What Is Electronic Commerce (Ecommerce)?
Electronic commerce (ecommerce) refers to companies and individuals that buy and sell goods and services over the Internet. Ecommerce operates in different types of market segments and can be conducted over computers, tablets, smartphones, and other smart devices.
Nearly every imaginable product and service is available through ecommerce transactions, including books, music, plane tickets, and financial services such as stock investing and online banking. As such, it is considered a very disruptive technology.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Ecommerce
Ecommerce offers consumers the following advantages:
Ecommerce can occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Although ecommerce may take a lot of work, it is still possible to generate sales as you sleep or earn revenue while you are away from your store.
Many stores offer a wider array of products online than they carry in their brick-and-mortar counterparts. And many stores that solely exist online may offer consumers exclusive inventory that is unavailable elsewhere.Potentially lower start-up cost:
Ecommerce companies may require a warehouse or manufacturing site, but they usually don’t need a physical storefront. The cost to operate digitally is often less expensive than needing to pay rent, insurance, building maintenance, and property taxes.
As long as an ecommerce store can ship to the customer, an ecommerce company can sell to anyone in the world and isn’t limited by physical geography.
Easier to retarget customers:
As customers browse a digital storefront, it is easier to entice their attention towards placed advertisements, directed marketing campaigns, or pop-ups specifically aimed at a purpose.But there are certain drawbacks that come with ecommerce sites, too.
The disadvantages include:
Limited customer service:
If you shop online for a computer, you cannot simply ask an employee to demonstrate a particular model’s features in person. And although some websites let you chat online with a staff member, this is not a typical practice.
Lack of instant gratification:
When you buy an item online, you must wait for it to be shipped to your home or office. However, e-tailers like Amazon make the waiting game a little bit less painful by offering same-day delivery as a premium option for select products.
Online images do not necessarily convey the whole story about an item, and so ecommerce purchases can be unsatisfying when the products received do not match consumer expectations.
Case in point:
An item of clothing may be made from shoddier fabric than its online image indicates.
Reliance on technology:
If your website crashes, garners an overwhelming amount of traffic, or must be temporarily taken down for any reason, your business is effectively closed until the ecommerce storefront is back.
Although the low barrier to entry regarding low cost is an advantage, this means other competitors can easily enter the market. Ecommerce companies must have mindful marketing strategies and remain diligent on SEO optimization to ensure they maintain a digital presence.
As noted above, ecommerce is the process of buying and selling tangible products and services online. It involves more than one party along with the exchange of data or currency to process a transaction. It is part of the greater industry that is known as electronic business (ebusiness), which involves all of the processes required to run a company online.
Ecommerce has helped businesses (especially those with a narrow reach like small businesses) gain access to and establish a wider market presence by providing cheaper and more efficient distribution channels for their products or services. Target (TGT) supplemented its brick-and-mortar presence with an online store that allows customers to purchase everything from clothes and coffeemakers to toothpaste and action figures right from their homes.
Providing goods and services isn’t as easy as it may seem. It requires a lot of research about the products and services you wish to sell, the market, audience, competition, as well as expected business costs.Once that’s determined, you need to come up with a name and set up a legal structure, such as a corporation. Next, set up an ecommerce site with a payment gateway.
For instance, a small business owner who runs a dress shop can set up a website promoting their clothing and other related products online and allow customers to make payments with a credit card or through a payment processing service, such as PayPal.