eCommerce Glossary - Accounting Software Secrets
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eCommerce Glossary

eCommerce Glossary

eCommerce Glossary of Terms


Created by Roxanne Brown


Acquirer – Financial institution that maintains the merchant card processing services and receives transactions to be distributed to the card issuers for a merchant.

Above the Fold – Top section of a Web page that is viewable without the user having to scroll down, or sideways.

Add URL / site / page Refers to getting your site indexed by search engines and Web site directories, so that people can find your site. Same as search engine submissions.

Adjustment – Debit or credit to a credit card holder or merchant account to correct a transaction error.

Affiliate/associate program – Marketing concept whereby a web site sells its products and services with the help of affiliates, usually other web sites.

Affiliate directories – are categorized indexes of affiliate programs.


Affiliate marketing – Use of affiliates to help market a Web site’s products and services in return for a payment for each sale, lead, action, or visitor generated.


Affiliate merchants – Advertisers in an affiliate marketing relationship.


Affiliate networks – Online advertising agencies that sells ad space on behalf of its network of affiliate sites. Affiliates are paid on a per click, lead, registration, or sale basis.


Affiliate software – Software programs used by affiliate managers to track and report activity (clicks, leads, registration, sales) generated by its affiliates.


Ah-Ha – A popular pay per click search engine used by 10,000 advertisers and processes some 120 million searches a month.


AllTheWeb – AllTheWeb is the testing domain for the FAST search engine, which was recently acquired by Overture, the leading pay per click search engine.


Alphanumeric rankings – Alphanumeric rankings are used by Web site directories to rank its listings. The listings are displayed in the order of the ASCII character set (punctuation marks, mathematical and other conventional symbols, numbers, then letters).


Alternate text – Alternative text description of an image for users who disable image downloading in their browser. Also appears as a pop-up text message when a user moves their mouse over an image.


Anonymizers – Anonymizers are intermediaries which prevent Web sites from seeing a user’s IP (Internet Protocol) address. Every computer connected to the Internet has an IP address.


Anonymous FTP (File Transfer Protocol) – A way of accessing another computer to upload or download files. Generally used to upload files to Web servers or for downloading applications.


Antialiasing – Smoothing of text, or an image, to remove rough sharp edges.


Applets – Small programs embedded in a Web page that gives special functionality, usually written in Java.


ArchitextSpider – The name given to the Excite search engine spider, when it used to crawl the Web indexing Web pages.


ASP (Application Service Provider) – Company that offers individuals or enterprises access over the Internet to software applications and related services that would otherwise have to be located on their own personal or enterprise computers.


Ask an expertAsk an expert web sites have experts in different fields offering answers to posted questions. While some ask an expert sites are free, others charge on a per question e-mailed, or per minute of advice given basis.


Associations – Organization which administers and promotes different types of credit cards that are licensing and regulatory agencies for bankcard activities.


Authorization – Approval of a credit card transaction by a card-issuing bank or approved service provider for a specific sum of money. The authorization indicates that the credit card holder has enough credit to be able to make the purchase.


Autoresponders –  Computer programs that automatically return a pre-written e-mail message to anyone who sends e-mail to a particular Internet address.


AVS (Address Verification Service) – Service in which a merchant can verify a credit card holder’s address with the Issuing Bank. Required by VISA for credit card processing over the Web.


B2B/BtoB (Business-to-Business) – Trade between businesses rather than between businesses and consumers.


B2C/BtoC (Business-to-Consumers) – Trade between businesses and consumers.


B2G/BtoG (Business-to-Government) – Trade between businesses and government.


Back-end/backend – Application or program that serves indirectly in support of the front-end services. For example, a CGI search script is a back-end application that processes and returns results for a search form submission.


Bandwidth – Refers to the speed, in bits per second (bps), of data on Internet connections.


Bank cards – Debit or credit cards issued by a bank or financial institution.


Batch – A full day’s worth of transactions collected together ready to be processed by a credit card processor.


Bay9 – Formerly known as Rocketlinks, now known as Xuppa, is a popular pay per click search engine processing some 125 million page views a month.


Beta/pre-release test – Phase of testing in which a sampling of the intended audience tries the product out, before it is launched.


Bounce – When email cannot be delivered and is returned to the sending mail server.


Brand marketing – Concept of marketing a product, service, or company to identify its distinctive benefits and qualities


Cache/caching – A place to store something temporarily for quicker access at a later date. Typically, Web pages are stored in a browser’s cache directory on a hard disk, or on a local proxy server.


Card Issuing Bank – The bank that issued a credit or debit card (bankcard) to an individual or company.


Cardholders – Individuals who have been issued a credit or debit card (bankcard).


CGI (Common Gateway Interface) – CGI (Common Gateway Interface) is a standard way for a Web server to pass a Web user’s request to an application program and to receive data back to forward to the user. CGI is commonly used to process online forms.


CGI scripts – CGI scripts are commonly used to handle forms, database search queries on Web pages, and to produce dynamic Web page content. The CGI Resource Index is a popular directory offering thousands of CGI / Perl scripts.



ChargebacksTransactions debited to a merchant’s account usually as a result of a cardholder dispute.


Clearing – The process of managing the details between an acquirer and an issuer to allow posting of a cardholder’s account and reconciliation of a merchant’s settlement position.


Click through/click – When a Web user clicks on an advertising banner or text ad and lands on the sponsor’s Web page. ‘Click through’ is the more popular term.


CMS (Content Management System) – A system used to manage the content of a Web site. Typically, a CMS consists of two elements; the content management application (CMA) and the content delivery application (CDA).


Conversion Rate – The percentage of people who take a desired action (click, register, subscribe, buy, etc.).


CPA (Cost-Per-Action) – Cost to an advertiser for each visitor that takes some specifically defined action in response to an ad beyond, such as subscribing to a newsletter.


CPC (Cost-Per-Click) – Cost to an advertiser for each click through of an ad generated by a site visitor.


CPO (Cost-Per-Order) – Cost of advertising based on the number of orders received.


CPS (Cost-Per-Sale) – Cost, in terms of a commission payment, to an advertiser for each sale generated by an affiliate.


CPT (Cost-Per-Transaction) – Cost of advertising based on the number of transactions received.


CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – Defines how to display HTML elements in a Web page.


CTR (Click Through Rate / Ratio) – Percentage of ad impressions that resulted in click throughs.


Customer Acquisition Cost – The cost of acquiring a new customer.


DHTML (dynamic HTML) – An avanced version of HTML that contains more features, such as animation.


Digital Certificate / Signature – Electronic “credit card” that establishes your credentials when doing business or other transactions on the Web.


Dmoz / Open Directory Project – The largest human-edited Web directory with over 3.8 million web sites, reviewed by a global community of over 57,000 volunteer editors. The Open Directory was founded in the spirit of the Open Source movement, and is the only major directory that is 100% free. There is not, nor will there ever be, a cost to submit a site to the directory, and/or to use the directory’s data. The Open Directory data is made available for free to anyone who agrees to comply with its free use license. The Open Directory powers the core directory services for many of the Web’s largest and most popular search engines and portals, including Netscape Search, AOL Search, Google, and hundreds of others.


DNS (Domain Name Server) – DNS (Domain Name Server) is a machine which translates Internet domain names, such as to IP (Internet Protocol) addresses such as (one of Google’s IP address).


Direct Hit –  A search engine that used to provide search results by analyzing the activity of millions of previous Internet searchers. Since Teoma, another search engine, acquired the technology behind Direct Hit, the search interface is no longer publicly accessible.


Doorway Pages – Informational pages created for the sole purpose of ranking high in search engines for a particular keyword phrase, or specific search engine. Doorway pages are also known as bridge, entry, gateway, and information pages.


DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) – DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) is a technology that transmits high-bandwidth information over ordinary copper telephone lines. Individual connections will typically provide 512 Kbps to 1.544 Mbps downstream and 128 Kbps upstream transfer rates. A DSL line can carry both data and voice signals and the data part of the line is continuously connected.


Dynamically Generated Pages – Database driven Web pages created “on the fly” (in real-time) depending on the user’s interest or request.


e-commerce / ecommerce (electronic commerce) – E-commerce / ecommerce (electronic commerce) is the buying and selling of goods and services over the Internet.


Extranet – Private network that uses the Internet and the public telecommunication system to securely connect a business with its customers, suppliers and business partners.


FFA (Free For All) – Links page where anyone can add a link. Do not bother with submitting your site to FFA pages, as it will only generate lots of spam emails for you, and very little traffic, if any at all.


Flash –  A popular authoring software developed by Macromedia. It’s used to design and deliver low-bandwidth animations, presentations, applications, and Web sites. To view a Flash file, users have to install the Macromedia Flash player.


Frames – Allows you to present Web pages in multiple, independent windows or subwindows, where certain information can be kept visible, while content in the other windows are scrolled or replaced.


Front-end – Application that Web users interact with directly. For example, a search form is the front-end of a search engine.


FTP (File Transfer Protocol) – FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is a method of transferring files, such as Web pages, over the Internet. Typically used to upload Web pages and images to a host server. The server then serves the pages to users requesting it over the Internet.


FTP servers  – Computers on the Internet that store files for transmission by FTP.


Gateway – Computer that connects one network with another. Often used in commerce to act as a gateway between a merchant and a bank.


GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) / GIF89a – One of the two most common file formats for graphic images on the World Wide Web. The other is JPEG.


Google – Google is the most widely used search engine in the World. It claims to be the World’s most comprehensive search engine having indexed over 3 billion Web pages.


Home page / Homepage – Main entry page of a Web site. For example, here is the home page of this Web site


HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) – HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the most popular language used to write Web pages on the Web. HTML Web pages usually have the extension .htm, .html, or .shtml.


HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) – HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is the protocol used by Web servers to deliver and receive information. Used to exchange text, graphic images, sound, video, and other multimedia files on the Web. All Web page addresses start with “http”, although its use is often optional.


HTTPS (Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol) – HTTPS (Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is a secure extension of HTTP. This extension securely encrypts and decrypts Web page requests. Whenever you pay for goods using a credit card on the Internet, HTTPS will be used to ensure your credit card details are secure.


Hybrid Pricing – Pricing model based on a combination of a CPM (cost per impressions) pricing model and a performance based pricing model.


Hypertext – System of organizing information that enables the text to be linked in different ways. The World Wide Web is hypertext, since it is nothing more than an enormous amount of information content connected by an enormous number of hypertext links.


IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) – An organization that fosters the growth of advertising on the Internet and recommends a set of standard size banner ads for Web pages.


ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) – A private non-profit corporation responsible for issuing IP address space allocation, domain name system management (.com, .net and .org).


ICQ (I Seek You) – ICQ is an popular instant messaging system that lets users exchange instant messages. It is generally recognized as being the first major instant messaging program available and is used by millions of users.


Incentivized Traffic / Clicks – Internet marketing concept whereby site visitors are paid to visit a Web site.


InktomiUsed to provide search results to many of the major search engine portals and Web sites on the Internet. It was recently aquired by Yahoo!


Interchange – Fee that an acquirer pays to an association (or credit card company) to compensate the issuer for risks associated with accepting and funding the cardholder’s account. This fee comes out of the discount rate charged to the merchant.


Interstitials – Web pages, usually the form of a pop-up window, that are inserted in between Web pages for the purpose of advertising or brand reinforcement, while you wait for a Web page to load.


Intranet – A private network that is contained within an enterprise (corporations, small businesses, non-profit institutions, or government bodies). An intranet is used to share information and computing resources among employees, to facilitate working in groups and for teleconferences.


IO (Insertion Order) – Formal printed order to run an ad campaign. Typically, an ad space seller will send the advertiser an insertion order for them to sign and send back.


IxquickA metasearch engine that clusters its search results and ranks listings by the number of different search engines a listing achieves a top ten ranking, and the actual ranking it has received.


Java – A programming language used to create complete applications or small application modules or applets for use as part of a Web page.


JavaScript – a popular programming language used to do such things as automatically change a formatted date on a Web page, or cause a page to appear in a pop-up window.


JPEG / JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) – One of the two most common file formats for graphic images on the Web. The other is the GIF. JPEGs are typically photographic images. Files in this format end in “.jpg”.


KanoodleA pay per click search engine Kanoodle supplying results for a network of 10,000 affiliated web sites including CNET, Galaxy, and


Keyword prominence – The importance of a keyword as determined by its position on a Web page. It’s generally accepted that the closer your important keywords are to the top of the Web page, the better.


Keyword stuffing – Repeating of keywords and keyword phrases in meta tags and elsewhere on a HTML page. Strictly not recommended as a legitimate search engine optimization technique


Keyword tag – An HTML meta tag used to help define the important keywords of a page


LAN (Local Area Network) – A group of computers that share a common communications line and resources of a server within a small geographic area.


Link / hyperlink – Clickable connection from one word, picture, or information object to another.


Link rot – Links to pages that used to work, but no longer work, because the page has moved or been deleted altogether.


List server – A program that manages email mailing lists and distributes new messages, newsletters, or other postings from the list’s members to the entire list of subscribers.


Log files – Records of all the requests for individual files that have been requested from  Web site.


Long domain names – Domain names that contain more than 26 characters. A limit of 67 characters, including the extension (.com, .net, etc.), is allowed.


LookSmartA web directory that only accepts commercial web sites. Web sites are charged on a pay per click basis of 15 cents per click through.


Lycos –  A search portal that is part of the Terra Lycos Network.


Mail server – A computer on the Internet that provides email services.


Mamma – A metasearch engine that provides metasearch results and advertising solutions, including a pay-per-click, text links, email strategies, banners and contextual based advertising.


Manual submission – Submitting a site to the search engines by hand, as opposed to automated software.


m-commerce / mcommerce (mobile commerce) – M-commerce / mcommerce is business transactions conducted via a mobile device, such as a WAP enabled phone.


Merchant account – An account associated with a merchant. This account holds the money obtained through credit card sales until you transfer it to a different account. A merchant account is necessary for you to process credit cards.


Merchants – Retailers who agree to accept credit cards, and have signed an agreement obliging them to meet requirements to do so.

Meta refresh – Coding on a Web page that automatically redirects a visitor to a new page after a specified number of seconds.

Meta tags – HTML tags in a Web page that describes some aspect of the contents of the Web page.

Meta tag generators – Software or online services that create meta tags based on input information.


MetaCrawlerA popular metasearch engine and one of the few that returns results from the Google search engine.


Metasearch engines – Search engines that search a number of other search engines simultaneously, compile the results, and display them, either by search engine employed, or by clustering them together and eliminating duplicates.


metaspy search engines – Search engines that give you a glimpse of what other people are searching for, in real-time.


MID (Merchant ID Number) – Merchant ID/Identification Number. Unique number that identifies a merchant for reference and billing purposes.


MIME (Multi-Purpose Internet Mail Extensions) – System which allows a user to send audio, video, images, application programs, and other non-text information via email.


Mirror site – Exact copy of the original site on another Web server in order to reduce network traffic. It is usually updated frequently to ensure that it reflects the content of the original site.

Moore‘s Law – Refers to the observation made by Gordon Moore – co-founder of Intel – in 1965 that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits doubled every year. More recently, the doubling period slowed to 18 months.


MOTO (Mail Order/Telephone Order) – A card transaction where a merchant cannot see the card, for example, by telephone, by mail or on the Web. This is also known as a ‘card not present’ scenario.


MousetrappingThe use of browser tricks in an effort to keep a visitor captive at a site, often by disabling the “Back” button or repeated popup windows


MySQLmySQL is a free Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) that uses Structured Query Language (SQL), the most popular language for adding, accessing and processing data in a database.


NDX (Net Delivery Exposure) – The time between when a credit cardholder is charged and when their order is successfully fulfilled.


Netiquette (net etiquette) – Etiquette practiced or advocated on the Internet and in emails.


News servers – Computers that receive, store, and serve Usenet newsgroup messages.


Newsletters / ezines – Electronic magazines delivered via email, or published on the Web.

OM – Software program called Order Manager


Open Directory Project / Dmoz – The largest human-edited Web directory with over 3.8 million web sites, reviewed by a global community of over 57,000 volunteer editors. The Open Directory was founded in the spirit of the Open Source movement, and is the only major directory that is 100% free. There is not, nor will there ever be, a cost to submit a site to the directory, and/or to use the directory’s data. The Open Directory data is made available for free to anyone who agrees to comply with its free use license. The Open Directory powers the core directory services for many of the Web’s largest and most popular search engines and portals, including Netscape Search, AOL Search, Google, and hundreds of others.


Opt-in / optin email – Email that recipients have previously requested by subscribing at a Web site or via email.


Opt-out / optout email – Opt-out email is similar to opt-in email, except that the email recipient is automatically added to a mailing list, unless they chose not to subscribe.


OS (Operating System) – eCommerce Glossary