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What is Ecommerce? Definition, Examples, Platforms, Tips


Learn everything you need to know about ecommerce and how start and grow your online store, selling products online on auto-pilot.

What is Ecommerce Definition, Examples, Platforms, Tips

Ecommerce has evolved from a few innovations in the 1960s and 1970s to a flourishing and multi-trillion-dollar industry today. 

With a lot of entrepreneurs and businesses trodding into the market, the industry has become more difficult to succeed in, especially for startups.

The concept of eCommerce has become an intricate combination of a lot of platforms and activities, unlike we knew it to be decades ago.

Understanding modern eCommerce would help businesses to get around the market and take care of problems that have been hard to solve.

This article presents comprehensive information about all that eCommerce is made of today and how businesses can have leverage in succeeding in the industry.

What Is Ecommerce? A Short Definition

Short for Electronic Commerce, and also known as internet commerce, eCommerce is the buying and selling of goods and services over the internet.

It is the use of computers, smartphones, or tablets, among other electronic devices, to complete or facilitate business transactions involving buying and selling.

Ecommerce, as an industry, is as great a medium for commercial transactions as the traditional commercial industry.

Almost everything can be possibly sold through it.

From regular everyday products to large properties and even music and financial services, any type of transaction can be completed through eCommerce in today’s world.

Ecommerce has become a huge part of our lives today and owes much of its popularity to the convenience it provides individuals and businesses.

It provides a lot of opportunities that even popular mass retail brands like Target and Walmart have supplemented their brick-and-mortar models with eCommerce models.

Types of Ecommerce Models

The four main business models that define the majority of eCommerce transactions include;

  • Business To Customer (B2C)
  • Business To Business (B2B)
  • Customer To Business (C2B)
  • Customer To Customer (C2C)
Types of Ecommerce Models

1. Business To Consumer (B2C)

Business To Consumer (B2C) is the most common and popular amongst the four business models of eCommerce.

B2C refers to the sale of goods and services from manufacturers, wholesalers, or retailers directly to the end consumer.

The term “B2C” isn’t only restricted to eCommerce transactions but is also used in traditional commerce.

In the conventional, physical world of commerce, it can refer to transactions like individuals shopping at a mall or eating at a restaurant.

However, in recent times and regardless of this, it is a more popular term in the eCommerce world.

In the B2C eCommerce model, consumer preference and satisfaction are the most important factors in determining how well a business or transaction fares.

The B2C eCommerce model is one out of the two forms of e-tailing, the other being the B2B eCommerce model.

2. Business To Business (B2B)

Business To Business (B2B) eCommerce refers to the sale of goods or services between two businesses.

This eCommerce model involves transactions flowing from;

  • Suppliers to manufacturers
  • manufacturers to wholesalers
  • manufacturers to retailers, and
  • wholesalers to retailers.

The main difference between B2B and B2C businesses is the absence of consumerism and the intention to purchase goods and services for the sole aim of converting them into sales.

B2B transactions majorly form the complex part of the whole supply chain.

They naturally involve recurring large orders and sales, close collaborations, and multiple clients for buying and selling.

B2B transactions also commonly involve careful planning, contracts, and long-term relationships between all the transacting parties.

Although these transactions are more than common in the traditional commerce arena, the introduction of online sales portals has made them easier to manage.

Operations in the whole eCommerce supply chain are now more streamlined and cost-effective thanks to order fulfillment services.

3. Consumer To Business (C2B)

Consumer To Business (C2B) is a business model that serves as an inverse model to B2C eCommerce transactions.

The C2B eCommerce model involves usual consumers or individuals offering valuable goods or services to commercial businesses for a price.

These individuals don’t specialize in selling goods or services en masse like retailers or wholesalers.

An example of a C2B eCommerce transaction is paid reviews or idea proposals that offer value to businesses.

Reverse auctions take place in the C2B eCommerce business model, facilitated by C2B web services or platforms.

In reverse auctions, consumers dictate the price of goods, and businesses willing to sell at that price contact the consumer to transact.

This model is seen in freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr where individuals looking for freelancers present a price and receive bids from interested sellers.

Both consumers and businesses have a lot to benefit from this business model, however, this is the least popular among the four eCommerce business models.

4. Consumer To Consumer

The Consumer To Consumer (C2C) model entails commercial transactions between individuals without the intention of recurring business transactions taking place.

This eCommerce model is facilitated by marketplaces that help to ensure commercial transactions between consumers are seamless.

The C2C model emerged alongside the development of eCommerce and has considerably become popular, with well-known marketplaces like Etsy and eBay being the most prominent platforms.

Consumers are allowed to place different items up for sale and these platforms only facilitate the whole transaction and collect a fee for this service.

The C2C eCommerce model also involves auctions where different individuals are allowed to place different bids for the purchase of an item.

The web service or platform only acts as an intermediary and charges a flat fee.

One major problem with this business model is the lack of quality control, due to a lot of the products being secondhand.

There is also a lack of extensive guarantee for the completion of payments.

Classifying Ecommerce Businesses According to What They Sell Online

1. Physical-Based Ecommerce Business

Physical-based eCommerce businesses are businesses that sell physical goods like clothes, shoes, accessories, or devices, among a lot of others, through the internet.

This is the most common type of eCommerce business.

Sometimes, eCommerce platforms like Shopify and Amazon help to host these businesses and facilitate the sales and purchase of physical goods.

Physical-based eCommerce businesses, most of the time, have fewer limits to business growth than regular brick-and-mortar stores.

This is due to the possibility of a massive customer reach.

Even the most popular physical stores have been driven to establish a base for themselves in the online world of commerce.

However, the supply chain operations required to keep these businesses running can be extremely tasking for medium and large-scale businesses.

Some examples of Physical-based eCommerce businesses include shoe and apparel retailers Allbirds and Nike.

2. Digital-Based Ecommerce Business

Digital-based eCommerce businesses are businesses that deal in digital goods.

By digital goods, it refers to products that are used on electronic devices like personal computers and mobile phones, among other electronic devices. 

These products include multimedia files like music, gifs and videos, ebooks, online courses, and software, among a lot of others.

Unlike physical goods, these digital products are mostly required to be downloaded or directly accessed and used over the internet without any need for physical contact.

This type of business model makes it extremely easy for digital merchants to extensively increase their customer range, even more than Physical-based eCommerce businesses.

The absence of an overly complex supply chain and the lack of a need to physically deliver or pick up products make it a very comfortable eCommerce model for both businesses and consumers.

However, one downside of running a digital-based eCommerce business is the problem of rampant piracy or copyright infringements.

Some examples of digital-based eCommerce businesses include PlayStation, Microsoft, and Adobe.

3. Service-Based Ecommerce Business

Service-based eCommerce businesses are business ventures that help individuals or companies to complete work, provide knowledge or solve problems in exchange for compensation.

Some of these services may include that of a freelance graphic designer, writer, educator, or legal consultant.

While, in most cases, consumers and service providers engage in further negotiations about how the price of a service is determined, services can also be purchased immediately.

A situation where services are purchased immediately can be seen in the C2B model of Upwork, for example, where consumers propose a price, select the preferred service provider from the list of bidders, and immediately enter into a business agreement.

Service-based eCommerce businesses are not limited to transactions that are wholly completed over the internet.

Individuals and companies that offer physical services make use of an eCommerce website to advertise services and provide a medium for booking appointments and paying bills.

Service providers like Mane Hairdressing are examples of service-based eCommerce businesses.

The internet is filled with a plethora of platforms that are specifically optimized for each classification of eCommerce businesses.

Benefits of Ecommerce

1. Reduced Cost

E-commerce helps businesses, either startup, growing, or established, to significantly save costs on capital investments in running a business.

Physical businesses or stores require operational facilities or bases from which business is carried out.

This creates a need for extra manpower, rent, and maintenance, among others, reducing the expected ROI from capital investment.

Online stores or eCommerce websites allow businesses to boycott the need for servicing these extra costs.

Opening an online store or eCommerce website is significantly more beneficial when considering the overall value for money it offers.

Even with the largest collection of inventory items requiring a need for extensive organization and manpower, 3PL services exist to reduce the administrative and financial burden that could arise.

Dropshipping in eCommerce also provides a highly cost-effective way for startups to easily and efficiently scale business activities.

2. Efficient Advertising And Marketing Campaigns

Advertising an eCommerce business on the internet is also one of the cost-friendly benefits of eCommerce.

Different internet services, like Google ads, offer online businesses a chance to execute personalized advertisements without having to take extra steps to individually study potential customers.

Marketing campaigns are also cost-effective and efficient through tools like MailChimp (email marketing) and Sumo (social media marketing).

Through these specialized tools, businesses pay less for a great customer reach for advert and marketing campaigns.

eCommerce also offers businesses a faster medium to convert interested users from advertising and marketing campaigns through easy access to business websites and specialized landing pages.

3. Extended Customer Reach

There are over 4 billion active internet users across the world today and that creates an abundance of opportunities in achieving business goals.

The customer reach of traditional businesses is usually limited to customers that can contact, locate or access physical stores or outlets.

This isn’t the case for eCommerce businesses.

Alongside extensive marketing and advertising reach, eCommerce allows potential customers from around the world to easily access product inventories and make purchases from the convenience of mobile devices.

The existence of international order fulfillment companies who operate warehouses around the globe makes the delivery of goods to customers around the world easier and more feasible than ever imagined.

4. Dynamic Payment Methods

The financial framework of our modern world has been greatly affected by the internet, with more innovative payment gateways opened for individuals and companies to choose from.

Traditional businesses have limited options and mostly take payments through cash deposits, credit cards, or debit cards.

Ecommerce allows for more extensive explorations of these payment mediums.

With additional payment channels ranging from eWallets to cryptocurrency, the options for eCommerce businesses and their customers are extensive and allow for proper personalization.

Quick History of Ecommerce

The Beginning

Although it is said that the first recorded eCommerce transaction took place in 1972, the history of eCommerce can be traced back to the Advent of the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) in the 1960s.

The EDI allowed companies to exchange business documents, like such containing orders or invoices, through electronic means from one computer in an organization to a computer in another organization, and in a defined format.

The Development Of Transaction Processing Systems, The 1970s

The acclaimed first eCommerce transaction took place in 1972 when students of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory used ARPANET accounts to arrange the sale of cannabis to students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 1972, Mohammed Atalla filed a patent for a secure transaction system over telecommunication networks, and in 1976, he partnered with the Bunker Ramo Corporation to introduce a secure online transaction processing system intended for financial institutions.

In 1979, Michael Aldrich introduced the first electronic shopping system, nicknamed teleshopping, made out of telephone lines, a television, and a transaction processing system.

The Move Towards Full-Scale Internet-Based Commerce, The 1980s

In 1981, the first Business To Business (B2B) online shopping system, called Thomson Holidays UK, was introduced, and in 1982, the concept around teleshopping spread across France through the introduction of Minitel.

Karen Earle Lile and Kendall Ross Bean, in 1983, created an eCommerce service in San Francisco which hoped to serve as an electronic marketplace for buyers and sellers of pianos.

Customer service was offered through a Piano Advice Hotline and money was paid through wire transfer when the sale of a piano was complete.

Further developments were made through the creation of a B2C online shopping system and CompuServe Electronic Malls in the US and Canada in 1984.

In 1989, the first comprehensive system for internet-based eCommerce was launched by the name “Compumarket“.

 It allowed sellers to upload items for sale and required buyers to search the database for an item they were looking for and make purchases through credit cards.

The Advent Of Today’s Giants, The 1990s

The WorldWideWeb hypertext project and browser were built in 1990 using a NeXT computer and this opened the way for extensive public access to the internet.

In 1994, Netscape released the Mozilla Netscape 1.0, which was introduced alongside SSL Encryption, making online transactions over the web secure.

In the same year, the Ipswitch Mail Server became the first software available for purchase and immediate download over the internet and the first secure online purchase took place when a Sting CD was sold through NetMarket.

In 1995, Amazon and eBay were launched, eBay being the first auction-based website that supported P2P transactions.

Electronic Postal Stamps were made available alongside PayPal which made global eCommerce transactions relatively seamless in 1998 and, in 1999, the Alibaba Group was established in China.

Global eCommerce reached a total worth of $150 billion in 1995, and today is recorded to be worth over $10 trillion.

The development of eCommerce was defined by the extraordinary growth and achievement of Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay between 2002-2015.

Best Ecommerce Platforms to Start Your Online Store

1. Netsuite SuiteCommerce

Best eCommerce Platform for B2B and B2C Online Experience

NetSuite-Oracle-SuiteCommerce

SuiteCommerce by Oracle Netsuite is a cloud-based eCommerce solution that delivers an engaging online experience for online shoppers and merchants. The software helps online businesses leverage the internet to grow their business and cut their business costs.

Medium-sized businesses and large enterprises use SuiteCommerce to deliver unique and engaging B2B and B2C online experiences for their customers. Merchants can conveniently run business and customer relationships on the platform without having to switch between platforms.

You can drive more traffic to your web stores, and transform your static website into a dynamic eCommerce portal that increases online revenue with SuiteCommerce.

The CRM, ERP, and eCommerce platform unifies both physical and digital commerce solutions in a single product. Online businesses can use this feature to offer their customers an omnichannel shopping experience.

Companies and businesses with a global audience use SuiteCommerce global features such as the support of multiple languages, currencies, and brands. 

SuiteCommerce is compatible with any device including mobiles, tablets, and desktops. It adjusts its size to different screen sizes and device capabilities. The eCommerce software makes use of single-page architecture to drive fast site engagement, conversions, and performance. 

2. Shopify

Offers The Most Comprehensive Collection Of Ecommerce Tools And Features

Shopify Offers The Most Comprehensive Collection of Ecommerce Tools and Features

Shopify proves to be the number one platform for building an online store or eCommerce website as it offers internet users the most complete set of tools to choose from.

With over 1 million active users plying their trade on the platform worldwide, the eCommerce platform has facilitated the sales of over $40 billion worth of goods and services.

Combining both its easy-to-use, highly specialized website builder with its WordPress hosting services, Shopify places quality website building tools and features at the fingertips of its users.

The eCommerce platform also features its competent payment portal, Shopify Payments, alongside over a hundred other payment options.

Users don’t need to look outside its platform to make websites come alive as Shopify also offers integrated website hosting services.

Business owners have all the required specialized tools and features for a comprehensive eCommerce experience that can’t be found anywhere else.

3. BigCommerce

Cheaper Option With A Competent Collection Of Specialized Ecommerce Tools And Features

BigCommerce is a platform that Competent Collection of Specialized Ecommerce Tools and Features

Much like Shopify, BigCommerce is another eCommerce platform that is specifically optimized to provide eCommerce services to business owners.

The eCommerce platform offers integrations with WordPress and provides its users with an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop website builder.

Its website builder is accompanied by preformatted templates and specialized eCommerce tools, making the creation of eCommerce stores and websites very user-friendly for beginners.

Alongside its long list of payment portals to choose from, BigCommerce also provides fast and secure website hosting services as well as website analytic tools.

This allows for a chance to effectively improve eCommerce business operations as relating to a website and facilitates business growth.

Combining all these, BigCommerce proves to be a beginner-friendly option that provides users with comprehensive eCommerce website management options.

4. Zyro

Ecommerce Platform With Very User-Friendly Features

Zyro Ecommerce Platform With Very User Friendly Features

Zyro is a platform that offers one of the most user-friendly collections of features and tools to facilitate the building and management of an eCommerce website.

The eCommerce platform provides over 1 million royalty-free stock images to its users alongside preformatted templates.

These options are accompanied by a drag-and-drop website builder, allowing users to see how websites will turn out before the website building process is complete.

Zyro also provides an AI-powered writing assistant that makes the content written in a professional eCommerce website or online store more appropriate and free from errors.

It also offers its users an automated logo maker, a slogan generator, and a business name generator to supplement its already enticing options.

Combining these user-friendly options with integrations with popular eCommerce platforms like Amazon, SEO optimization, and its integrated website hosting services, Zyro proves to be another competent eCommerce platform.

5. WooCommerce

Open-Source eCommerce Platform Built Around WordPress

WooCommerce is an open Source eCommerce Platform Built Around WordPress

WooCommerce is a customizable, open-source platform that serves as a plugin, working with any website powered by WordPress and offering secure payment and shipping options to its users.

Through its marketplace, the eCommerce platform also offers multiple extensions and purchasable features that help business owners to extend the functionality of eCommerce websites or online stores.

The platform also allows users to manage their eCommerce websites on the go through its WooCommerce Mobile App.

This app allows users to process orders and monitor website analytics data in real-time.

WooCommerce is also optimized for advanced developers, providing an API that offers both scalability and extensive, complex eCommerce website design options to users.

The eCommerce platform provides support through a global community of interactive users and customer support experts spread across 58 different countries.

6. Shift4Shop

Offers Feature-Rich Ecommerce Solutions For Free

Shift4Shop is an eCommerce platform that offers free solutions to every business

Shift4Shop is an eCommerce platform that offers free solutions to every business’ basic online store building and hosting needs.

The eCommerce platform provides an intuitive website builder that gives users hundreds of professionally designed, industry-specific, preformatted, and highly customizable templates and themes.

As well as access to a network of design experts, Shift4Shop offers a long list of powerful product and order management features, SEO tools, social media tools, and email marketing tools, among a lot of others.

It also provides seamless integrations with secure payment portals that are certified as PCI compliant.

Integrations with other internet platforms and services like Facebook, eBay, Amazon, and FedEx, among others, present users with a comprehensive collection of tools that covers all their eCommerce needs.

7. Wix

Ecommerce Platform With A Versatile Collection Of Website Building Features

Wix is an Ecommerce Platform With a Versatile Collection of Website Building Features

Wix is a platform that is competently optimized for both beginners and advanced website developers with its collection of features.

It offers its users over 500 customizable preformatted templates to choose from, making it easy for first-timers to begin their website-building activities.

An Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) tool that helps to create a website after a few questions are answered by the user is also provided.

For advanced users, Wix provides a Velo Open Dev platform for the creation of extensively customized websites through the use of codes.

The website building platform also provides users with mobile optimization features, as well as fast and secure website hosting services bolstered by expert technical support. 

Wix combines all these with a logo maker and effective SEO tools that can help to place a website or brand at the forefront of internet searches.

Wix is the biggest website building platform and has helped to build over 160 million websites for over 200 million users worldwide.

8. Squarespace

Ecommerce Platform With Award-Winning Website Design Templates 

Squarespace is an Ecommerce Platform with Award Winning Website Design Templates

Squarespace is a website building platform that offers its users award-winning, high-quality design and template options to choose from, suitable for both regular and eCommerce stores.

The eCommerce platform provides professional portfolio design options which allow users to display their products or services seamlessly.

It also offers the option of password-protected web pages, allowing business owners and clients to share confidential information over the internet without the need for an external platform.

Squarespace also provides top SEO and website analytic tools that allow business owners to effectively manage eCommerce website activities and get the most out of their eCommerce business.

Integrations with popular platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram also add social media marketing functions to Squarespace.

With a mobile app allowing for website building at any place and any time, Squarespace proves to be an all-around pick for attention-seeking eCommerce businesses.

9. Magento

Ecommerce Platform With Specialized Solutions For Different Ecommerce Business Models

Magento is an Ecommerce Platform with Specialized Solutions for Different Ecommerce Business Models

Magento is an eCommerce platform that offers extensive, personalized options for small, medium, and large scale businesses as well as B2C and B2B business models.

The eCommerce platform works with external marketplaces and offers a consultation service that helps users to start their eCommerce journeys on the right track.

Magneto offers an integrated hosting platform and is free for small-scale businesses or new users to get started. The eCommerce platform works with extension marketplaces and offers a consultation service that helps users to start their eCommerce journeys on the right track.

Released in 2008, Magento is currently owned by Adobe after it was acquired from Etsy and, today, helps eCommerce businesses in facilitating the sale of over $100 billion worth of merchandise volume per annum.

What are The Biggest Online Marketplaces for Selling Online?

In 2019, online marketplaces contributed to over 50% of eCommerce transactions, accounting for over $1.7 trillion in revenue growth and forecasted to grow significantly in the following decade.

Some of the most popular marketplaces that contribute to this growth include:

1. Amazon

Largest Marketplace Suitable For A Global Customer Reach

Amazon is the Largest Marketplace Suitable for a Global Customer Reach

Amazon is the largest global marketplace available to eCommerce entrepreneurs and buyers, hosting over 1.9 million active sellers and enjoying over 5.7 billion visits per month with over 4000 items sold per minute.

The online marketplace was launched in 1995 by Jeff Bezos, has grown in size since its launch and, today, is worth over $300 billion, amassing over $20 billion in net income revenue in 2020.

Although “Electronics” is the most popular Amazon product category, it is still a competitive marketplace for every type of product ranging from kitchen utensils to furniture to clothing and a whole lot more.

Amazon also runs a fulfillment service, Fulfillment By Amazon, that allows different eCommerce businesses to properly manage their order processing operations and efficiently serve a global customer base.

Today, over 89% of buyers in the United States prefer buying from Amazon to any other online retail marketplace.

2. eBay

Trustworthy C2C Online Marketplace

eBay has grown to be one of the largest global online C2C marketplaces on the internet today

Also founded in 1995, eBay has grown to be one of the largest global online C2C marketplaces on the internet today with over 1.6 billion visits per month.

eBay offers both online shoppers and buyers features that make the whole eCommerce experience more convenient.

It offers an advanced search and filter option that gives buyers intuitive ways of getting personalized content without having to go through a long list of uninteresting products.

eBay offers sellers an API that allows them to personally create and manage store listings, integrate special payment processes, and track bidders.

This API also offers CRM options and allows sellers to manage sales and order processes and conveniently resolve issues that may arise, among a lot of others.

3. Etsy

Marketplace Optimized For Transacting A Wide Range Of Art And Craft Products 

Etsy is a Marketplace Optimized for Transacting a Wide Range of art and Craft Products

Etsy is another global online marketplace serving up to 2.5 million sellers and recording an average of 266 million visits per month.

The platform has over 60 million items listed on it and, upon its purchase of Reverb, a music marketplace, serves as one of the largest and most popular marketplaces for arts and crafts products.

Learning how to sell on Etsy is easy. There are over 60 million active buyers on Etsy, meaning sellers have a very large pool of consumers to attract.

Etsy connects users to a large community of buyers and fellow artisans with common interests, creating a chance to gain inspiration and also have access to visitors that are more likely to make a purchase.

Sellers also have access to feedback, SEO, and analytics options, as well as logistics options that allow them to manage and track order shipments.

The marketplace also allows sellers to manage store activities through a mobile app and provides supportive, educational content that gives sellers advice on how to grow on its platform.

4. Alibaba.com

Extensively Optimized For B2B Transactions

Alibaba.com is one of the largest cross border B2B  online marketplaces in the world

Founded in 1999 by the Alibaba Group, Alibaba.com has grown to be one of the largest cross-border B2B online marketplaces in the world with over 150,000 suppliers and 10 million buyers.

The platform offers a long list of additional features and services to facilitate international B2B transactions of its users.

From CRM tools, Analytics, and Auto-translation tools to international freight logistics services among a lot of others, Alibaba ensures that sellers and buyers have a seamless experience in effectively growing their business.

In 2010, the AliExpress marketplace was launched to enable cross-border B2C transactions for retailers around the world.

This B2C AliExpress platform records over 639 million visits per month and proves to be a great platform for dropshipping.

Best-Selling Product Ideas to Sell Online

E-commerce is a different ball game from traditional commercial activities when it comes to sales in our modern world. 

A product that is fast moving in the physical world could be one of the slowest online.

Succeeding in eCommerce is all about taking opportunities and starting on the right track.

One way to do that is by choosing the right product niche that will guarantee sales and here are the best selling product categories in the eCommerce market.

Fashion

Also among the top-selling products in traditional commerce, Fashion products, such as apparel, shoes, and wearables, among others are the most popular items among consumers in the eCommerce world. 

Online shoppers worldwide are projected to spend over $750 billion on fashion products in the year 2021, which is over 27% of the total projected Physical-based eCommerce sales. 

This means that for every $4 of sales made, the fashion category constitutes more than $1.

Fashion is a very general term and choosing a specific product to sell to make a profit can be a challenge.

Popular products like shirts, shoes, and slides, among others are fast-moving in the market, unfortunately, a lot of businesses are dealing with this, and breaking through can be one of the toughest tasks.

However, some fashion products have seen spikes in searches in recent times according to Google Trends and mostly consist of female fashion products.

These include hair removal products, Ionic hair brushes, hair extensions, athleisure, and shapewear, among a lot of other products.

One factor that has aided the growth in demand for fashion products is the ease of returning goods in case there are problems.

A lot of businesses offer returns for free and processes are not as complicated because most fashion items are not as fragile as other product categories.

This gives buyers enough confidence in purchasing products without having to worry too much about how the whole transaction turns out.

The eCommerce fashion industry is also expected to make a 15% year-on-year growth in the coming years.

Toys, Hobby, and DIY

The second most popular product category in the Online shopping business is the Toy and games category.

It is projected that over $590 billion is expected to be spent on these products as the market is fuelled by the endless demand for toys by children.

New toys and related games are released every year, with the movie industry significantly contributing to this.

The product category is so prominent among buyers that Amazon, the most popular eCommerce marketplace, releases a yearly list of the top 100 toys and games.

This information could help sellers to pinpoint the exact type of toys or games that appeal to buyers before investing in buying products.

Amazon also presents an hourly update about the best-selling toys and games.

This also gives eCommerce businesses an insight into which toys or games are currently trending in sales and among buyers.

Some of the popular toys and games include LOL dolls, Crayola products, and Jenga.

Electronics

The electronics products category is projected to bring in an estimated revenue of $542 billion in the year 2021, making it the third highest-selling product category in the global eCommerce market.

The growth of technology is not getting hindered soon and that equally translates to the growth of the electronics industry.

The top-selling products in this category include Bluetooth speakers, mobile phones, TVs, computers and accessories, and video game consoles.

However, just like the fashion industry, sales are dominated by the larger and more established brands, and breaking through will be tough.

It is advised that interested eCommerce businesses concentrate on eCommerce activities involving hyper-specific product niches.

Growing an eCommerce business from this point is easier to achieve with the right business activities.

Perishables

Surprisingly, perishable goods are also among the top-selling products in the online shopping market.

The perishables market is expected to generate a revenue of $468 billion before the year 2021 runs out.

According to Statista, the foods and beverages category takes a considerable share of this market size, accounting for over $276.9 billion in revenue.

This category is also expected to grow by 8.21% annually and is projected to worth over $379.6 billion by 2025.

However, the perishable-product market is very delicate and requires proper planning to manage successfully due to the varied, limited durability of products.

Furniture and Appliance

The furniture and Appliance eCommerce market is estimated to reach an estimated $362.9 billion in revenue in 2021.

The market revenue is expected to grow at 5.84% per year and is projected to reach $455.4 million by the year 2025.

China helped to generate over  $110.8 billion in 2020, making it the largest market spot, while the US market attracted $62.2 billion and Europe generated $50.7 billion in revenue.

The furniture and homeware product segment is expected to generate over $229.2 billion, the bulk of the revenue in 2021.

Although there are a lot of big names in the furniture industry, buyers are not all drawn in.

Up to 49% of furniture queries over the internet were non-branded.

This means that a lot of buyers are only interested in shopping for quality pieces of furniture from any brand that can provide them.

Amazon provides a list of best-selling items for each category of products on its market space, giving sellers an idea of which specific products are attracting more attention from shoppers.

1. Cost-Reduction Is The Number One Reason People Shop Online

Ecommerce, and the internet in general, offers consumers a lot of options to choose from.

This gives buyers freedom in choosing the appropriate cost and quality of a product they need to purchase. 

This is why according to Pymnts, 33.6% of shoppers look up the prices of products online while in a physical store.

Statistics also show that most shoppers rate reduced spending as the major factor that determines where they choose to shop online.

Top reasons people shop online 2020

According to a GlobalWebIndex report, free shipping is what most consumers look for.

This is followed by coupons and discounts, reviews, an easy returns policy, and an easy online check-out process.

This means eCommerce businesses should focus more on using strategies that help consumers save costs and also build trust in them.

2. Emerging Markets Will Play A Huge Role In The Future

Emerging markets are expected to contribute over 3 billion additional buyers in the eCommerce market by the year 2022.

This will push eCommerce sales to an estimated 20% of global retail sales.The list of emerging markets includes country-specific markets like that of South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, India, and Egypt, among a lot of others.

3. Customer Experience is A Key Factor In Keeping Buyers

It is generally known as a business principle that the customer or consumer base of a business is its main driving force.

58% of customers avoid transacting with a business after going through a bad experience with it.

62% of mobile website users are unlikely to buy from a business in the future after a poor experience on a mobile website.

Individuals also have more trust in a business that makes directly contacting its employees easy.

This is because easy contact builds more confidence for situations where problems may arise.

With these, businesses are notified that maintaining an effective customer service system goes a long way in keeping customers.

This will, in turn, create a chance for business growth and development.

4. Cart Abandonment Statistics

An average of 77.2% of online shopping carts are abandoned by online shoppers.

This high rate of cart abandonment is largely due to complicated check-out processes and high additional costs charged after checking out orders. 

Mobile phones are the devices responsible for the most abandoned carts with over 85%, closely followed by tablets and desktops.

Cart Abandonment Statistics

This is caused by the additional inconvenience smartphone users experience while shopping online.

A lot of eCommerce websites are not properly optimized for mobile devices.Also, 41.09% of cart abandonment follow-up emails are opened by shoppers, meaning email campaigns are great tools for fighting against cart abandonment.

5. Millennials Engage In Online Shopping More Than Any Age Group

According to a study of US buyers, most online shoppers are between the ages of 25 to 55 which accounts for 52.9% of online shoppers.

The age group of 25-35 serves as the age denomination with the most online shoppers, constituting 20.2% of digital buyers.

The second highest age group is recorded to be between 35-45 years old with 17.2%, closely followed by the 45-55 age group with 15.5%.

Ecommerce Examples: Success Stories and Total Flops

The eCommerce market has seen a lot of businesses, both start-ups and existing, looking to benefit from its immense potential and advantages.

Sadly, a majority of eCommerce businesses fail to grow to an admirable size and only a few have truly succeeded in milking the market of its true potential.

Here is information about how a couple of businesses have scaled the challenges and become one of the biggest in their respective niches.

1. Beardbrand

Online Store For Beard Maintenance Products  

Beardbrand is an Online Store for Beard Maintenance Products

Founded in 2012 by Eric Bandholz, Beardbrand has grown to be one of the most, if not the most successful, in its eCommerce niche.

Eric realized the lack of quality beard maintenance products in the industry and decided to fill up this wide gap.

The eCommerce business started as a blog and YouTube channel, focusing immensely on building its fan and customer base through the media platforms.

Mindless of its considerable YouTube popularity, the online store wasn’t launched until a New York Times article was due to be made about the brand.

The Online Store was launched in 2013, a day before the New York Times article was released, and resultantly capitalized on the extra popularity it got.

Apart from its beard sales activities, the eCommerce brand continues to update its blog posts.

Beardbrand keeps its customer and fan base interested in the world of beard maintenance.

Today, Beardbrand seamlessly converts its huge fan base to thousands of dollars in sales every day.

Key Takeaways 

  • Building a brand before launching an online store or eCommerce website gives a business venture unprecedented leverage in succeeding in the online world. 
    This can be seen in BeardBrand’s use of blogging and YouTube platforms to create a name for itself and also get recognition from top media outlets.
  • Opportunities are bound to arise and making the right move at the right time allows an eCommerce business to get as much as it can from the eCommerce world.
    Beardbrand launching its eCommerce website just before a New York Post article about its brand was released is a perfect example of that.
  • Customers can be kept enthusiastic about products with educational and interesting blog posts.
    Beardbrand continues to serve its website visitors with the type of blogging content that gained its brand initial recognition.

2. Traveller Collective

Online Store Dealing In Travel Accessories 

Traveller Collective is an Online Store Dealing In Travel Accessories

Traveller Collective is an online store founded in 2015 that was created to provide travel enthusiasts with an intuitive travel accessory.

Daryl McIvor, the founder, and a travel enthusiast came up with the idea on one of his travels after realizing a need for country souvenirs that were not flags and different from the conventional.

With his “…last $50” Daryl launched his online store and sold country-specific, engraved rings and ring couriers handmade by him.

Travelers could collect (buy) from his store and add to their collection as they visited different countries.

For a few years, his online store grew in popularity through “word-of-mouth” and his initiative quickly caught the fancy of a lot of travelers.

Over 10,000 travelers from 100 different countries have patronized the eCommerce business and it found a way to build a community.

Traveller Collective makes use of Instagram as its main internet platform to promote its eCommerce website.

It has its own hashtag “ #ontheroadwithtc “ which buyers can use to showcase their rings and also help promote the business on the social media platform.

Traveller Collective also reposts these Instagram posts on its Instagram account.

With buyers showing enough enthusiasm, the brand makes extensive use of images or posts of customers showcasing its accessories as major content on its eCommerce website.

This user-generated content helps to create enough trust in potential buyers and convince them of how enjoyable and intuitive the travel experience is with his accessories by their sides.

Traveller Collective also has a mission to solve the problem of plastic pollution accompanying tourism.

The eCommerce business contributes 5% of all its profit to Plastic Change, a Danish international and environmental organization that helps to politically educate and advocate about the dangers of plastic.

Key Takeaways 

  • Solving a problem or filling a void is a good initiative in starting an eCommerce business as it helps even the smallest of businesses attract internet users with the same problem.
    This is seen in Daryl creating an intuitive accessory that provides travelers with a subtle way of updating travel records without having to use conventional flags or souvenirs.
  • User-generated content is always a good bet in converting more visitors to buyers or customers on an online store or eCommerce website.
    Daryl makes extensive use of Instagram posts about his products from customers to build trust in potential buyers and website visitors.
  • Having an important or world-changing mission pushes interested individuals into making purchases to support it.
    Traveller Collective makes its mission to make the environment free from plastic known to its website visitors.

While these two eCommerce startup businesses found success, even with different strategies, popularity, and chances for success, other established brands have failed woefully in eCommerce.

An example is Kanoa, manufacturers of wireless headphones.

In 2015, the company got crowdfunded to build headphones but it couldn’t produce headphones that were up to the standards it set earlier.

By 2016, it started all over again, produced headphones, and eventually sent prototype headphones to a popular YouTuber for reviews.

Four days after the unfavorable review, which included information about Kanoa willing to pay the YouTuber $500 for a favorable review, the company ceased all operations.

The major factor that dented the company’s chances at business success is that all the trust held by potential buyers had been lost and there was little chance of gaining it back.

The eCommerce market is a very difficult market to breakthrough, however, getting certain aspects right like trust-building and problem-solving, among a lot of others, can help to improve the chances for success.

Ecommerce Tips and Best Practices

There are a lot of eCommerce businesses out there trying to grow and become one of the best in their industry.

Sadly, not so many of them make it to the top or even make as much profit as they would’ve wanted.

The eCommerce market can be very competitive and here are a few tips and confirmed best practices that would give businesses leverage in the online world of commerce.

1. Simplicity Is Key

This tip goes to the website design of any eCommerce website or online store.

A lot of successful eCommerce businesses make it one of the most compulsive measures to be taken when designing a website.

Using simple website design and template arrangements makes sure that website visitors are not overwhelmed with too much content.

Visitors can freely go about the website without much difficulty.

Easy navigation brings about and maintains the desire to further explore a website, increasing the chances of converting visitors. Keep Calls to Action visible. Let it stand out from other content. 

This makes sure that website visitors know exactly what to do to engage with an interesting area of a website.

Menus should also be kept as organized and minimal as possible.

The use of generalized dropdown menu options instead of hyper-specific or laid-out tabs does a great job in keeping website content as minimal and simple as required.

Cluttered pages only build confusion and the feeling of confusion is not one that businesses wish to create in the minds of website visitors.

This should be considered, especially given the plethora of options available to buyers on the internet.

2. Optimize Websites For Mobile Devices

As of the third quarter of 2020, statistics show that 55.4% of the worldwide online shopping population made use of mobile devices.

This means that over half of the converted online shoppers in the whole world made use of either a smartphone or tablet to make purchases from different online stores or eCommerce websites.

A large majority of mobile shoppers avoid dealing with a business with poor mobile optimization.

Taking this into account, it is advised that website optimizations should also be aimed towards making the mobile device experience as seamless and of high quality as that of personal computers.

Website templates should be soothingly responsive to mobile devices, proper testing should be done to ensure that mobile websites load fast and, also, check out and payment procedures should be made easy to navigate.

Missing out on this large number of willing mobile device shoppers means missing out on a massive chance to increase sales and grow online business activities.

3. Keep Ecommerce Activities Properly Secured

The growth of the internet has also been met with an unfortunate growth in internet-related criminal activities.

Hackers and fraudulent elements roam the internet and a significant number of internet users have been painfully and successfully targeted by these criminals.

In the US alone, about 47% have been victims of credit card fraud in the past 5 years.

This explains why a lot of internet users remain highly skeptical about the safety and genuineness of eCommerce websites.

For both website owners and visitors, the security of every component of a website is very important.

For website owners, safeguarding the WHOIS information of a domain from public access helps to prevent pieces of delicate information from getting into the hands of impersonators.

Making use of SSL encryption helps to keep information exchanged between a website browser and server as protected and secured as possible.

SSL encryption makes these pieces of information, such as passwords and credit/debit card details, among a lot of others, scrambled and unusable even if access to them is gained.

Google also prevents access to a lot of websites without SSL certificates.

Payment portals or gateways integrated with an eCommerce website should also be accredited to be popular and trustworthy.

Popular payment gateways like PayPal, Amazon Pay, and Venmo are only a few of these payment gateways.

4. Offer Discounted Or Reduced Costs

As mentioned earlier in this article, the major determining factor in how people shop online is reduced shopping costs.

Free delivery and coupons/discounts precisely stand as the top two factors.

Helping customers to save costs goes a long way in pushing them to make purchases and also retains their interest in future patronization.

Some of the few brilliant ways of making this customer behavior advantageous include

  • Offering discounts or free shipping for higher volume or higher-priced purchases. This ensures users spend more and allows businesses to offer considerable discounts that would not greatly affect profit margins.
  • Discounts in exchange for email addresses, making obtaining information for email marketing campaigns easier.

Offering mouthwatering deals such as free shipping for products is a sure way to get more visitors to make purchases.

5. Prioritize SEO Optimization

A considerable number of online shoppers, 36% to be exact, make use of search engines while looking for products to purchase online.

This is done instead of going directly into marketplaces or online stores.

Search Engine Optimization is a very important step for both online Stores, general eCommerce websites, or any other type of website.

Pushing for your website to appear as one of the top results in search engines is very important in finding new customers and beating the competition.

Using the best SEO tools is a cost-effective method of attracting internet users to an eCommerce website when compared to paying for targeted internet ads.

Unlike these other promotional strategies which seize to work immediately, SEO remains effective even after a website owner fails to renew subscriptions.

Other tips to improve the result of eCommerce activities include; adding website search bars, sending cart abandonment emails, keeping the order check out process short, and website analytics, among a lot of others.

Ecommerce FAQ

How many eCommerce transactions are there worldwide?

The specific number of eCommerce transactions that take place online is not overly determinable but it is estimated that there are over 2.1 billion buyers in the global eCommerce market.

With the world population at about 7.8 billion, this accounts for over 27% of individuals worldwide. 

Ecommerce transactions are also estimated to be over 18% of global retail sales with online marketplaces accounting for 40% of these digital commercial activities.

Additionally, there are over 21 billion monthly visits to different retail eCommerce platforms and websites worldwide.

These numbers are expected to keep rising with more and more people being introduced to technology and the eCommerce world.

How big is the Ecommerce market size?

According to Grand View Research, the global eCommerce market size was valued at $10.36 trillion as of the end of 2020.

China is recorded to have the largest eCommerce market value, with its worth estimated to be about $1.94 trillion.

The total revenue of the eCommerce market is expected to rise to over $11.4 trillion worldwide by the end of the year 2021.

Is Ecommerce still growing?

The eCommerce market is expected to keep growing over the coming years with more people being introduced to it.

The advent of the Covid-19 pandemic caused the eCommerce market to undergo a 27% increase in 2020 due to more people buying more products online. 

The global eCommerce retail sales market is expected to undergo a 14% growth in 2021. This accounts for an over $600 billion increase in retail market value.

By 2024, it is projected that eCommerce sales would account for almost 22% of total global retail sales.

What are the biggest Ecommerce companies?

The biggest eCommerce companies today remain Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay.

Amazon is the largest eCommerce company worldwide with a market cap of over $1.5 trillion.

The eCommerce giant provides a series of eCommerce solutions, from its popular marketplace, which is the most visited worldwide, to its order fulfillment services.

Alibaba is a Chinese conglomerate with a market cap of over $620 billion.

Its popular marketplace offers quality solutions for B2B transactions and the company manages a subsidiary B2C platform called AliExpress.

eBay proves to be the largest and most trustworthy eCommerce marketplace for C2C transactions among individuals around the world.

What days do people shop the most?

According to SaleCycle, the most popular days for online shopping happen to be Monday and Thursday, with Thursday slightly edging Monday.

It is also recorded that the 29th of each month serves as the day with the largest amount of eCommerce activities.

This trend is owed to the fact that the 29th is a regular payday for monthly earners.

What time do people shop online the most?

According to SaleCycle, the period between 8-9 pm proves to be the peak moment for eCommerce activities. The trend looks to be on a consistent rise from around 4 pm and drops after the 10 pm mark.

What are the main features of an Ecommerce website?

Ecommerce websites come in different models and are built for different purposes.
However, few features are common to top eCommerce websites.

A user-friendly interface, which allows potential customers to easily navigate to important areas of the website.

High-resolution videos and images, which make a website appeal to visitors looking for high-quality goods and services.

Dynamic payment options, which give customers the financial options for a seamless, comprehensive online shopping experience.

Shopping carts, for online stores, and trust-building content, such as customer reviews, give visitors much-needed confidence in dealing with a brand.

Other features include contact information, search bars, FAQ sections, and mobile device optimization, among a lot of others.

What are the best eCommerce online store builders?

There are a lot of popular website builders in the market today, however, when it comes to eCommerce, even some of the most popular are found lacking.

Shopify offers the most comprehensive collection of tools and features specialized to run even the largest scale of eCommerce businesses.

BigCommerce also offers a wide variety of specialized eCommerce tools and features and serves as a cheaper option to Shopify, making it a suitable choice for beginners.

Wix gives both beginners and advanced developers all they need to create an eCommerce website.

It does this through its AI-powered website creation features and code-based platform for extended website building capabilities.

Is starting an Ecommerce business worth it?

For interested individuals, starting with or expanding through eCommerce isn’t a bad idea.

The eCommerce industry is expected to keep growing significantly, all through the next decade.

Starting an eCommerce business gives aspiring individuals more potential for extensive business growth and development.

eCommerce covers a lot of concepts like dropshipping and service outsourcing that make growing and concentrating on a business more productive.

Different eCommerce platforms are also optimized to make it easier for every scale of business to succeed.

Choosing the right eCommerce model for a business niche as well as the right platform to power eCommerce activities gives business owners enough leverage for business success.

How much money do I need to start an eCommerce business?

You need money to spend on a domain name, website hosting, Inventory management, and payment processing to start your eCommerce business.

Domain names cost an average of $8 per year to keep running while website hosting costs about $29 per month on the average for startups.

Developing a website by yourself helps to save costs as hiring a website developer costs an average of $2,000.

Other necessities are determined by the number of inventories and sales being managed and processed.

SEO optimization also costs an average of $500.

Overall, without the cost of inventory included, opening a comprehensively featured small-scale eCommerce website may cost an average of $1,000.

A medium-sized eCommerce website costs an average of $3,000 for the first year.

What is the difference between eCommerce and eBusiness?

It can be said that eCommerce is only a part of eBusiness.

While eCommerce deals with the buying and selling of goods or services, eBusiness encompasses every use of online technology for business activities.

E-business consists of the use of the internet to run or manage any type of business activities and, unlike eCommerce, is not limited to monetary transactions.

While eCommerce requires the presence of a consumer, eBusiness includes the use of the internet to facilitate both external (consumers and service providers) and internal(employees or overall business management) activities.

How to build an eCommerce website from scratch?

Setting up an eCommerce website for success requires a lot of carefully planned out activities to be carried out.

After picking a niche to start with, for startups, the next steps include;

Making proper market analysis to understand how the market is shaped and know the challenge and competition that awaits.

Proper market analysis allows businesses to set realistic goals and also helps to identify a Unique Selling Proposition that could be a deciding factor in converting visitors.

Businesses can also identify the best logistics or delivery partners to partner with for delivering physical products.

After making proper analysis, businesses then hire an experienced website developer or pick a full-featured website builder and build on their own to save cost.

Selecting a specialized website builder like Shopify or BigCommerce allows for the most extensive capabilities in building a competent eCommerce website. 

The next step is to decide the website features that are important for achieving business goals.
Features like payment portals, SSL encryptions, SEO optimization, and integration with marketing tools are crucial for any type of eCommerce business.

After building a comprehensive website with an appropriate UI/UX design, the next step is to register a domain name and select a quality website hosting platform.

Some website hosting platforms allow internet users to register a domain name with them, serving as one-stop destinations for bringing a website to life.

After reviewing the market strategies, website features and also making sure that all features are properly streamlined, businesses can perform A/B testing, if allowed.

This allows businesses to determine the website design and features that are most effective before fully launching the eCommerce website.

How to Start Your Ecommerce Business

The growth of eCommerce has caused a massive influx of sellers or businesses, willing to have a go at succeeding in its trillion-dollar market.

The massive competition in the market today makes it difficult for businesses, most especially startups, to easily attract customers and grow.

There is no sure-fire way of succeeding in the eCommerce market, however, running a business according to certain principles could go a long way in improving the chances of success.

Apart from making investments in one of the high-demand eCommerce niches, investing in the right eCommerce platform to sell goods is also an important step. 

Now, the choice is between Online marketplaces and personal eCommerce websites.

The largest and most popular online marketplaces available to buyers and sellers include Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba.

Amazon is the largest online marketplace that offers B2C businesses extensive cross-border eCommerce business options. eBay is the largest and most trustworthy platform for Consumer-to-Consumer transactions.

Alibaba is specially optimized to provide extensive, quality B2B options and make Business-to-Business transactions as seamless as possible.

Although a lot of online shoppers make online marketplaces their first point of contact, the competition on these platforms is always more difficult to overcome than personalized eCommerce websites.

Personal eCommerce websites offer businesses more control and choosing the best platform to host these services allows for extensive eCommerce business activities. The best eCommerce platforms in the market are Shopify and BigCommerce.

Shopify offers the most comprehensive selection of features available for every scale of business to extensively manage their eCommerce activities. BigCommerce also offers extensive specialized features, however, not as much as Shopify. Zyro offers users one of the most beginner-friendly website builders in the market.

Written by
Martin Luenendonk
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