E-commerce, short for electronic commerce, refers to the buying and selling of goods and services through electronic means, such as the internet. In simple terms, it is the process of conducting business transactions over the internet.

In an e-commerce transaction, buyers search for products or services on websites, social media platforms, and other online marketplaces. Sellers, on the other hand, use these platforms to showcase their products, interact with potential customers, and accept payments.

The primary functions of e-commerce are as follows:

1. Convenience: E-commerce allows consumers to shop from anywhere and at any time, as long as they have an internet connection. This convenience helps businesses reach a broader audience.

2. Increased reach: The internet has no geographic boundaries, and e-commerce enables businesses to sell their products worldwide.

3. Personalization: Businesses can use data collected from users to tailor their marketing efforts to specific demographics, increasing engagement and potential sales.

4. Cost-effective: E-commerce eliminates many traditional costs associated with brick-and-mortar retail stores, such as rent, utilities, and staffing.

5. Scalability: E-commerce platforms allow businesses to easily scale up or down as needed without significant overhead costs.

6. Inventory management: E-commerce platforms provide real-time inventory management and analytics, allowing businesses to optimize their stock levels and avoid overstocking or stockouts.

7. Secure Transactions: E-commerce platforms implement secure payment gateways to protect customer financial information against fraud or theft.

In conclusion, e-commerce provides numerous benefits for both businesses and consumers, making it an essential part of modern-day commerce.