eCommerce or e-Commerce—How Is It Spelled?
Updated · Apr 21, 2022
In today's digital age, knowing how to spell common internet terms is important. One such term is "e-commerce."
While it may seem straightforward, there are actually a few different ways to spell it. Is there a hyphen? What do you capitalize? Is it ecommerce or e-commerce? What is the right way to spell this term that stands for electronic commerce?
In this article, we’ll discuss just that. You may or may not be surprised to discover that there are multiple ways that are accepted as correct.
The Professional Spelling
The most common spelling you’ll see in books is "e-commerce," with a hyphen between the "e" and the "commerce." This is the official or “professional” way to spell ecommerce, and this is how many style guides require it to be written.
This ecommerce spelling is also shown in most dictionaries. The reason for this is that the word "e-commerce" is derived from a combination of "electronic," and “commerce”, which are two separate words. You wouldn’t write “eletroniccommerce”, which is why the hyphen is there.
Using “e-commerce” is a safe bet because it is the most correct and shows the nuance of the term. We, however, favor the next type, as you should have picked up by now given how we spell ecommerce through most of this article.
The Casual Spelling
eCommerce has been around for about three decades now, but in recent years, its popularity has exploded. More businesses have shifted their operations online, and the availability of smartphones has made e-commerce all the more convenient.
As a result, the term "e-commerce" is no longer confined to academia and boardrooms but has become increasingly common in everyday speech. In other words, it sees more casual use.
The casual spelling of e-commerce is “ecommerce”. This ecommerce spelling leaves out the hyphen. It’s a small detail, but leaving it out makes it quicker to type on a PC or a phone.
To get an idea of how widely “ecommerce” is used over “e-commerce”, one need only look at trends on Google, or compare each variation of a keyword research tool.
People generally search for terms that include “ecommerce”, rather than “e-commerce.” It’s just simpler, and is now accepted as correct.
What Is the Correct eCommerce Abbreviation?
So now that you know that it can be e-commerce or ecommerce, what is the correct abbreviation, ecomm or ecom?
The correct abbreviation for the term is “e-comm” or just “ecomm”. Much like the full term, the hyphen is now largely optional.
A shorter version of “e-com/ecom” is sometimes used, but it is also the name of various companies, and the stock symbol for Channel Advisor Corp. As such, it’s best to avoid it, as you could create confusion.
Finally, how do you capitalize ecommerce/e-commerce?
It actually depends on the variant. For ecommerce, you’d capitalize it as “Ecommerce.” For e-commerce, you’d capitalize it as “E-Commerce” in a title, an “E-commerce” at the beginning of a sentence.
So there you have it. It’s ecommerce or e-commerce, depending on your preference or who you’re writing for.
Purists may gripe at leaving out the hyphen, but remember: In the early days of the internet, email was also spelled with a hyphen, as in "e-mail."
Over time, though, the more compact and casual form "email" became increasingly popular, to the point where it is now the standard spelling.
It's likely that a similar process will happen with "e-commerce."
In time, it is likely that "ecommerce" will become the standard spelling, just as "email" did before it.
We certainly prefer the non-hyphenated version throughout Web Tribunal, as we firmly believe it follows the same path as email and other modern terms.
Garan is a writer interested in how tech reshapes the environment, and how the environment reshapes tech. You'll usually find him inoculating against future shock and arguing with bots.