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 Ecommerce Glossary 
 Ecommerce & Online Shopping Glossary




Access Provider

A company that provides a service to access the Internet for its customers, usually via a modem using a dial-up connection or via a dedicated line.

Account Number

A unique sequence of numbers assigned to a cardholder account that identifies the issuer and type of financial transaction card.


A small program (usually written in Java or ActiveX) that is downloaded to perform a small task on a computer, such as a particular interactive web page function.


A piece of writing designed to inform readers about something; generally the subject of the written work itself. For Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes, articles create webpages and links for websites which generally help to boost the popularity and exposure of a website or product. Sites may link to a particular article, which in turn, link back to website, further boosting its link popularity. Effective marketing campaigns usually employ this sort of tactic.

Article Writing

The process of writing and style of writing articles. In this context, article writing refers to producing written work that informs readers about a specific product or service. Companies usually have copywriters or teams of copywriters who produce written articles for certain products or websites, which hopefully boost link popularity for the original site as well as give exposure to a product.


The process of identification of individuals and businesses using digital certificates.</p>


The act of ensuring the cardholder has adequate funds available against his line of credit. A positive authorization results in an authorization code being generated, and those funds being set aside. The cardholder's available credit limit is reduced by the authorized amount.


B2B (Business to Business)

Electronic trade, exchange of goods and services or partnering between organizations (often over an extranet or e-marketplace). Current volumes of e-business activity are around 90 per cent B2B, with the remainder being accounted for by B2C e-commerce.

B2C (Business to Consumer)

Electronic trade (e-commerce), exchange of goods and services between businesses and end consumers (as opposed to B2B e-business between organizations alone) with the end consumer being the target market.


The term bandwidth has a number of technical meanings but since the popularization of the Internet, it has generally referred to the volume of information per unit of time that a transmission medium (like an Internet connection) can handle.


Shortened version of the term "web log". A blog is a website that is usually maintained by an individual or organization with regular entries with information about events, commentary, or other information. Similar to a journal, many blogs are used to describe personal experiences as well. Popular "blogging" outfits include Blogger and LiveJournal. Blogs are useful SEO tools in ways similar to articles in that they give exposure to a product, good, service, or website, as well as a link to the original website, boosting link popularity. Like an article, this tactic is essential to an effective marketing campaign.


Short for 'Web Browser,' the tool (program) that allows users to surf the Web. The most popular Web browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.

Business Day

Those days when most corporate and government offices are open for business, usually any day except Saturday, Sunday and legal holidays. The business day begins at 9:00 AM for a 24-hour period.



An area of computer memory (either held on a chip or else on a hard disk) that is used to temporally store data files in order to increase the speed of access to them.


The person to whom a financial transaction card is issued or an additional person authorized to use the card.

Certificate Authority

A third party company that issues digital certificates that confirms a company or individuals' identification. A digital certificate is a crucial part of secure ecommerce.


Where a transaction is debited against a merchant account in cases of refunds and fraud. Chargebacks usually attract a fee that is debited against the merchant. Online Shoppers may be eligible for chargeback if they never received the products or services they paid for. Contact your credit card company for more information.


Where two companies identify a partnership between them through one company displaying their logos, color schemes etc on another companies application.

Commerce Server

A Web server that contains the software necessary for processing customer orders via the Web, including shopping cart programs, dynamic inventory databases, and online payment systems. Commerce servers are usually also secure servers.


Small text files stored on your computer when visiting a site that record preference for that particular site's usage. They make it possible to remind that site about you the next time you visit it. Cookies are also common in shopping cart applications in order to remember visitors as they move throughout product pages.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

The entire process of a pre-sales, sales and service relationship with a customer. Many software applications are now available that permit you to record this relationship from the time the clients asks their first question. Good CRM software is much more efficient than fragmented records as it can save time in tracking communications and transactions with a particular person.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

A style sheet language used to describe the presentation of a document written in a markup language. Its most common application is to style web pages written in languages like HTML. CSS can be used locally by the readers of web pages to define colors, fonts, layout, and other aspects of document presentation. It is designed primarily to enable the separation of document content (written in HTML or a similar markup language) from document presentation (written in CSS).


The practice of digitally "scrambling" a message using a secret key or keys.


A term coined by the science-fiction novelist, William Gibson, in his fantasy novel, Neuromancer. Used to describe the 'world' of computers. Used as a reference to the 'Internet.'

Humanity's 'consensual hallucination' of the realm of pure information used for computer processing, communications and data representation. Cyberspace is a metaphor that helps people to cope with the inherent complexity of worldwide, hyperlinked, multimedia computer networking. Not to be confused with the technological infrastructures of computing and telecommunications networks, cyberspace is hence best understood as a mental land of shared ideas with the defining purpose of enabling human beings to conceptually and usefully get a grip on the pet ghosts in their machines.



A file or file system containing organized information and, most commonly, a filing and retrieval system for storing information. Most database software also includes tools for data analysis. Examples of database software include Oracle, Microsoft Access, Sybase, and MySQL.

DES (Data Encryption Standard)

A popular standard encryption scheme.

Digital Cash

Two main mechanisms in that "digital coins" can be downloaded to the user's PC from a participating bank, or the set up of a digital money account with a bank. Both (encrypted) forms of cash can be sent to merchants for payment.

Digital Certificate

Online identification that authenticates a consumer, merchant and a financial institution. Digital certificates are used to encrypt information exchanged in SET transactions. A certificate is a public key that has been digitally signed by a trusted authority (the financial institution) to identify the user of the public key.

Digital Signatures

An electronic signature, which cannot be forged. Instead it is generated from a computed digest of the text that is encrypted and sent with the text message. The recipient decrypts the signature and retrieves the digest from the received text. If the digests match, the message is authenticated and proved to be from the sender.

Digital Wallet

A consumer account set up to allow e-commerce transactions through a particular credit card processing system. Before the consumer can make a purchase, he or she must first establish an account with the credit card processor, who provides an ID and password. These can then be used to make purchases at any Web site that supports that transaction system.

DNS (Domain Name System)

A general-purpose data query service whose principal use is the lookup of host addresses based on host names. Important domains are .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .net (network), .gov (U.S. government), .mil (U.S. military) and .org (organization).


A designation for particular location on the Internet. A domain, for example "," contains files that make up the content of Web pages under that address. and are different Web pages located within the same domain. Domain names are associated with IP addresses.

Down Time

A period when all or part of a system or network is not available to end users due to failure or maintenance.


Copying a file from a Web resource to your computer.



Encompasses all forms of online electronic trading, taking in the more narrowly defined concept of consumer-based (B2C) "e-commerce", plus B2B electronic trading and process integration, as well as the technologies for process integration inside organizations.


The electronic equivalent of a paper check, an E-Check is a form of payment that deducts funds directly from your own standard checking account. eCheck services are usually managed by third party companies that interface with a number of different banks. An echeck provides a more fraud resistant option in terms of ecommerce transactions.

Ecommerce (Electronic Commerce)

The processing of economic transactions, such as buying and selling, through electronic communication. E-commerce often refers to transactions occurring on the Internet, such as credit card purchases at Web sites.

Ecommerce Website

A website that practices the business of Ecommerce - the buying and selling of products, services, or goods over the internet or other computer networks. and Ebay are both examples of eCommerce websites. is a Canadian directory of such Ecommerce Websites.

Electronic Point of Sale

A point-of-sale merchant with electronic equipment for pricing and recording transactions, but not necessarily incorporating functions for electronic funds transfer.

E-mail (Electronic Mail)

A system where a computer user can exchange messages with other computer users (or groups of users) via a communications network.


Process of transforming data into a type that prevents casual observers from deciphering. Data scrambling process automatically takes place in the terminal or computer before data is transmitted for security/anti fraud purposes.

Expiration Date

The date embossed on a bankcard, beyond which the card becomes invalid.


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

A term that refers to a list of questions and corresponding answers provided by companies relating to products they sell, customer service, web site, etc.


A vector-based moving graphics format created by Macromedia for the publication of animations on the world-wide web. Flash (.swf) graphics files can be created in Macromedia's own Flash program, or else in software applications such as Adobe's LiveMotion or Corel's RAVE (real animated vector effects) package. Most web browsers still require a plug-in to be installed before they can play Flash animations.



Computer that allows communications between networks one network with another. Used in ecommerce to act as an interface between a merchant and a bank; i.e, a Payment Gateway.



A portion of the revenue from a merchant's credit card transactions, held in reserve by the merchant account provider to cover possible disputed charges, chargeback fees, and other expenses. After a predetermined time, holdbacks are turned over to the merchant. Note: Merchant account providers almost never pay interest on holdbacks.

Home Page

The page where a user normally enters a Web site. Also contains the major hotlinks to various products/features/contents of the site.

Hosting Provider

A company that provides services for setting up, storage and functioning of Internet resources. Hosting plans from different providers vary in the disk space, included traffic and a range of technologies available for the site functionality.

HTML (Hypertext Mark-Up Language)

The language used to write pages for the World Wide Web. This language lets the text include codes that define fonts, layout, embedded graphics, and hypertext links.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Porotocol)

The way in which World Wide Web pages are transferred over the Internet.

HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secured)

A variant of HTTP that encrypts messages for security.


A hypertext connection that can take you to another document or another part of the same document. On the World Wide Web, hyperlinks appear as text or pictures that are highlighted. To follow a hyperlink, click the highlighted material.


A system of writing and displaying text that enables the text to be linked in multiple ways, be available at several levels of detail, and contain links to related documents.



A system by which all the computers in the world talk to each other.

Internet Shop

Another common term for an ecommerce business or an ecommerce website. Internet Shops typically sell retail items or general website improvement/enhancement features. They use shopping carts to help consumers buy products, goods, and services.

Internet Shopping

Also known as online shopping, Online shopping is the process in which consumers purchase products, goods, or services over the Internet. An online shop, ecommerce shop, internet shop, webshop, online store, or virtual store, etc. evokes the physical analogy of buying products and services from an actual store. Online stores liken online catalogs to standard mail order catalogs. Currently, most retail stores have web sites where products can purchased from. Online shopping is one of the fastest and convenient ways that consumers can receive products.

Internet Shopping Cart

An Internet Shopping Cart is essentially software that makes a user able to purchase a product, good, or service from an ecommerce website. Similar to a cart or basket at a grocery store, "purchased" goods are kept in a shopping cart until the user is ready to check out and pay. There are many shopping carts available today that range from free to thousands of dollars, depending on the services a customer wants for their own ecommerce website.


A private version of the Internet that lets people within an organization exchange data using popular Internet tools, such as browsers.

IP Address (Internet Protocol Address)

A designation for a particular location on the Internet, such as "140.23.719.6." IP addresses are associated with domain names.

ISP (Internet Service Provider)

Short for Internet Service Provider, a company that provides access to the Internet. For a monthly fee, the service provider gives you a software package, username, password and access phone number.  Equipped with a modem, you can then log on to the Internet and browse the World Wide Web and USENET, and send and receive e-mail.



A programming language frequently used on Web sites. Some Java programs, or "applets" are downloaded from the Web server to the visitor's own computer, which then runs them. This distinguishes Java programs from other Web programming languages, such as PERL, that reside and run on the Web server (only the results are downloaded to the visitor's computer).


A world-wide web programming language that is similar to (if less powerful than) Java, save for the fact that JavaScript coding can be inserted directly into pages of HTML. JavaScript is typically used for interactive effects such as "roll-overs" on web pages (where buttons or other graphics change colour or otherwise when the mouse pointer is moved over them).


Link Exchange

Also known as a banner exchange, a Link Exchange is a group of websites that operates by users exchanging and trading links with each other. Once a great way to improve link popularity and improve your website's ranking, link exchanges are now less popular, and more people are submitting their sites to directories or paying for various Internet marketing campaigns. One negative aspect is that link exchanges potentially distract visitors away to other sites before they have fully explored the site that the original link was on as well as reducing or lowering the "quality" of the website that the link is on if the link is of poor value.

Link Frequency

Link Frequency is the measure of how often your website is linked to from another site, commonly known as Internal Link Frequency. External Link Frequency is the measure of links to other websites that you post on your own website. As discussed in the definition of Directory, it's generally a better idea to have more incoming links than outgoing. Hopefully, these incoming links are high quality and have a high Page Rank.


Magnetic Stripe

A stripe (on the bankcard) of magnetically encoded cardholder account information affixed to a plastic card.


A retailer, or any other person, firm, or corporation that, according to a Merchant Agreement, agrees to accept credit cards, debit cards, or both, when properly presented.

Merchant Account

A special account where money from credit card sales is first routed to and held before transfer to your own business account. This process is usually fully automated in ecommerce transactions. Money may be transferred into your standard business account in real-time or during various points in 24 hour period. A merchant account is a crucial part of ecommerce.

Merchant Fraud

The act of submitting sales drafts which are not the result of legitimate sales for the purpose of defrauding the services, the client bank, or individual cardholders. Fraud includes knowingly accepting lost, stolen, or counterfeit credit cards.


Very small charges, perhaps even less than a penny, processed through e-commerce systems. Until this time, e-commerce has been largely limited to purchases of $10 (U.S.) or more. With micropayments, however, e-commerce merchants can sell products for far lower prices, such as charging small fees for downloading documents or charging per click for online advertising. Micropayment systems are still largely experimental and not widely available.

MIDS (Merchant Identification Number)

Unique merchant identification number that is used in conjunction with all transactions.



Computers that are connected together.


Online Storefront

A Web site containing eCommerce software, available on a public network, such as the Internet, which offers goods and services for sale. An online storefront is the equivalent of a store or place of business that a customer would visit to purchase goods and services. Canada's Online Shopping Mall - is a directory of such online storefronts.


Refers to an applications suitability to be rapidly integrated into an existing system

Operating Rules

Rules and business practices meant to increase consistency and interoperability among the various financial service providers that will interact with each other and end-users. Examples of operating rules include: authorization procedures, settlement timing requirements, audit and accounting rules, and credit limits.


Page Rank

Google's trademarked system of "ranking" a website. Page Rank is a link analysis algorithm that "measures" a site's relative importance within a set of hyperlinked documents. In other words, page rank results from a "ballot" of sorts among other pages on the internet about how important a certain page is and is roughly based upon the quantity of inbound links as well as the importance of the page providing the link. Google assigns a numeric weighting from 0 - 10 which denotes a site's importance in the eyes of Google. The most popular websites have a Page Rank of 10 and the least popular have a "PR" of 0.

Payment System

A set of instructions and procedures used for the transfer of ownership and settlement of obligations arising from the exchange of goods and services.

Payment Threshold

The minimum accumulated commission an affiliate must earn to trigger payment from an affiliate program.

PDF File

A method for distributing formatted documents over the Internet. You need a special reader program called Acrobat, and you can get it at

PIN (Personal Identification Number)

An alphanumeric or numeric code used to verify the identity of an individual attempting to use a credit card, debit card, or other account


A "software add-on" that can be linked into an existing software application in order to give it additional capabilities and enable them to perform additional custom operations.

Press Release

A news or media release that is written or recorded directed at someone with the purpose of claiming something as newsworthy. Very similar to an article, a press release is designed to trigger an immediate response, and to gain publicity for someone or something, and is generally biased towards the objectives of the writer. For SEO purposes, press releases serve as an announcement and advertisement of a product, good, or service. They provide instant exposure and valuable links as well.

Privacy Policy

A Web site's official statement on the type of information collected on a site, how the information will be used, how the person can access this data and the steps for having the data removed. A privacy statement also usually includes information regarding systems that are in place to protect the information of web site visitors. ( view privacy policy of )

Privacy Seal Programs

Independent organizations that verify if an online companies' Privacy Statement is verifiable and accurate. (i.e. BBBOnLine Privacy Program)


An organization that is connected to VISANet and or Banknet and provides authorization and/or clearing and settlement services on behalf of a member.

Public Key

A method of encrypting electronic data. Developed to account for weaknesses in symmetric encryption, public key encryption does not require the transmission of decoding keys themselves.



The verification and processing of credit card transactions immediately following a purchase. Real-time verification on the Web usually takes less than five minutes. Real-time verification is especially important for Web sites that sell products and services that consumers expect immediately, such as memberships to the site or software downloads.

Recurring Fees

Regular, usually monthly, charges for maintaining a merchant account. Recurring fees include the discount rate, transaction fees, statement fee, and monthly minimum.

Recurring Transaction

A transaction charged to the cardholder (with prior permission) on a periodic basis for recurring goods and services, i.e., subscription to internet music channel, book-of-the-month clubs, subscription to internet telephone service, etc.


The reimbursement of the purchase price of a service back to the credit card, for reasons such as faults in product qualities or dissatisfaction with the service provided.

Refund Policy

A written definition of rules concerning the return of payments to the company customer.



The ability and flexibility of an application to meet growing requirements of an organization

Search Engine

A Web Search Engine is designed to search for information on the World Wide Web. Information may consist of web pages, images, videos or other types of files. Some search engines also mine data available in newsgroups, databases, or open directories (directories that are easily edited by users). Unlike web directories, which are maintained by human editors, search engines operate algorithmically or are a mixture of algorithmic and human input. Common search engines include,, and

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines via natural or organic search results for targeted keywords. As a marketing strategy for increasing a site's relevance, SEO considers how search algorithms work and what people search for. SEO efforts may involve link building, a site's coding, presentation, and structure, as well as fixing problems that could prevent indexing by search engines. Other, more noticeable efforts may include adding unique content to a site, ensuring that content is easily indexed by search engine robots, and making the site more appealing to users.

Search Engine Ranking

A measure of the success of a web page or website. Basically, Search Engine Ranking is the placement of a user's website within a search engine's results page after a specific keyword search has been conducted.

Search Engine Spider

Search Engine Spiders, crawlers, and bots are essentially the same thing. They are programs that browse the World Wide Web in a methodical and automated manner. This process is called web crawling or spidering. Many sites, search engines in particular, use spidering as a means of providing up-to-date data. Web crawlers are mainly used to create a copy of all the visited pages for later processing by a search engine that will index the downloaded pages to provide fast searches. Crawlers can also be used for automating maintenance tasks on a website, such as checking links or validating html code.

Secure Servers

Special servers that utilize encryption to prevent unauthorized users from intercepting and reading a message that passes through its system. Such Web servers are capable of establishing encrypted communication with clients, generally using SSL or SET.


A computer that provides a service to other computers (known as clients) on a network.

Session Cookie

Temporary cookie stored in a computer memory for remembering preferences during a web site visit that is flushed on leaving the site.


Software that is distributed at no cost that can be used for free for a specific period of time or under certain circumstances to allow evaluation. A form of "try before you buy" software, it is usually distributed (either across the Internet or via magazine cover disks) for free with time-constrained (eg 30 day) functionality so that a user can install and appraise it before sending off a registration fee to the program author in exchange for unlimited use and documentation.

Shopping Cart

Shopping cart software allows the cardholder to select items from an online store and place them in a 'virtual shopping basket or shopping cart.' The shopping cart keeps track of items a visitor picks to buy from your site while the client views other items within the 'virtual storefront,' keeps a running total, and may calculate taxes and shipping. The items in the shopping cart are eventually ordered if the cardholder chooses.

SLA (Service Level Agreement)

Used in many merchant/institution and merchant/consumer transactions to define the boundaries of what the service is committed to deliver and under what circumstances.


Refers to junk e-mail, most usually received in the form of unsolicited advertisements. Alternatively, spam can also refer to excessive, unwanted and/or otherwise irrelevant newsgroup postings.

Sponsored Link

Also known as a Sponsored Ad, a Sponsored Link, Featured link is a paid advertisement/link to a website. These links generally appear after a search has been typed into a search engine, and appear either at the top in the form of a banner, along the sides, or even at the bottom. Typically, these links are either set in a bold font, are larger than the standard text on the page, or have some sort of colored background. Pay per click, Google Ad Words, and other advertising campaigns use these links on search engine results pages.

SSL (Secure Socket Layer)

A system for encrypting data sent over the Internet, including e-commerce transactions and passwords. With SSL, client and server computers exchange public keys, allowing them to encode and decode their communication. A secure protocol ensures the integrity of information that is transmitted via this means.


Text Link

A link that advertisers pay to have on another website that links to a page on their site. Text Links are usually found in the text or content of a page, rather than in a banner. Text links will have varying costs, based on the "quality" of the page or website. SEO companies pride themselves in being able to sell text links and text link ads to further enhance a site's SEO. is an online shopping mall that offers text link advertisement space to Canadian Shopping Sites.

Text Link Advertising

An advertising or marketing campaign designed to utilize text links by having them "point" to your site. A standard campaign targets certain keywords and text link "brokers" (such as charge varying amounts for these keywords to be used as links. Generally, text link advertising may target only one up to quite a few keyword phrases.

Third-Party Processing

Processing of transactions by service providers acting under contract to card issuers or acquirers.


Any event that causes a change in an organization's financial position or net worth, resulting from normal activity. Advance of funds, purchase of goods at a retailer or when a borrower activates a revolving line of credit. Activities affecting a deposit account carried out at the request of the account owner. One example of a transaction is the process that takes place when a cardholder makes a purchase with a credit card.

Transaction Date

The actual date on which a transaction occurs. Used in recording and tracking transactions.

Transaction Fee

A charge for each credit card transaction, collected by the merchant account provider or ISO.



The amount of time a web site is available. The industry benchmark at this point is 99.99%.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

An address for a file (or page) located on the Internet, usually the Web (e.g.

User Session

Each visit to a web site by one person. The session is usually "ended" when all pages have been closed or after a specific time of inactivity.


Valid Date

The date embossed by the card issuer on the credit card. An establishment cannot accept a card for payment of goods or services prior to this date.


Web Server

A computer dedicated to storing the various files that make up Web pages and the protocols needed for communicating with other computers via the Internet.

WWW (World Wide Web)

A hypermedia system that lets you browse through an unlimited amount of interesting information.


What You See Is What You Get. An application that displays how the resulting page will look as it is being developed by the user in which the screen displays what the end result will look like, while the document is being created or modified.

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