What is Ecommerce?
Electronic commerce refers to transactions conducted on the Internet. Every time individuals and companies are purchasing and selling goods and services online they’re engaging in eCommerce. Ecommerce has been introduced to make products easier to discover and buy through online retailers and marketplaces.
Individuals, small businesses, and large brands have all benefited from eCommerce, which enables them to sell their products and services at a scale that was not possible with traditional offline retail methods.
History and Future of Ecommerce
To say that the pandemic has killed commerce and business is thoroughly incorrect. Sure enough, we are seeing lots of stores, boutiques, and even large-scale establishments that are already closing their doors. But that does not mean that they are already closing their business!
The truth is, most businesses nowadays have already discovered the convenience and benefits the Internet could provide their companies. Most businesses are already venturing into eCommerce.
Definition of eCommerce
If you've been using the Internet for quite some time already, then you have probably heard about eCommerce already.
According to Andrew Bloomhental of Investopedia, Electronic commerce or e-commerce (sometimes written as eCommerce) is a business model that lets firms and individuals buy and sell things over the Internet. Moreover, these transactions are not limited to posting and acquiring orders but can go as far as online payment, advertisement, and other business functions.
Origin of eCommerce
It is hard to identify the true origins of eCommerce. This is because even before the term is coined, people are already using various multimedia and digital platforms to advertise and market their products.
Michael Aldrich piloted his online shopping career in 1979 when he connected a specialised television set to a computer via telephone line, introducing online transactions between buyers and sellers.
Aside from this, the 1980s also holds great importance to the overall history of eCommerce. This is the time when the Internet has become accessible to the public through the use of personal computers and professional workstations.
And due to the seemingly unlimited opportunities that the Internet could provide, precisely that of the use of emails, people started spreading the word about their products. Despite their unorganised and unstandardised methods, it all boils down to the fact that what they did is a form of online selling. Thus, people's early attempts to market their products through emails is still a mark of development in eCommerce history.
Jeff Bezos' launch of Amazon during 1995 revolutionised the world of eCommerce. It gave an organised and standardised method in doing online selling. Not only has it given great comfort to online sellers, but it has also made eCommerce accessible and easy to use for the customers. As of this writing, Amazon still remains to be the biggest eCommerce website in the world.
However, even though Amazon and other online selling portals had made it easy for customers to select and checkout various products, the problem of online payment still remained. This is why the launching of Paypal, initially known as Confinity in 1996, formally completed the field of eCommerce.
Also called an "online bank," PayPal allowed complete cashless transaction. Customers are now allowed to pay all their dues online without using their credit cards or bank accounts, which was greatly recognised by consumers all over the world as this process ensured their financial safety and security.
People could now select items, check out products, and pay their dues purely online with just a couple of clicks on their computer!
Also publicly launched in 1996, Craigslist filled out all the gaps and missing pieces of Amazon. It became a classified advertisement website where you can get deals for housing, services, and even secondhand items. It is now one of the most used forums in America today.
The exclusivity of Amazon and Craiglist to Western consumers, especially that of Americans, paved the way for the creation of Alibaba in 1999, a Chinese multinational retail company. Aside from broadening the scope of eCommerce to Asia and other parts of the world, it also empowered other kinds of eCommerce, such as business-to-business (B2B) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) transactions.
While fairly new compared to Amazon and Craiglist, Etsy is also an online marketplace that greatly contributed to the overall development of eCommerce. It was launched in 2005. While Amazon and Craiglist offer general goods and services, Etsy is an eCommerce space for art enthusiasts. You can find personalised gifts, leather accessories, jewelry, and even greeting cards on Etsy, pretty much anything that is dainty and beautiful.
The website that popularised the term eCommerce- Shopify. Launched in 2006, Shopify is a website that allows individuals and business alike to set up their own online store easily!
Before, people have to go through the rigorous process of hiring visual artists, website designers, IT specialists, and plenty of other tech professionals just to set up one eCommerce website. But with Shopify, you could launch your online shop in less than an hour with their ready-made templates and website designs!
Last but certainly not least, another website that revolutionised the world of eCommerce— Magento. Launched in 2008, it filled out pretty much everything that Shopify and other eCommerce websites lacked.
Magneto recognises that brand identity is very crucial to the success of a company. This is why they give full flexibility to businesses in their website's format and design through their Magneto Open Source option. While Shopify stores tend to have a unified look and feel, Magneto websites tend to be unique and different. This is why most enterprises and large-scale companies prefer Magneto as their eCommerce platform.
They also offer various website plugins and addons that could take your customer's online shopping experience to a whole new level.
Amazon, Paypal, Craiglist, Alibaba, Etsy, Shopify, and Magneto are just some of the online shopping websites that contributed to the overall development of eCommerce. Aside from these portals, there are also numerous medium to small-scale marketplaces that continuously take the online business to the next level.
Different Kinds of eCommerce
The unstoppable growth of eCommerce gave birth to its various kinds.
Business-to-Consumer or B2C
The business-to-consumer transaction is the most traditional form of commerce in which products and services are sold to their users. The end of the line would be that of usage or consumption. B2C still remains the most common form of transaction in most online stores and marketplaces.
Business-to-Bussiness or B2B
The business-to-business transaction occurs when a company makes a commercial deal with another business. One of the most typical examples of a B2B transaction would be providing raw materials for another online store's products.
B2B is less ventured compared to B2C since it usually involves a large capital. However, the return of income is large as well since you would be striking deals and sales with fellow companies and enterprises.
Aside from this, B2B also promises a longer timeframe for contracts since you would be sustaining an entire business as opposed to B2C transactions in which a customer could easily drop your company had he found a better one. And we all know that in business, stability is the key to success.
Consumer-to-Consumer or C2C
The C2C or consumer-to-consumer transaction grew through the websites eBay, Craiglist, and Etsy. In this setting, individuals sell items and services to fellow customers.
Two of the most classic examples of C2C transactions are auctioning and secondhand selling, which is both big business methods even outside the world of eCommerce. C2C transactions are becoming the trend nowadays since they are cheaper compared to most B2B transactions since they remove big companies from the equation.
Consumer-to-Business or C2B
The consumer-to-business or C2B setting happens when consumers create value out of their services, which could be beneficial to a particular business. While it is least known compared to B2C and B2B, people subscribe to this eCommerce setup simply because it also provides an opportunity to earn money.
An example of a C2B transaction is when a photographer takes an outstanding photo of a certain product and sells it to the company where it came from. A regular customer could also ask for a discount or a freebie in exchange for his review of the item he bought.
Both the photos and the reviews would be highly beneficial to the business as they could be used for organic advertisement. Promotions like these have been tried and tested to produce high clickthrough and conversion rates.
Business-to-Administration or B2A
B2A or business-to-administration deals happen when a business provides services to the government or other organisations of the likes. These services include software, human resources, maintenance services, and even raw materials.
One example of a B2A transaction is when the government buys software to digitise a certain public transaction, such that of filing documents and paying government dues. Though it is not that common compared to the other kinds of eCommerce setups since it lessens private firms and individuals' participation, its importance is unquestionable.
Consumer-to-Administration or C2A
Last but certainly not least, the C2A or the consumer-to-administration transaction. This includes paying taxes, e-voting, and even participation in surveys through an online platform. While its sales aren't that lucrative, its importance in sustaining the community is also undebatable.
Advantages of eCommerce
The rise of eCommerce is greatly attributed to people's growing affinity to technology, such as with their computers and cellphones. However, we can't deny the fact that it has also brought immeasurable benefits, whether we play the role of a business owner or a consumer.
1. The cost of eCommerce is relatively cheaper.
This could be one of the biggest reasons why people, especially business owners, already prefer eCommerce over maintaining a traditional business- it allows you to start and run your business in a cheaper capital.
While the traditional business setup is tried and tested in terms of capital return, eCommerce helps business owners remove unnecessary business expenses. For starters, business owners would not have to worry about securing a physical store, a warehouse for their supply, and an office for their staff since everything would be done online. And we all know how much it actually costs to set up and maintain a physical store!
2. It brings unlimited scope to your business.
Turning your company into an international one is perhaps one of the greatest aspirations of all business owners. Before you need to sell your stocks, offer franchises of your business, and other techniques to fully expand your enterprise just to go global. But now, you can do so with just a single click!
The thing is, since the Internet is accessible to almost all parts of the world, so is your business. When you decide to venture into eCommerce, you will be accommodating orders from across the globe in no time. Just make sure that you have a reliable shipping partner.
3. eCommerce could accommodate almost all kinds of businesses.
There are practically no ifs and buts in eCommerce. All kinds of companies, whether you offer products or services, can pretty much venture into eCommerce. The Internet has no capacity to differentiate a startup from large enterprises, as well. As long as you get to expand your presence in the worldwide web through effective advertising, you could beat your business opponents no matter how big their companies may be!
4. It makes business management easier and more efficient.
With eCommerce, nothing would be done manually. Everything will be digitised and automated. While human effort sure adds an additional touch to your business, we can't deny the fact that people could create errors. Such errors could actually cause grave consequences to your business. On the other hand, when everything is done through reliable software and IT solutions, you could be assured that everything is done in an organised and error-free manner.
Using technology to aid your business does not just allow error-free maintenance, but it also makes it a lot faster. And the faster your company is, the more income you could produce!
5. eCommerce provides a safer way to maintain business despite the pandemic.
Sure enough, the pandemic has brought various predicaments to the world, but it has also made us realise a lot of stuff. One of these realisations is how important eCommerce is in the world today.
With various establishments closing because of lockdowns, people resorted to online stores and marketplaces to get their basic necessities. With their online checkout features, paperless transactions, and real-time deliveries, eCommerce companies greatly helped us during the pandemic.
Disadvantage of eCommerce
Just like all business trends, eCommerce also has its fair share of disadvantages. While most of them are somehow harmless, the fact still remains that people should still give an effort to improve various aspects of eCommerce.
1. eCommerce makes individuals vulnerable to digital fraud.
When doing online transactions, people are required to give most of their personal information such as address and bank account number. This info would be stored on the online store and marketplace database, and it only takes one attack of a hacker to acquire all of this valuable information.
The most common digital fraud and scams would be the involuntary use of credit cards and phishing scams sent via email. While it is imperative for individuals to be extra alert and careful in giving their information, it would still be better if all eCommerce websites could use standardised security software to avoid digital fraud.
2. Businesses are more susceptible to scams.
Business owners also have their fair share of disadvantages when dealing with online transactions. Their database, including their pending orders, present stocks, and even their income records, could easily be destroyed by a single hacker. They are also required to take responsibility for scams and frauds done under their websites.
Aside from this, they also have to deal with mistaken orders, sending incorrect information, and rejected deliveries. Failed transactions like these could affect a business, especially that of a small one, in the long run.
3. Less quality control over items.
Various social media sites are filled with posts of items they have received through online stores that fall short of their expectations. While most of them are done in a very humorous way, the fact still remains that instances like these show the unreliable side of eCommerce.
Sure enough despite various high-grade cameras, seeing the actual products is still better than just photos and videos.
On the other hand, there are also some instances in which customers receive items that are just way beyond their expectations. Perhaps the element of surprise, whether it is good or bad, would always be present in the world of eCommerce.
eCommerce Website Examples
Most of the online businesses have adopted B2B ecommerce. Check out some of the examples of such businesses below:
1. Temptation Gifts
Temptation Gifts Ltd was founded in the year since March 1983 and they have been trading online since July 2000. Winning the award for Best UK Online Gift Retailer on five occasions, they are passionate about creating a shopping experience that is fun, easy, and hassle-free. They have over 10,000 gifts online but that selection is growing and changing all the time, so if you can't find what you want on their visit, consult their customer support!
- Utilisation of right strategies for the improvement of overall conversion rate and website traffic.
- Made advanced shopping features
- Improved entire website SEO performance due to high coding standards
Letta London is a team of professionals helping the customers to create unique bathroom spaces with captivating designs. They define the luxury modern, contemporary and traditional market in bathroom design and made to measure wardrobes. The online storefront was specially launched for people who want to overview the products but unable to take out sufficient time to visit the store. They care passionately about helping their clients create their own unique bathroom space and made to measure wardrobes of their own style.
- Reduction in Bounce Rate
- Improved the overall website Conversion Rate
- Enhanced the overall Visitor Rate
Wowcher was founded in 2009 and is one of the second largest eCommerce deals of the day in the UK and Ireland. It currently has a user-base of roughly 10 million members around the world. They can make the luxurious things in life affordable as their motive is to look for the best experiences and offer deals at prices that’s hard to beat!
- Adobe Analytics Integration
- Made advanced solutions for wide range of merchants
- Solutions for bespoke tracking and conversion tracking
4. Beach Cafe
Beach Cafe has a great selection of women's designer swimwear from a wide range of brands such as Vix, Marysia, Seafolly, JETS by Jessika Allen, and the list goes on and on. Whether you're looking for classic styles or something more fashion-forward, they have the perfect piece for you. Their team is fit experts, who will ensure you not only look but feel fabulous on the beach.
- Usage of right trick for improving Conversion Rates
- Enhance website traffic
- Reduction In Bounce Rates
The Future of eCommerce
Even though the field of eCommerce has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages, the fact still remains that it is already widely accepted, if not highly preferred, by consumers around the globe.
The remarkable progress shown by eCommerce is far from stopping. The continuous shift of businesses from traditional setup to online one has shown positive results to their income. It also encouraged numerous startup businesses, especially from younger generations, which wouldn't even be possible without eCommerce.
Aside from these trends, the recent COVID-19 has thoroughly cemented online stores' value and marketplaces among individuals. It gave people the opportunity to have easier and faster access to goods and services they need, which were highly inaccessible to them before the advent of eCommerce.
In short, eCommerce has benefits both to company owners and consumers- everyone wins. And that would always be the best set up possible in the world of business.
Is eCommerce here to stay? Yes, it is. As long as people continuously embrace technology's benefits, as long as they continuously remain dependent on their computers and smartphones, and as long as they have access to the Internet, yes, eCommerce would continue to be the best business platform today.
In conclusion, people who are in the business world today or those who are planning to start their business should embrace eCommerce. Better enjoy its advantages and correct its disadvantages. After all, change has always been a part of our lives, including in the world of business.
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