The world of ecommerce is a big one.
Before the Internet, buying products was simple. If it could not be mail ordered through a magazine or purchased in the local shop, it would not be bought. Most shops would have an order-in service, however that would often take weeks (if not months) from initial order to physically receiving the goods. Naturally enough, this was not ideal but it was the best that could be done in the short term. It was like that until the birth of the Internet, and then everything changed.
With the Internet came a new era of shopping, putting convenience to the top of the list for people who liked to order their products from all over the world. Sites like Amazon opened up, providing a new kind of shopping experience, placing the product at the fingertips of the customer in such a way that shopping no longer became focused on the out of house experience. Instead it came from a place of convenient purchases, just getting shopping done. Why should those who do not like shopping be forced to go shopping in towns and cities, when they could just get what they wanted at the simple click of a mouse?
This experience, this convenience, is the core concept behind online shopping. Shopping via the World Wide Web allows for customers to know about products they would not normally know about. It allows for whole new experiences focused on the product rather than the shop. This saves money by reducing the overhead and allows customers to get a product sent directly to their hands. It allows for a liberation from the traditional forms of shopping – liberations from queues, from time wasted trying to find something in a shop, liberation from changing rooms and cashiers. It offers a whole new form of freedom.
So what is Ecommerce?
On that note ecommerce can be seen as one of two things. The first is obvious – it is an online shopping experience.
The second way to see ecommerce is as a technological movement. It is a form of freedom from the tediousness of everyday tasks, in this case shopping, to create a far more enjoyable experience for some.
What is ecommerce? Ecommerce is interesting. Ecommerce is practical. Ecommerce is enjoyable. Ecommerce is a way of giving the customer autonomy to purchase their goods in a new medium, a new way of enjoying them. It promotes a freedom, originally introduced by the mail order catalogues of old, that has evolved into something truly special.
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How does Ecommerce benefit Businesses?
How ecommerce benefits businesses can be seen in the form of statistics. According to one source, online sales currently account for 13% of the UK economy. In the US the ecommerce sector is currently worth $1.5trillion and growing at 20% each year. Now 80% of the internet using public admit to making purchases online, and 40% admit to making more than one purchase.
These statistics are phenomenal and worth taking note of. Whether companies like it or not the world is definitely turning digital. There is no way to avoid it. Ecommerce is a big thing and it is only getting bigger.
What this means is that businesses use a completely different way of selling to customers based on their own browsing habits. For physical stores this means that customers have the choice to purchase from the store themselves or to purchase online and avoid the store entirely. This autonomy can be seen as a freeing force for the customer, making online stores popular.
Back in the early noughties it was estimated that by 2015 the high street store would be made redundant. The simple truth is that although Moore’s Law does exist, we as a species often overestimate the rate of technological development that we are physically capable of. Instead of an either/or situation, there is a synergy that exists between the online and offline shopping experiences. Instead of high street shops being wiped out, they offer a different kind of experience than that of the online world. They offer a kind of experience parallel to that of ecommerce, catering to a different kind of person.
One thing that is important to note about ecommerce is how it allows for a perceived appearance of anonymous shopping. Someone who may feel embarrassed about purchasing something in a store for any reason can purchase it online with ease. This makes the shopper feel more comfortable about making a purchase from the comfort of their own home.
Ecommerce has become more and more popular as time has gone on. With the US reporting a 20% growth each year it is easy to see why more and more companies are rooting for an online shopping experience. Not only does online shopping potentially reach more customers, but also it is a relatively cheap way of selling to a wider audience. There are few overheads for having an ecommerce section to a site, bar technological retained fees. These tend to be a tiny fraction of the potential profit, and so make an ecommerce site worth it for a large percentage of companies.
The world has got to the stage where it expects a retail company to have an ecommerce site. Customers want to be able to buy a product online, approaching their favourite stores to get their hands on much wanted goods. This is something the world has got used to.
There is no doubt about it, online sales have detracted sales from the high street. Stores have suffered, but they do continue on; however, those who have made the best transition are those who also had an ecommerce presence. Taking examples there are a plethora of DVD and book stores that have gone out of business due to online stores (and convenient deals) taking pride of place over them.
According to one study the estimated growth of ecommerce in the UK for 2015 will be 16.2%. According to another source the online world now accounts for up to 8% of the total purchases made in the UK. These are fantastic figures, and figures easily taken advantage of by interested retailers. Any shop can have a fantastic ecommerce site.
The fact that ecommerce is growing, added onto the idea that it is a whole new and successful way of presenting products to clients, means that ecommerce is not something that is easily ignored or avoided. The world is going digital. Are you ready for the change?
The First Step
The first step towards having a fantastic ecommerce experience is to determine if there is a need for ecommerce and if there will be a return on investment. If, as a company, you specialise mainly in retail of commercial goods then the instant answer is that an ecommerce website would almost certainly deliver an ROI for you and your business.
The step after that is to find a good team who can create the website and who, ideally, suggest their ecommerce platform of choice. Ecommerce can be complicated and it makes sense to go with a team who know it inside out.
Finally, work closely with that team to get the best possible outcome for your site. Ensure you are tightly knit, as the ecommerce world can change rapidly. It is important to ensure that they are on the ball, and stay up to speed with the best possible solutions to any situation that may arise.