eCommerce and Internet Definitions

Find out the most commonly used terms for online shopping merchants. This is a glossary and general term guideline for terms and definitions you will most commonly come across when starting out your online selling adventure!


The generally accepted term for doing business online over the internet.  Also spelled as ecommerce, eCommerce, e commerce.


The vast collection of inter-connected computerized networks that all use the TCP/IP protocols. A global electronic network connecting millions of computers linked to exchange data, news and opinions. The Internet is decentralized by design. Each Internet computer, called a host, is independent. Its operators can choose which Internet services to use and which local services to make available to the global Internet community.

online shopping

The term used for selling or purchasing goods and services over the internet from a website (online store).

url - uniform resource locator

Uniform Resource Locator which describes the "address" for a document on the internet. 

domain name

The unique name of an internet website. is a domain name.


Website is the tool for creating a web presence of your business on the internet.  Think of it as an electronic brochure of your business, whether it is a basic website, or and e-commerce website (online shopping store).


Links are the method of "linking" from one place to another on the internet.  Links can be from one place on your website to another (internal), or from one website location to another website (external).

html - hyper text markup language

Hyper Text Markup Language is the standardized language which allows web browsers to interpret websites. 

http - hyper text transfer protocol

A protocol which allows computers to communicate with each other over the internet. 


The term used for the physical hardware location of your website on the internet.  Hosting is generally provided by companies specializing in Broad Band Internet connections so your website can be accessed on the internet quickly.

shopping cart

Software that keeps track of items a visitor picks to buy from your site until they proceed to the "secure checkout".  Most websites have a "shopping cart plug-in" which needs to be specially programmed.

payment gateway

The system by which a safe and secure on-line processing / authorization of a credit card number in real time - informing the merchant and customer that the card has been approved or declined.  Related term is:  "Real Time Credit Card Processing".

secure order processing

The term used to describe the safe and secure processing of orders over the internet through a website or online shopping store.

ssl - secure socket layer

Secure Socket Layer is an encryption technology on the server that scrambles important data such as credit card numbers and order information when it is being stored or passed from one computer to another. 
(Typically this is an added cost for a "certificate" associated on your hosting...ShopFactory provides this for you at no cost). 

asp - active server page

A Web page that has one or more "ASP" scripts embedded in it.  ASP scripts are programs that run when an ASP-based web page is accessed.  ASP pages are processed on a Web server before they are transferred to a user's Web browser. 
(Typically the URL in the browser will show ".asp" as opposed to ".html".) 

pgp encryption

PGP stands for "pretty good privacy".  A software encryption method of encrypting email messages and files.

esd - electronic softgoods delivery

The method by which "electronic media" is delivered online from a website or online store from a secure server or hosting service.

site map

A mapping of links showing what pages and documents are on your website.

search engine

A facility / program that indexes web sites, online documents and web pages and attempts to match with search words or phrases enter by a user.

search engine optimization

The process of creating / building web pages which are targeted towards getting higher ranking in search engines.

search engine friendly

The term used to describe that a web site, web page or web document is fit for search engine standards.

search engine indexing

The listing or indexing of web pages and content accessible on your website to search engines.

static pages - dynamic pages

Static Pages show the same content each time they are viewed, and do not change each time they are accessed over the internet.
Dynamic Pages have content that can change each time they are accessed.  These pages are typically written in scripting languages to display information from a database depending on the variables and scripting.

meta tags - meta description - keywords

Meta Tags:  Tags that describe various aspects of a web page content. META Keywords, META Title, META Description are the most commonly used.  Entered into the background (meta-tags) of your website so that your related / applicable website content can be found on search engines.
Meta Title:  The title of the meta content on your web page.
Meta Description:  A string of textual content describing what the web page is about.
Keywords:  Specific words that may be used for searching key information on your web page.

ecommerce forum

An online discussion group or society which allows topics to be accessed on e-commerce over the internet.

small business forum

An online discussion group or society which allows topics to be accessed on small business issues over the internet.

online business directory

Like a search engine, an online business directory lists business which have opted to list their online business in the directory forum listings.