E-commerce is also known as Electronic Commerce is a business activity of buying and selling goods and services online instead of buying or obtaining them physically from stores.
Emergence of e-commerce
1960’s: CompuServe was the first-ever eCommerce company that was founded by Dr. John R. Goltz and Jeffrey Wilkins by making use of the dial-up connections. It was a major step towards the creation the development of the eCommerce Industry.
1970’s: Electric Shopping was introduced by Michael Aldrich, back in those days the technology was quite different, and business was carried out by connecting a transaction-processing computer which was then connected with a modified TV through a telephone connection.
1980’s: With the significant growth of technology, led emergence of the first eCommerce platform created by Boston Computer Exchange. It was the first-ever e-commerce service.
The 1990s: This was the prominent era when e-commerce boomed with the emergence of one of the most popular retail giants such as Amazon by Jeff Bezos and eBay by Pierre Omidyar created its first-ever e-commerce websites in the early 1990s then countless companies have followed its lead and succeed. Book Stacks Unlimited had launched as its first online bookstore by Charles M. Stack. PayPal was launched as the first-ever e-commerce payment system and one of the most widely used tools for money transfers even today. Alibaba was also founded as an online shopping platform with more than $25 million as capital.
2000’s: Google launched its advertising tool known as Google AdWords this way the retailers were able to utilize the pay per click (PPC). Square App a service-based app was launched. Etsy was launched to help small and medium scale retailers to sell their goods and services.
2010’s: Google launched its online wallet payment app. Facebook launched sponsored stories as advertisements. Apple introduced Apple Pay. Instagram introduced a new feature called shoppable tags- enabling people to directly sell from the social medial platform.
2020’s: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while the whole world was under a lockdown, most of the retailers were pushed to sell online and the e-commerce sector saw a rapid rise in its revenue. Before Covid-19 it was predicted that the e-commerce sector would grow by 4.4% to $26 trillion in 2020 however due to the pandemic those figures changed to an 18.4% growth rate and $4.15 trillion more sales. With the pandemic still going on in 2021, it is believed that there will be a rapid rise in retail e-commerce sales.
Types of E-commerce Business
There are mainly 3 types of E-commerce businesses models widely used in the world.
Business to Business
It is known as business to business or b2b, it’s a type of e-commerce model where businesses buy and sell products and services from other businesses. For instance, Shopify provides a platform for small businesses to connect and grow with other businesses.
Business to Consumer
It is known as business to consumer or b2c, it’s a type of e-commerce model where businesses sell goods and services to consumers online. This is a model where business put their products online and the consumer makes purchases of the products at the comfort of their own home. The consumers make payments for the purchased goods via COD (cash on delivery) or online payments via Google Wallet, Apple Pay. For instance, Amazon one of the largest retailer giants almost sells all the products like clothes, gadgets, groceries, etc.
Consumer to Consumer
It is known as consumer to consumer, c2c, it’s a type of e-commerce model where a consumer upload image of the products they want to sell to others who may be interested in buying them. For instance, eBay is an e-commerce site that enables consumers to sell any products to other consumers.
A Guide to starting E-commerce Business
Here are some expert-approved tips on how to start an e-commerce business of your own from scratch.
Explore various e-commerce business models.
As mentioned earlier, there are 3 main types of e-commerce models you need to first decide what type of products you wish to deal in. It’s important to know that e-commerce itself is a big investment and will require a lot of patience, time, and energy. Before you finalize what you want to sell online, and you need to understand how the market works and what are different e-commerce models available, and which one will be the best suitable for your business.
You need to be crystal clear with what you want to sell. Are you planning on selling products or services? Will it be physical or digital form? Do you intend to maintain a physical store? What will be the capital or funds are required by your business? What are the sources of those funds? What are the production costs and market price of your products? Who are your suppliers? How is the market of the product? Where will you store or transport? All these aspects should be well researched and planned before adopting an e-commerce business model.
Investigate various e-commerce platforms.
The next step is finding out which platform is suitable for you to carry out your business. There are various e-commerce platforms where you can carry out your business such as-
These websites are easy to use and have economical and affordable plans.
How to create an e-commerce website in 7 easy steps.
This website has clear instructions to get started with making a website. Many websites like Shopify and OpenCart offer a lot of website templates that you can buy and use on your website. Apart from this logo is a very important component of your business, something that drives attention towards the customers is an attractive logo, it is best suggested to use websites 99Designs and 19dollar logos. It is customizable and offers personalized as per the specifications. 19dollars is budget-friendly and the best solution for small businesses.
The next thing that needs to be kept in mind is to adopt a flexible payment option like COD (cash on delivery) a widely used option, band card (credit or debit card) payment, Google pay to ensure that transactions are carried out smoothly.
Another option if you are a B2C business, you can become a seller on amazon and create your own business store on the platform. If you are a B2B business, you can become a wholesaler at Alibaba. These are top e-commerce retail giants and can ensure guaranteed sales however the drawback is stiff competition from other brands offering similar products.
E-commerce License and Legal Procedures
Every country has its own law and legislation that needs to be followed when it comes to carrying out business activities. Every business needs to obtain an e-commerce license so that it can legally carry out its business. It is always advisable for e-commerce businesses to obtain patents and copyrights for their domain name, logos, trademark, etc.
The next step is to promote business there are various social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat to promote your business. Social media is the best and cheapest platform to promote business. You can also make use of Google’s Digital Marketing tools to like Google Ads depending upon the budget set aside for marketing and promotion of business. As the business progresses you can make use of Digital Marketing tools such as SEO, Email Marketing, Google Analytics. As your business progress do include Chatbots on your website for better customer engagement.
Why choose an e-commerce business as a career?
With the Internet penetrating each sector of business, any business can be carried out online. E-commerce businesses are very successful because it enables businesses to expand their operations across the world and deal with customers from different regions and countries of the world without having a physical presence. Many businesses have seen rapid sales turnover after having an online presence. A strong online presence has a competitive advantage over the business. E-commerce has helped many businesses to increase their efficiency.
Sales and Marketing have become so much easier in an e-commerce business, saves a lot of time for salespersons as it enables them to collect data of their customers and prospects, besides online sales is time-saving and all these factors increase the efficiency of the business. It has helped businesses to go customer-centric, as it has made customer services easier as they can connect with their customers online and ask for their feedbacks enabling them to improve their quality of products and shopping experiences. This way business grows closer to customers understand what they want and make better business decisions and plan strategies for future.
In conclusion, an e-commerce business cannot replace the traditional practice of doing businesses i.e., the physical form of doing business, but it has transformed the way of doing business.