In 2019, it was estimated that 1.92 billion people made goods or service purchases online. This saw internet sales revenue surpassing $3.5 trillion worldwide.
While the world was already well into a digital trend, the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has accelerated a global change in the way we shop. From clothing to groceries, consumers are increasingly interested in a 24/7 shopping model known as eCommerce.
In fact, experts have projected that by the end of 2020, eCommerce sales will reach around $4.2 trillion, making it the fastest-growing retail market we have ever experienced.
So, what is this online shopping phenomenon, and how can you earn a chunk of its impressive profit? Follow along to learn everything you need to know about online stores and how you can reap the benefits of this changing world.
What is eCommerce?
eCommerce describes the buying and selling of products or services using the internet. The act of eCommerce uses digital platforms to facilitate a sale and collect funds for the transaction.
The first known record of a digital sale took place in 1994 when a Sting CD was sold between friends using an American retail platform called NetMarket. Since then, the scale of online shopping has skyrocketed, seeing an impressive year over year growth margin.
You are likely familiar with many of the large eCommerce style businesses, including Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba. These are what we relate to online stores; however, eCommerce is not limited to Physical products like we see on these large sites.
Any online transaction falls into this category, including the sale of freelance services, digital goods, and even software (SaaS). All of these transactions require the use of digital technology to process fund exchange online and generate a sales order.
How to Start
If you are interested in starting an eCommerce store, there are a few factors you will need to consider before your launch.
First, you’ll need to decide what you are selling and who you would like to sell it to. Not every online store appeals to the same audience. Each product or service option will fall into a niche market.
Identifying your niche will be important for drawing in relevant customers. Beyond which customers you appeal to, you will also need to decide what type of target you are dealing with.
When an online store is launched, it will typically use one of the following target market approaches. Identifying your approach will streamline your marketing and advertising efforts and help you customize your buyer’s experience. Business to Consumer (B2C)
This is what most of us think of when we think of shopping. Just like a retail store, a business will offer a niche product or service specifically to consumers. Business to Business (B2B)
One business providing a service or product specifically for other businesses. We will see things like booking software for salons or marketing services in this category.Consumer to Consumer (C2C)
This is when consumers are selling to each other. This is commonly seen on sites like eBay where a consumer will sell their used goods to someone else rather than throwing them away or donating them. Consumer to Business (C2B)
We’ve seen an increase in this approach with the rise of social media influencers. When an influencer offers to post or recommend products in exchange for a commission or a payout, the transaction would be described as C2B.
Once you have an idea of your eCommerce store target, you can start researching and sourcing your product or service. This will look different for each store format.
The product or service you choose to sell will fit into one of the following formats. This will help you develop your store’s brand, online presence, and determine what elements you will need for your website.
If you already have a brick and mortar location and are looking to expand your sales online, this will be your format.
A retail eCommerce store will basically mimic a store that you see at a shopping center but in a digital space. An important element to consider here is that the look and feel or your online store should be just as branded as a physical location.
This format typically falls into a business to business approach. A wholesale store will offer bulk options at a discounted rate for businesses that intend to resell those products or use them in their business practices.
Some wholesale stores will require membership to access discounted deals.
If you are a crafter or looking to sell items that you physically have on hand, this will be your store. This type requires the maintenance of inventory and may even sell made-to-order products.
A great example of this platform is Etsy. Sellers either make or acquire products that they sell to consumers. Digital Product
This is where you will offer the sale of music, ebooks, software, applications, and more.
These products don’t need to be shipped and will not require any inventory to be maintained. They exist purely in a digital state and can be accessed in mere-seconds from anywhere in the world.
Perhaps one of the most popular options for sellers who do not have a warehouse or storage space.
This pertains strictly to physical products and utilizes the use of a 3rd party company to manufacture and ship product to buyers. The seller maintains the website and customer service but outsources the logistics of the actual product.
This is the format that allows store owners to travel the world and work from a laptop.
When a startup company is developing a product, they will often use a crowdfunding approach to get the idea off the ground.
Generally, this will be an invention that serves to solve a problem for the user. Interested consumers can invest in the development of the product by pre-purchasing the item. This enables companies to ensure there will be a demand for the product and fund the building of it without risking a loss of profit. Subscription
Much like a magazine subscription, these stores will offer a service that’s delivered on a schedule. Most often, the service will take a monthly fee in exchange for a recurring shipment.
Some stores will also approach this by having a minimum monthly order that needs to be placed each month in order to earn rewards, access discounts, or have a VIP experience.
This category covers all service-based exchanges, whether they target other businesses or consumers.
This is where you will see freelance and contract services like writing, advertising, or photography. Platforms like Fiverr that link buyers with the professionals who can complete the required service utilize this style of sales.
Developing your own site for your services will cut out the commission that job sites like this take.
Once you categorize your store and understand your competition, it’s time to build your eCommerce business.
Your eCommerce website will be the space where shopping takes place. This is where your consumers will get to know your product, understand your brand, and of course, make a purchase.
While online shopping is more convenient and more readily available, it does face a challenge that brick-and-mortar locations do not.
When customers visit a storefront, they have the opportunity to experience the environment first hand. They can touch products, try on items, and have a chance to feel everything before they take it home. Online stores aren’t able to provide these elements and must accentuate the benefits and features that they do hold.
Today’s consumer has the opportunity to simply hit the back button and find a more suitable sight if any part of the experience does not meet their expectations. Because of this, it’s incredibly important to provide users with a seamless experience from front to back.
Your website will need to be SEO optimized so that consumers can find you among the competition. Performance should be tailored for users by ensuring excellent speed and load times as well as mobile-friendly features.
A slow website will encourage an increase in abandonment by 75%. Customer loyalty also drops by 50% just because of this inconvenient factor. Ensure you have a top-quality site that incorporates seamless transaction processing for increased sales and return customers.
The Benefits of an eCommerce Store
Tapping into the digital world can be an incredibly profitable venture. Because your store is online, you will be able to reach an audience much greater than that of a physical storefront.
Online shopping has no open or closing times, allowing customers from any time zone to have the exact same experience. On top of this, the absence of a physical location with employees and overhead costs will decrease your running costs and allow customers to access your products at a lower rate.
You’ll have the ability to work from wherever you desire as the market is not limited to one particular city or even country. You can tailor your approach based on market demand and have valuable analytics right at your fingertips to aid in your marketing and facilitate growth.
Build Your Business
Now that you know exactly what eCommerce is, you’re ready to break into the world of business ownership and start capitalizing on this growing industry. From your product choice to your online store, we are confident that you’ll be set up to make the most of your entrepreneurial venture.
Ready to launch the best possible eCommerce store? Get in touch with us today and start wowing customers with your incredible online space.