What is eCommerce?
eCommerce refers to any form of business transaction conducted online. The most popular example of eCommerce is online shopping, which is defined as buying and selling of goods via the internet on any device. However, eCommerce can also entail other types of activities, such as online auctions, payment gateways, online ticketing, and internet banking.
eCommerce Business Models
eCommerce is typically classified into three different models based on the type of participants involved in the transaction. Broadly speaking these business models are:
- Business to Business (B2B): B2B is when businesses sell to other businesses. This is typical of stationery stores who sell office equipment in bulk to businesses. Normally B2B companies provide a discounted rate per unit if customers buy in bulk which it is great motivation for offices to avail of.
- Business to Consumer (B2C): B2C is the most commonly thought of business model where merchants sell to consumers who buy a small amount of produce. A familiar example of the B2C model would be supermarkets where consumers buy their shopping weekly but they wouldn’t normally bulk buy anything.
- Consumer to Consumer (C2C): C2C is a relatively new business model where consumers who previously bought something seek to resell this item to another consumer. Through marketplaces like eBay and Carousell, this can be easy and quite lucrative for selling items that you no longer have a use for.
The Benefits of eCommerce
There is a reason why eCommerce has demonstrated such explosive growth in the past couple of years. Indeed, with the internet becoming an essential requirement of everyday life, businesses are learning to take advantage of the numerous benefits of eCommerce, the most notable of which include:
- Global market. A physical store will always be limited by a geographical area it can serve. An online store, or any other type of eCommerce business for that matter, has the whole world as its market. Going from a local customer base to a global market at no additional cost is really one of the greatest advantages of trading online.
- Around-the-clock availability. Another great benefit of running an online business is that it is always open. For a merchant, it’s a dramatic increase in sales opportunities; for a customer, it’s a convenient and immediately available option. Unrestricted by the working hours, eCommerce businesses can serve customers 24/7/365.
- Reduced costs. eCommerce businesses benefit from significantly lower running costs. As there’s no need to hire sales staff or maintain a physical storefront, the major eCommerce costs go to warehousing and product storage. And those running a dropshipping business enjoy even lower upfront investment requirements. As merchants are able to save on operational costs, they can offer better deals and discounts to their customers.
- Inventory management. eCommerce businesses can automate their inventory management by using electronic tools to accelerate ordering, delivery and payment procedures. It’s saving businesses billions in operational and inventory costs.
- Targeted marketing. With access to such a wealth of customer data and an opportunity to keep an eye on customer buying habits as well as the emerging industry trends, eCommerce businesses can stay agile and shape their marketing efforts to provide a better-tailored experience and find more new customers. Just consider for a moment that you have a chance to address thousands of your customers by their first name; that is something already.
- Serving niche markets. Running a niche brick-and-mortar business is extremely difficult. There’s almost no chance of scaling it unless a niche product becomes mainstream. By tapping into a global market, on the other hand, eCommerce retailers can build a highly profitable niche business without any further investment. Using online search capabilities, customers from any corner of the world can find and purchase your products.
- Working from anywhere. Often, running an eCommerce business means that you don’t need to sit in an office from 9 to 5 or suffer through a commute day-in and day-out. A laptop and a good internet connection is all it takes to manage your business from anywhere in the world.