Trade, be it barter exchange or buying and selling of goods and services has been prevalent for centuries. No one can be self-sufficient. And this brings out the need for demand and supply of goods and services. Transactions have been going on all over the world for centuries, locally, and across locations. But e-Commerce is something that came about only with the advent of the Internet.
What is e-Commerce?
Keeping the same concept in mind, now think electronic. e-Commerce, also known as e-Business, or electronic business, is simply the sale and purchase of services and goods over and electronic medium, like the Internet. It also involves electronically transferring data and funds between two or more parties. Simply put, it is online shopping as we commonly know it.
e-Commerce started way back in the 1960s when organizations began to use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to transfer documents of their business back and forth. The 1990s saw the emergence of online shopping businesses, which is quite a phenomenon today. It has become so convenient and easy, that anyone can shop for anything right from a living room, with just a few clicks. This has evolved more with the emergence of smartphones, were now, you can shop from anywhere and anytime, with a wireless device connected to the Internet. Now you can search for almost any product or service online, without having to go anywhere physically.
Types of e-Commerce
- Business-to-Business (B2B): Electronic transactions of goods and services between companies.
- Business-to-Consumer (B2C): Electronic transactions of goods and services between companies and consumers.
- Consumer-to- Consumer (C2C): Electronic transactions of goods and services between consumers, mostly through a third party.
- Consumer-to-Business (C2B): Electronic transactions of goods and services where individuals offer products or services to companies.
- Business-to-Administration (B2A): Electronic transactions of goods and services between companies and public administrations.
- Consumer-to-Administration (C2A): Electronic transactions of goods and services between individuals and public administrations.
Advantages of e-Commerce
- Global market reach
- Global choice for consumers
- Short product/service distribution chain
- Lesser costs and pricing
Disadvantages of e-Commerce
- Fraud and online insecurity
- Data privacy issues
- No testing or checking of services or goods
- Dependence on electronic technologies
What are e-Commerce Websites?
e-Commerce websites are those online portals that facilitate online transactions of goods and services through means of the transfer of information and funds over the Internet. In the early days, e-Commerce was done through emails and phone calls. Now, with a single website, anything and everything that a transaction needs can be executed to perfection.
There are different types of e-Commerce websites. The most common type is retail selling, but there are many others too, like auction websites, business-to-business services, music portals, consultancy websites, finance management websites, and the like.
What Makes a Good e-Commerce Website?
If you are looking to start and e-Commerce website, there are a few things that you need to understand and keep in mind to be successful in the game. Make no mistake, there are many online shopping websites out there, and the top few are such great brands that they control most of the market share. A few apt examples are Amazon, ebay, Alibaba, Flipkart, Walmart, and Snapdeal
Now, this does not mean other players don’t stand a chance. If you have a small business, you can concentrate on your location, like city or state. You could also specialize in a particular line of products that sets you apart. Whatever the reason, you need to keep these pointers in mind to run your online store efficiently and successfully.
First, your website should have a neat, clutter-free, and user-friendly interface. Users should be able to find whatever they are looking for easily, be it pricing, images, carts, copy, etc. Your website loading time should be less. The images and a copy of your products or services should be professional. People love to see what they are getting, and what they see is what makes them decide. If possible, include videos for important products.
As far as possible, if you are selling a product(s), do not charge for shipping, because, in most cases, that is a deal breaker. Always display the number of items in stock. You do not want to keep your customers guessing, or disappointed. Regularly conduct limited time deals, sales, and special offers. These things have attracted people before, and will always continue to do so. Recommend related products when a purchase has been made. A bundle offer is great and should turn out to be cheaper than buying different products separately.
Make sure you are in control of your analytics and know exactly what is working, and what is not. Demographics also play an important part as far as target consumers are concerned. You want to display the right things to the right people. An FAQ section is necessary to answer all common queries that may arise. Do not leave any room for doubt, as that breaks a sale even before it is done. Your contact information should be clear, complete, and up-to-date. Trust plays a very important role in online shopping.
Have multiple payment options available. Every individual customer has his preferences. Make sure you cater to everyone. You return policy should be properly in place and one that suits your customers. Most people decide on buying after looking at the return policy of an e-Commerce website.
Last but not the least! Post a lot of reviews and testimonials on your website. People love to read other customers’ experiences before becoming a customer themselves. Post a few negative ones too. This section should not look all made up to suit your business. If you are thinking of setting up your online store on WordPress, then search free or premium e-Commerce WordPress themes which allow you to customize your website for various elements like display latest products, best sellers, highlight products, showcase testimonials, etc.
e-Commerce has made the world a much smaller place, thanks to the Internet. It is convenient, fast, and easy. The number of people turning to e-Shopping is only going to rise as time goes by. So make your business go online, have a clutter free and easy to use e-Commerce website, and see your sales and profits rise.