Advice on how to tackle the second bullet point in the AQA Research brief.
In order to consider the impact of e-commerce on businesses and their functional areas students need to have a basic understanding of: 

  • how traditional commercial transactions differ to electronic commerce.
  • what a business’s functional areas are and, more specifically, the various activities undertaken within each functional area.

How do traditional commercial transactions differ to electronic commerce? 
The main difference between traditional and electronic commerce is that the former involves paper-based and manual processing of business transactions with exchanges that take place either face to face or via telephone lines or mail systems, whereas the latter involves automated transactions (ie the use of mechanical devices, including computers to carry out operational tasks) with minimal human intervention, with exchanges that take place over the Internet or other computer networks.
What are Business functions? 
These concern the various related activities that need to be undertaken in order to fulfil a business’s aims and objectives.  They most commonly include:
Accounting and Finance: This function concerns the control of money in and out of the business.  It involves securing appropriate finance to fund strategy to achieve the business’s aims and objectives, setting targets for expenditure (budgets), recording all monetary transactions, producing documents and reports for tax purposes, as well as monitoring and assessing the performance of the business against targets and competitors.
Marketing: This concerns identifying customer requirements, and developing and selling a product (ie good or service) that satisfies these requirements.  It links the business with consumer needs, to get the right product at the right price, in the right place, at the right time.  It not only concerns decisions about features and characteristics of products, but pricing, promotion and distribution (ie how to physically get the product to the intended end-customer / consumer).  Researching customers and competitors to identify improvements forms a large part of the marketing process, as does building good relations with customers to establish sales and encourage loyalty.
Operations: This concerns the physical organisation of resources to ensure customer requirements are met, and as such, involves decisions about plant layout, methods of production and / or service delivery, suppliers, stock control and quality control.  Providing a product and / or service that meets customer expectations (before, during and after purchases) is crucial to successful operations management.
Human Resources: This concerns securing and managing employees with the skills, qualifications, and qualities required to achieve the businesses objectives.  It includes recruitment, selection, pay, working conditions, appraisal, training and development, promotion, discipline, health and safety, and the overall welfare of employees.
After reviewing the above, students can start to consider the following:
How can E-commerce impact upon businesses’…
– accounting and finance function?
– marketing function?
– operations?
– human resources?
We will be including information and research on all of the above within our Complete Companion for use with the theme, which is due to be published by the 30th November and can be pre-ordered now.  In the meantime, look out for further emails from us with advice and tips on how to approach the theme.
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