Advantages of eCommerce to your business

About eCommerce

In the first part of this eCommerce series, we had a look at the basic concepts of eCommerce including the different eCommerce models, some eCommerce trends, and a few popular eCommerce marketplaces. We reviewed the popular eCommerce models including B2B (business to business), B2C (Business to Consumers), C2C (Consumers to Consumers), C2B (Consumers to business), and D2C (Direct 2 consumers).

In this part, we will have a look at the advantages of eCommerce for businesses and consumers. 

Why are more and more consumers going online?

A couple of decades ago, our team had launched India’s first online stock trading platform. There was a lot of scepticism about the success of the venture because of obvious reasons. The Internet was a new thing and very few people had access to the internet. People were using low-speed dial-up modems for time-critical operations on the internet. It was not easy for people to transition from the prevalent physical stocks to the new paradigm of electronic stocks. Cheques and cash were the primary modes of payments, and people were not comfortable with online transactions.

However, despite all the naysayers predicting an untimely demise of the platform, the venture was and continues to be a roaring success. Customer acquisition went through the roof and we were doubling the number of trades every month. The organisation grew manifold within a short time. 

Some of the reasons that led to the success of the platform continue to be relevant in the current times. Online shopping is convenient and saves a lot of time. Customers do not have to visit a shop or stand at the checkout to complete their shopping. Online shopping offers more variety and options all in one place. Customers can take advantage of reviews and ratings before buying a product. These advantages will continue to drive consumers towards eCommerce in the future and therefore businesses must adopt eCommerce as a significant sales channel.

Advantages of eCommerce to business

Now that we have discussed the benefits of online shopping to customers, let’s have a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of eCommerce for a business.

Lower financial cost

Ecommerce solutions are relatively inexpensive compared to traditional brick-and-mortar shops. The startup cost of an eCommerce business is much lower than a physical store. 

Physical stores may incur start-up costs in terms of deposits for the premise, interior design, store signs, inventory, and other equipment. In addition to start-up costs, other recurring costs include rent for the premises, staff salary, and the cost of maintaining an inventory. These costs could result in a delay in realising the return on investment.

Ecommerce shops are relatively less expensive to set up, and typically include the cost of designing or developing an eCommerce solution. In some cases, you can take advantage of an existing eCommerce marketplace, like Amazon, and register your business as a vendor on such portals. That would reduce the start-up cost even further. 

Recurring costs for eCommerce businesses include the cost of maintaining the digital infrastructure, maintenance costs related to the portal, and marketing costs. ECommerce businesses typically require a lesser number of back-office staff. There may not be a requirement for stocking large inventory as we would normally do in a physical retail store.

Reach a larger customer base

Unlike a physical store that can be accessed by a limited number of customers who stay within proximity of the shop, an eCommerce shop is easily accessible to anyone with an internet connection. This is of great benefit to the business as an online store can potentially sell to a far larger customer base. 

This of course depends on the product or service that you are selling. Typically sale of service is limited to a location, say a city, whereas products can be sold and shipped to the entire world.

Although eCommerce portals have a larger reach, customer acquisition comes at a cost. We will discuss customer acquisition later.

Your shop never closes: 

A physical store is open for business for a limited period. The volume of sales depends on the customers that can access the store during the open hours. 

Unlike a physical store, eCommerce portals are always open for business. Customers who cannot take the time to visit a physical store can still access the online store at their convenience. Sales can happen any time of day or night and across time zones. That potentially increases the opportunity for sales manifold.

Showcase your bestsellers

Your best-sellers are products that have been purchased by other customers in the past and have received good reviews. You would want all your visitors to know about your best-selling products. 

Ecommerce portals allow you to customize your shop front and other product pages, so the best-sellers are showcased appropriately to prospective customers. This increases the potential for selling these products even faster.

Offer personalised experience to customers

One of the biggest advantages of an online shopping experience is that you can personalise the entire eCommerce portal as per your customer’s preferences and needs. 

Some of the basic customer personalisations may include displaying the customer name and allowing a customer to select a colour scheme, language, and currency of choice. Customers may also want to save their preferred payment method and their billing addresses saved in the portal for future purchases. All of these personalisations go a long way in making the purchase experience easy and enjoyable for the customer.

Some of the more complex and subtle personalisation would include displaying products or services based on past purchases or searches. For instance, some online grocery stores allow customers to save their shopping lists online so that they can easily customise their lists for future purchases. Other portals may display supplementary products based on the purchases that are already made.

In addition to personalising the eCommerce portal, you can also personalize marketing campaigns as per your customer’s preferences.

Easier to induce impulse purchase

Online eCommerce portals often adopt various innovative methods to induce customers to purchase from their portals. 

Attractive use of imagery for a product could be a very effective way to induce customer decisions. For instance, a furniture store may display a piece of furniture in different home settings, so that the customer can identify the one that closely resembles their home. 

Often an eCommerce portal displays the stock availability for a product, or the time left to avail an offer. This is an effective scarcity tactic that induces customers to panic purchase. Some eCommerce portals sell more products during the offer period than they do during the entire year.

Access to customer data

Ecommerce portals have ready access to customer information including contact details, location, buying history, and search patterns. These pieces of information can be used to run effective and targeted marketing campaigns. 

For instance, an eCommerce portal may run a campaign to get all customers who had abandoned their shopping cart to return to the portal and complete their transactions. Another way to use customer data effectively is to display previously searched products on the portal home page so that customers can restart the purchase process from where they left off. Often eCommerce portals also display products that are supplementary to previous purchases to induce a need for the product. All of these can only be done if the eCommerce portal has access to customer information.

Scale your business quickly

Ecommerce businesses incur lower operational cost. These businesses can be managed with fewer employees. Ecommerce businesses also and have lesser inventory requirements than retail shops. Portals can process a high number of orders within a limited time because there is no manual intervention. The visits to an eCommerce portal can also be enhanced through inexpensive marketing campaigns like blogs. It is therefore relatively easier to scale an eCommerce business compared to a retail store.

Disadvantages of an eCommerce business:

Before you consider starting an eCommerce business, you should be aware of some of the potential pitfalls. Ecommerce is a very competitive space, and thousands of businesses are trying to sell products or services similar to yours. Your eCommerce business is technology-driven and therefore technical issues could have devastating effects on your business. eCommerce businesses often fail to address some niche customer behaviors, for instance, some customers like to try products before they buy.

We will learn more about the potential pitfalls of eCommerce business in the next part of this eCommerce series.

Part I: Get started with eCommerce

At Pentechs, we create bespoke eCommerce solutions. If you are a startup or an enterprise looking to launch your eCommerce portal to grow your business, feel free to contact us. We can help.  We also automate business processes through our automation platform called FLOW. No coding is required.

Get started with eCommerce

It’s never too late to know about eCommerce

Let us get started

If you are a company or an individual who is planning to sell their products or services online, then read on. This is the first part of a multipart series on eCommerce. In this part, we will cover the basic concepts of Commerce, the different eCommerce models, and have a look at some of the popular eCommerce platforms around the world.

What is eCommerce?

Ecommerce, also referred to as electronic commerce, is the process of selling and buying products or services over the internet. The eCommerce process typically involves sellers who advertise their products or services through virtual shops and buyers who purchase these products or services by paying online. 

Various eCommerce models have evolved over the years based on different buyer and seller groups. These groups may include large business houses (brands), distributors, retailers, suppliers, smaller businesses, or individuals. Let us have a look at some of the popular eCommerce models that are currently available. 

Business to Customer (B2C) – B2C eCommerce is the most popular eCommerce model where the sale happens between a business and a consumer. A typical example is that of a consumer buying a garment or mobile phone online from a retailer. Several eCommerce marketplaces facilitate the B2C eCommerce model. As a seller, it is easy to register your business with these marketplaces and start selling products or services quickly. Some B2C marketplaces can be generic, and facilitate the sale of all kinds of products. Examples of such marketplaces include Amazon, Alibaba, or Flipkart. We also find B2C marketplaces that cater to a particular industry segment, for instance, food and beverage, or travel.

Business to Business (B2B) – B2B eCommerce refers to the online selling of goods and services between different business entities. Business entities may include a manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, or supplier. For instance, a manufacturer may source raw materials from suppliers. They may also sell finished products downstream to their distributors and retailers. These operations are often automated through bespoke eCommerce platforms that are created by the manufacturers. B2C eCommerce is therefore typically not available for retail consumers. 

Consumer to Consumer (C2C) – C2C eCommerce refers to the sale of products or services between consumers. Typical products may include images, music, videos, paintings, or handicrafts. Services may include carpentry, electrical work, design service, etc. Popular C2C platforms include eBay, Fivver, Quikr, OLX

Direct to Consumer (D2C) – D2C is an eCommerce model where large businesses sell directly to consumers bypassing their traditional supply chain. D2C is the newest model and has become popular only in the past few years. Organizations perceive immense benefits from directly liaising with the consumers. Typical businesses that adopt the D2C model include large garment manufacturers, grocery chains, or even SAAS software companies that sell subscriptions. D2C eCommerce model started as a low-cost supplementary sales channel for a lot of large businesses but is gaining popularity rapidly. 

Consumer to Business (C2B) – C2B refers to sales of products or services from a consumer to a business. Often consumers can sell their creative work including handicrafts, photographs, digital content, consulting services, design, or software development service to large businesses through C2B portals. Some of the popular C2B portals include Freelancer, Upwork, ImageBazar.

Why should you think about eCommerce too?

We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of eCommerce models in the later parts of this eCommerce series. Let us now have a look at some of the numbers and trends related to the eCommerce industry that will explain why we are excited about the prospects.

The Covid-19 pandemic has albeit temporarily, changed the way we live our lives. To stem the spread of the virus, there are widespread restrictions on free movement or socialising. As a consequence, a visit to the next door grocer may not be as easy as it was earlier. People are locked down in their homes. Manufacturing has been hit because factories cannot be opened for production. Even high-street shops are closing due to low footfalls. People’s buying patterns are changing drastically as everyone is focussing on essential items like food and grocery, rather than good-to-have items like electronic gadgets or garments. More and more people are turning to the internet and online transactions to fulfill their daily needs.

While people’s shopping preferences had been steadily shifting towards digital commerce over the past decade, it has now been accelerated manyfold due to the ongoing restriction on retail shopping. Consequently, the online marketplace has become highly competitive, and businesses are striving for more and more excellence to stay resilient. Here are some of the current eCommerce trends that may interest you. 

Growth of online shopping: Global retail eCommerce sales have grown by 27% during FY 2020. The Americas have seen the highest growth of around 35% while the middle-east has grown by 20%. Online grocery, pharma, and social eCommerce have seen a sharp upsurge.

Worldwide retail eCommerce sales are projected to grow from 2.3 trillion during 2017 to about 6.5 trillion USD by 2023.

One of the key factors that have facilitated the growth of eCommerce is the easy accessibility of the internet and mobile phones across most developing countries. For instance, the internet penetration in India stood at 45% in January 2021 and has grown by 8% (47 million) in the previous year. Over 53% of all internet purchases are through mobile devices.

Shopping preferences: Over 85% of millennials in the US shop online. Home delivery is the preferred option for most online customers. Half of the customers are buying products online that they have not purchased before. Half of the customers would pay more the have a better online shopping experience. 

Global trends: China is the world’s leader in eCommerce at approx USD 700 billion while the USA is the second-largest market at USD 350 billion. Ecommerce penetration in Singapore is over 80%. India’s eCommerce market is set to grow to USD 200 billion by 2026.

What can you sell through eCommerce?

The sales paradigm is changing rapidly and businesses are fearful of being left behind in the race to capture market share. Ecommerce has become a critical tool that will help sustain and grow your business in the next decade. Most businesses are scrambling to establish a digital presence. 

The first step towards a successful eCommerce business is to have a sellable product or service. However, the success of an eCommerce portal requires careful planning and execution of the online strategy. We will review this in more detail in later parts of this series. 

The next step is the figure out the eCommerce model perfectly suits your needs. If you are a business owner that manufactures some commodity, you can directly reach out to your consumers by launching a D2C portal. If you are a distributor you can use a B2C portal and also take advantage of dropshipping, so you don’t have to manage an inventory. Individuals can sell digital content, or training service through a C2C portal. 

Some of the popular global eCommerce platforms

The past decade has seen a phenomenal rise in eCommerce platforms around the world. Some of the biggest global platforms including Alibaba, Amazon cater to the B2C space. 

We have seen business brands launch successful eCommerce channels to supplement their brick-and-mortar retail channels. Walmart has grown steadily in the D2C space. Some large D2C eCommerce portals like BigBasket do not even have retail outlets. 

eCommerce portals like Freelancers, Upwork, and ImageBazar have helped millions of individuals sell their services and products to larger businesses in the C2B space. 

Fivver, Quikr, Olx, or eBay play a vital role in the C2C space where customers can easily buy products or services from other individuals.

Advantages of an eCommerce portal to a business

Some of the big benefits of eCommerce for a business include lower cost of sales, greater reach, personalised attention to customers, and availability of customer data. We will look into the benefits and drawbacks of an eCommerce business in more detail in the next part.

Part II: Advantages of eCommerce for your business

At Pentechs, we create bespoke eCommerce solutions. If you are a startup or an enterprise looking to launch your eCommerce portal to grow your business, feel free to contact us. We can help.  We also automate business processes through our automation platform called FLOW. No coding is required.