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Trading partner relationships

As well as offering new ways of doing business with customers, e-commerce also provides new ways of building closer links and improving business relationships with key trading partners.

There are a number of Internet-based technologies and processes that are able to improve your own business efficiency and your relationships with trading partners. Some of the key ones are listed below.


These are private company networks that use the same browser-based technology and network protocols as the Internet. They run over a private internal network and are protected from unauthorised users by a firewall. They can improve employee effectiveness within an organisation by enabling them to search their own business' worldwide knowledge and information store from their own desktop, regardless of location.


This is a shared intranet that you can make available to selected external partners, such as vendors, contractors, suppliers and key customers. It can be used for exchanging data and applications, and sharing specific business information. Because the users and partners are able to share key trading data such as inventory levels and sales trends, an extranet can have a major impact upon supply chain management.

Supply chain management

The concept of supply chain management revolves around having the right product in the right place, at the right time, and in the right condition.

The key aspects of supply chain management include the ability of businesses to:

  • exchange information on stock levels
  • fulfil orders more quickly
  • minimise excess inventory
  • improve customer service
  • use a networking infra­struc­ture to ensure good response times and speed


There are many online exchanges that enable suppliers, buyers and inter­medi­aries to come together and offer products or services to each other, according to set criteria. Buyers and sellers work interactively with bids and offers. When a deal is made, it is a match between the buyer and seller on variables such as price, volume and delivery costs.

Reverse auctions are buyer-controlled events and are used to attract bids, with the lowest bid winning. Buyers post details of the goods they want to buy and suppliers compete to provide them.