What is ecommerce?
The simplest definition of ecommerce is ‘buying or selling online’. It applies to anything you can find on the internet, from shoes and tennis rackets to concert tickets and salon appointments.
Ecommerce also isn’t limited to just a store’s website – it can take place across a variety of channels, including social media. Most consumers (around 87%) research items online before buying them, and 60% use social media to inform their shopping.
Why get into ecommerce?
Ecommerce is growing rapidly. Not only has it done so over the past few years, but the trend shows no sign of slowing. An estimated 95% of all purchases are predicted to come from ecommerce by 2040.
Around 21.8% of the world’s population currently shops online, which means there is plenty of ground to cover until ecommerce transactions hit the 95% mark; so it’s not too late to start your ecommerce business.
Benefits of ecommerce
Apart from it being a growing trend with a broader customer base and revenue potential than offline commerce, there are many benefits of starting an ecommerce business.
Convenience: You don’t need to show up early to open the store, stock the shelves, make sure everything is in place, and lock up again when you go home. Customers also have instant access to whatever they’re looking for, and from anywhere.
Larger market: You can sell to customers who are not local to you because they don’t have to travel anywhere to shop.
Always open: Stores have opening and closing hours and people get tired eventually and need to sleep. But the internet doesn’t – with an ecommerce website, you can sell to customers at any time, even when you’re asleep.
Cheaper than a physical store: With physical stores, you have costs like rent, utilities, and repairing those utilities, plus you need to furnish them. None of that applies to an ecommerce platform.
Which type of ecommerce business is right for me?
Finding the ecommerce model that fits you depends heavily on the item you’re offering. Are you going the traditional retail route of offering physical items? Do you want to offer a service to help people improve their lives in some way? Are you going to offer your own items or services or someone else’s?
These questions about your item also help you figure out whether you will start a B2C, B2B, C2C, or some other type of ecommerce business. For example, if you are a shoe retailer, you are almost certainly running a B2C (if it is you selling the shoes) or a C2C (if you are creating a platform for customers to exchange or buy shoes from one another) business.
On the other hand, offering better organisational or financial software is likely a B2B business. The question to ask once you have an item or service to sell is: who do you imagine using and benefiting from it? That’s how you can identify what your ecommerce business model will be.