BigCommerce helps growing businesses, enterprise brands, and everything in-between sell more online.

What is Ecommerce?

At its heart, ecommerce is where any electronic transaction takes place. Any type of payment that is processed online can be considered a form of ecommerce.

Many in the business world would place an additional qualifier on the definition of ecommerce. They necessitate that the electronic buying and selling of goods is the main component of any business model for those in ecommerce.

This definition applies to those who think big and wish to replace brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart or for niche businesses that solely deliver a digital product or service.

What are the Benefits of Ecommerce?

It makes it easier to reach a global market.

An online presence is the only way for any business to maximize its reach. While a website and social media can be great for increasing brand awareness, it’s transactions that generate revenue. Adding online purchasing to your business model ensures that you can generate new leads from anywhere in the world with a network connection.

Speaking of social media, many platforms have become privy to the ways of the world. Channels like Instagram have added a checkout option and Shoppable Stories so users can make purchases without even having to leave the platform. Ecommerce also works synergistically with tools like referral program software that can organically grow your customer base.

It does business around the clock.

Brick-and-mortar stores have operating hours. Even those that are 24/7 still need to be staffed around the clock. Ecommerce presents an easy path for even the smallest businesses to offer a 24/7, 365-day shopping experience for their customers.

This means you won’t miss out on sales from odd hours, holidays or simply because getting to a physical store isn’t conducive to one’s schedule.

It minimizes costs.

Building an ecommerce website is cheaper than the upfront investment required in a brick-and-mortar location. We're talking orders of magnitude in savings.

Of course, you may require one or more people to manage and maintain your ecommerce site. However, this pales in comparison to the number of staff required to run a physical store with a sales team.

Ecommerce also helps mitigate the costs of other areas like logistics and marketing. Affiliates and referral programs are a cost-efficient way to generate leads (you only pay if they convert). And dropshipping services offer an all-in-one solution to storing and shipping items to your customers.

The great thing about ecommerce is that it is not an all-or-nothing business model. It’s not simply a case of affiliate marketing vs dropshipping. You can mix and match both, adopt neither, try one and then the other or choose anything that best suits your business (and budget).

In this scenario, the customer also wins. You can pass on the savings to the consumer and beat out the prices of their local shops.

It improves customer experience.

People’s lives today are busy and loaded with distractions. Many of us prefer to have flexibility in how and when we use our time. Ecommerce creates the most convenient shopping experience available today.

Consumers can shop from a computer, mobile, or smart device of their choice. This means they can make purchases while having breakfast, on public transport, getting ready for bed or even while on the job (not that you would do that of course).

Modern tools have streamlined the checkout process allowing customers to come back and complete a purchase at a later time. Other solutions have helped to create the personalized shopping experience that customers now expect. They expect your website to remember their purchase history and make relevant recommendations. Personalization helps build loyalty and increase customer lifetime value (CLV).

Most importantly, ecommerce lets you interact with customers at any time and get invaluable feedback. This means you can always be improving your products, services and shopping experience. And that means more satisfied customers.

You don’t need any coding or web developing skills. Platforms like BigCommerce make it possible for anyone to have an ecommerce store up and running in no time.

What are the Different Types of Ecommerce?

Business to business (B2B).

If a business's main customer base comprises other businesses they sell to online, that’s considered B2B ecommerce.

The B2B ecommerce sector may include wholesalers who sell physical products to online and brick-and-mortar stores. As well as companies that sell other products in smaller numbers, but always to other businesses, not individual consumers.

Business to consumer (B2C).

We can’t escape the endeavors of the modern world. For all intents and purposes, we become consumers on this planet the minute we exit the womb. Business to consumer is the marketplace of our childhood; it’s where we feel at home.

Online shopping has been growing in market share for a long time now. All it took was a global pandemic to accelerate B2C ecommerce to the four corners of the earth. Consumers will continue to increasingly shop online for anything from fashion and beauty to hobby interests and groceries.

Consumer to business (C2B).

Now, when we think of a transaction, we normally think of a business selling a product or service to a consumer. But like quantum interactions, transactions have no arrow of time.

In other words, consumers can pawn off their items to businesses via online transactions and vice versa.

A popular model for C2B is where the consumer uses their own websites to drive affiliate marketing traffic to an agency or brand. Affise is an example of a platform that essentially lets consumers sell their marketing services to businesses.

Another example would be freelance job sites such as Upwork and Fiverr. These platforms link businesses up with individuals who sell their services by performing contract-outlined tasks.

Consumer to consumer (C2C).

If you were born before the year 2000, you would have been to a yard sale or two. If you haven’t heard of these things, it’s where people display old and used stuff (also known as junk) on their lawn that can be gotten for a fee. Nowadays, people can look online to buy nearly anything from other consumers.

The most famous examples of C2C ecommerce websites are eBay and Amazon. With eBay, it’s easy for anyone to put up a listing for a small fee but many sellers are full-fledged businesses.

While Amazon’s main focus is on B2C, consumers themselves can also create listings for new and used products.

Direct to consumer (D2C).

At first glance, D2C ecommerce may appear no different than the standard model of business to consumer. But there is more to it than meets the eye. With direct-to-consumer, it’s the developers or manufacturers that sell directly to consumers. This is quite appealing, especially for niche producers, because it lets businesses directly interact with their customer base.

D2C lets companies cut out the middleman and also glean valuable feedback to improve their products. Big manufacturers like Nike sell directly to consumers via their online presence, as well as selling wholesale to retailers, for example.

The Final Word

Ecommerce is ubiquitous in modern life. Both businesses and consumers alike should expect electronic transactions to be the standard for most business models. And it provides an easy and convenient way for companies to expand their reach, increase sales, reduce costs, and vastly improve the customer experience.

Regardless of how you spell it or define it, ecommerce is here to stay. The future looks to bring us continuously evolving and improving technologies. Customer expectations are changing alongside digital innovations. If your business can’t meet those expectations, it will fall behind the competition.

Luckily, it’s not too late to join the world of ecommerce! So what are you waiting for?

BigCommerce helps growing businesses, enterprise brands, and everything in-between sell more online.

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