bank on the Internet but on a secure network that keeps out hackers. The bank decrypts Jane's charge and puts it into the bank network's format.

4. The bank checks Jane's credit, then sends the purchase authorisation to the book shop.

5. The shop tells Jane that her purchase is authorised, when it will ship, and instructs its warehouse to send Jane's book.

6. Jane's order is shipped, her preferences noted in a marketing database, the sale recorded in accounting, and the money collected through treasury.

Note: Online merchants process orders in various ways. This is a common e-commerce strategy used by Web success stories like Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Links to more E-commerce stories are at the foot of the page.


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