Advertising is all good and fine, but without a way to get the product to the consumer, advertising becomes useless. As the revenue stream dries up, the advertisers will wither away. So how do we fix this problem? Enter the electronic store.
In William Mitchell's book/electronic text, City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn, he describes how the agoras of the past have a new place in cyberspace. However, with an electronic storefront, the physical boundaries of the agoras or of our modern stores are eliminated. No more worries about warehousing inventory. No more huge overhead on rent and utilities. No more security protection.
Amazon, the world's largest bookstore, does not exist as a gigantic thousand-acre establishment somewhere. Instead, it exists only in cyberspace. As usual, anything that exists in cyberspace must exist on some server somewhere, so the millions of titles that Amazon carries could all be carried out and processed in the space of a small office. Amazon could have the publisher store the books and ship them when an order comes in for the books. Eventually, the publishers would not even have to store books, just paper, so that they can print the books from these stacks of paper when the books are ordered.
Of course, more traditional bookstores have the advantage of allowing consumers to sit and browse through the book, perhaps while enjoying a cup of coffee. They can decide after looking over it whether it is worth purchasing. However, electronic stores save you the trouble of wasting time, money, and gas driving to the bookstore, parking, and then driving back, sometimes empty handed. Electronic stores also allow you to search for and through many titles quickly, without waiting for a clerk to help you with the search. There's also no more waiting in the checkout line -- just fill in your credit information (in a secure transaction, of course) and wait a few days for your order to arrive. And, finally, an even better reason for electronic commerce is that electronic stores can oftentimes offer you a much lower price than traditional stores.
AutoByTel is a curious example of a cross between electronic and traditional commerce. AutoByTel takes orders for cars online or by telephone and can offer a lower price than regular car dealerships because AutoByTel can cut out middleman costs and expenses related to having a physical presence. AutoByTel then forwards the order to the nearest dealership to the customer and the dealership closes the sale. The dealership actually saves money with the lower price because it gets a ready-to-buy customer, without wasting their salespeople's time on test drives and other costs.