Definition: B2C (Business-to-Customer) ecommerce is the exchange of goods or services over the internet between online stores and individual customers. Consumer preference for the convenience of online shopping — coupled with the ease of starting an online store — has made ecommerce among the fastest growing sectors of the economy.
The origins of ecommerce date back to the late 1990s. With increased internet usage, many businesses saw the benefits of selling directly to consumers over the web. There are now over 100,000 B2C ecommerce businesses in the United States alone.
Ecommerce growth is rapidly increasing: online sales predicted by some analysts to grow approximately 10% in 2015 over 2014 levels. The estimated $279 billion worth of ecommerce sales in 2015 compares to 2010 sales of $176 billion. Online sales as a percentage of all retail sales, projected at a range of 9-11% for 2015, still leave the industry significant room for market-share driven growth.
Ecommerce simplifies the shopping experience for both consumers and vendors. Successful online stores can be launched in a matter of days, while shoppers appreciate the ease of making important purchases from the comfort of their own home.
B2C ecommerce is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, it is not without competition. Many web-based B2C companies thrive by identifying a niche with competitive opportunity.
Developing a strong web marketing presence is crucial for online businesses. Customers can walk down the street and stumble upon a physical store; on the web, this type of encounter requires visibility across one or more channels such as SEO, SEM, and affiliate referrals. Marketing for online businesses isn't optional, but necessary to continually drive new users to their store. Though more proactive effort is required for online businesses, ecommerce platforms greatly simplify these efforts with built in marketing features and simple 3rd party integrations.
Shoppers at physical storefronts are acutely aware of the store layout, cleanliness, and ease of finding products and information. These factors are equally present for ecommerce businesses, with shelves and shiny floors replaced by: