In 2020, it’s estimated that 60% of internet users will purchase products online — with more users shopping online than ever before.
This presents a ton of opportunity for business owners to take their businesses online and sell products through ecommerce.
The answer to the question “What is ecommerce?” is multifaceted. Beyond simply the act of selling online, ecommerce extends to different types of businesses and can involve selling across a variety of channels.
Savvy business owners see the potential in putting their products in front of where their customers are: online. Ecommerce is revolutionizing how businesses market their products, process orders, and offer support to their customers.
In this guide, we’re defining what ecommerce is, how it works, and how you can establish a successful ecommerce brand that thrives online.
What Is Ecommerce?
Ecommerce (electronic commerce) refers to all online activity that involves the buying and selling of products and services. In other words, ecommerce is a process for conducting transactions online.
When you go to your favorite online retailer to buy a new pair of shoes, you’re engaging in ecommerce. If you pay online to attend a music concert or buy a plane ticket through the airline’s website, that’s ecommerce, too.
Ecommerce doesn’t only occur on desktop, though. In fact, most ecommerce traffic is driven through mobile commerce. Spurred by the influence of smartphones and the comfort of online shopping, mobile commerce sales are expected to account for more than half of all ecommerce sales by 2021.
Ecommerce on the Rise
It’s predicted that worldwide ecommerce will reach $5 trillion by 2021 according to eMarketer.
To stay ahead of the curve, many business owners are taking their businesses online — not only by having a website but by selling their products and services directly through their website and other ecommerce platforms.
The latest ecommerce statistics highlight the fact that online shopping behavior is changing and that customer preferences are driving ecommerce growth:
Ecommerce sales are projected to reach 17.5% of retail sales by 2021.
Some 21.8% of the world’s population shops online. If you’re not selling online, you’re missing out on the opportunity to convert a massive pool of potential buyers.
According to Forrester, U.S. B2B ecommerce will reach $1.8 trillion by 2023.
Seventy-three percent of shoppers use multiple channels — including Google, social media, and email — to do their shopping.
To maximize sales and provide the tailored experience customers are looking for, it’s important to stay on top of the latest business trends. It’s clear that ecommerce is booming internationally, so now is the time to consider ecommerce as a viable business. With 95% of all purchases expected to be transacted via ecommerce by 2040, it’s not too late to ride the ecommerce wave.
While there are many reasons to start an ecommerce business, there are some amazing benefits you can expect once you get your business off the ground.
The benefits go far beyond the convenience of running your business online. Here are a few of the benefits to look forward to once you launch your online store:
Convenience. Ecommerce provides the best in convenience and accessibility. Customers can find exactly what they need, at any time, directly from their desktop or mobile device. More convenience for the customer translates into more business for your company.
Borderless Transactions. A physical store limits business operations to a specific geographical area. An ecommerce website, on the other hand, allows your business to reach more customers, globally — maximizing your selling potential.
Earnings While You Sleep. The internet never sleeps. With a physical store, you likely operate during regular business hours. With ecommerce, your products are available for purchase at any time to customers around the world.
Scalability. As your customer base grows, you can expand your ecommerce businesses to accommodate more sales. While expanding your physical store typically means relocating or renovating (which can be expensive), you’ll simply need to increase the bandwidth on your ecommerce platform to accommodate more traffic and orders. And, you can predict future sales based on past sales data and scale your platform up or down accordingly.
Personalized Experiences. With ecommerce, you can leverage the power of AI to create a personalized shopping experience for your customers. With AI-enabled up-selling and cross-selling, you present customers with products they’re most likely to be interested in, increasing your business’s sales.
Access to Innovative Technology. As technology continues to improve, you’ll find more ways to streamline your business processes — saving you time and money. With a physical store, there can be limitations to what technology can do. With ecommerce, you’ll find a range of apps and integrations that help you market your products, improve team collaboration, and provide faster customer service.
Affordable and Effective Marketing. Rather than rely on traditional marketing methods like print ads to drive traffic to a physical store, you’ll have a range of affordable marketing channels to drive customers to your ecommerce business. Search engine marketing, organic and paid social media ads, and email marketing allow you to reach a segmented market for a lower cost.
The Different Types of Ecommerce Business Models
Whether you sell products directly to customers or sell services to other businesses, you can sell online with ecommerce. In fact, there are many types of ecommerce models for you to consider before launching your online store.
Here are some of the different types of ecommerce businesses to choose from:
B2C — Business to Consumer
B2C ecommerce refers to selling goods or services to individual customers. B2C is what most people think of when they hear the term “ecommerce business.”
Traditional B2C sales occur between a business and a single customer. In this model, a shopper finds a business online and places an order, and the business sends the product to the customer. A B2C ecommerce strategy, then, involves leveraging consumer data to get a full view of consumers across their online shopping journeys.
B2B — Business to Business
B2B ecommerce refers to selling products or services to businesses. B2B companies typically have a higher order value and more recurring purchases.
B2B ecommerce products may include manufacturing equipment, distribution, website hosting services, financial services, or software solutions for businesses, just to name a few. These businesses provide other businesses with the products or services they need in order to grow.
D2C — Direct to Consumer
D2C ecommerce is similar to B2C in that the end customer is an individual consumer, but differs in that it gives manufacturers the opportunity to sell directly to consumers instead of or in addition to using third-party retailers or wholesalers.
Sell Online with Ecommerce
Ecommerce is a proven business model that helps drive revenue growth for some of the world’s largest brands. By getting started with ecommerce, you can reach more customers online and significantly increase your business revenue.
Visit Commerce Cloud today or check out our latest ecommerce resources and learn how to connect commerce to the full customer experience. To explore more about how partnership helps you scale and succeed, download the “Commerce Growth from Day 1 and Beyond” guide.