There's more to e-commerce than just online shopping. It includes the online process of developing, marketing, selling, delivering, servicing and paying for products and services. As e-commerce is still an emerging field, retailers and governments are working hard to keep up with the latest developments. The world of e-commerce opens up many legal, ethical, strategic and technical questions, making it an interesting topic for graduate studies.
Laws around e-commerce are quickly evolving to match the complexity of contemporary commercial law. There are many areas of regulation, including consumer privacy and security, the commercial use of emails, Web advertising and online transactions. It may be worthwhile to dive into a specific law and examine its definition, scope, reach and effectiveness. Questions you think of may include of the following: Are current laws able to keep up with the changes of the Internet? How effective is legislation in preventing fraud and other commercial crimes? Study specific cases and compare the e-commerce laws of different countries to give your thesis more weight.
There are many ways to tackle the subject of e-commerce from a retailer's perspective. Keeping in mind that the goal is to sell something, what are some of the challenges unique to the Web environment? You can do a case study on current and past examples of success and failure, research on the various elements of online marketing or propose new e-business strategies. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, focus on one specific element and ask questions around it. For example, you can concentrate on how to maximize sales through social media or how to control branding in social media. One good thing about the Web platform is that you can find the exact number of hits, followers and sometimes even sales, making statistical analysis and information gathering much easier.
Security and Trust
People still perceive online transactions to be less secure than physical transactions. Although Internet security has become quite sophisticated over the years, many issues still remain. What are the risks? Are these perceptions or are these legitimate? Who is ultimately responsible for mitigating risks -- the retailer, consumer or government? There is also an entire industry dedicated to building security infrastructure. Research on the latest technology to determine its advantages, disadvantages and scope. Look into the psychology of trust in e-commerce if you are less-technically inclined.
In many countries, there are far more mobile users than computer users. With the rise of smart phones, tablets and e-readers, many organizations are jumping on the mobile portal and mobile app bandwagon. Questions worth asking include: What are the differences between mobile e-commerce and conventional e-commerce? What are the limits of doing business the mobile way? Where is it heading? Look at some of the most successful mobile business models, and distinguish what makes them popular. Is it because the service is good, or is it because of a device promotes or imposes its exclusive use? The world of mobile e-commerce is still so new in 2011, no one has yet agreed on what works and what doesn't.
Technical and Transactional Issues
The technical requirements of e-commerce are increasing every day. Ultimately it's about usability. The easier it is to navigate through a sale, the more money the vendor generates. What are the technical solutions that enhance e-commerce? What is the monetary impact of well-designed websites? There are many areas of concern when it comes to online payments. Follow the money -- inspect the evolution of electronic payment and research its pros and cons. Browse through some of the more common complaints and you may just stumble upon a major topic.