E-commerce is a general term for any business which involves the retailing of goods either over the Internet or electronically. Although e-commerce can refer to any type of retailing, most of the leading companies engaged in e-commerce are those who deal in primarily physical merchandise. E-commerce has grown in importance over the years, taking the place of physical brick and mortar stores as one of the most effective methods of marketing goods and services around the world.
There are many benefits to electronic commerce over traditional methods. For instance, because consumers conduct their shopping through a website, a company does not have to worry about customer service issues, salesmen, inventory, packaging, shipping, returns, etc. An e-commerce merchant only needs to worry about paying for the goods it sells, keeping track of inventory, and handling payments. Because the transactions can be conducted electronically, it is easy for a company to keep its overhead costs minimal while attracting more consumers to its web site. This allows a company to charge a lower price for its goods and services than a brick-and-mortar store could, while maintaining a high profit margin.
Another benefit of e-commerce for small businesses is that consumers can shop from the comfort of their own home. They do not have to go out into the cold to find what they need. The convenience of purchasing goods at the click of a mouse allows consumers to sit in the comfort of their living room and look at their favorite clothes without having to leave home. Online shopping is also extremely convenient for consumers who are too busy to drive all over town to visit a retailer.
With e-commerce, there is no need for a retailer to worry about inventory, returns, or late shipments. Since everything is electronic commerce, it is extremely easy for the buyer to make his or her payment and for the seller to get his or her goods back in front of the customer once the transaction has been made. This ease of mind for online sales makes it very popular among many different types of consumers. It can even become more popular as time goes by since people tend to buy things more frequently than they used to.
Another great thing about e-commerce for small businesses is that it helps create a bridge between the traditional customer and the modern consumer. In other words, e-commerce gives the retailer a platform to reach out to the consumer. Many times when consumers go to a brick-and-mortar store they are required to talk to an actual human being to be able to interact with them. E-commerce allows a retailer to reach out to a potential customer via a social media website. When a retailer can have their website address placed on a social media page such as Facebook or Twitter a consumer will see the website when they log in to that particular social media site.
There are even companies that specialize in helping small business owners create an e-commerce website. With so much information on the Internet about almost everything that can be done e-commerce sites are making it easier than ever before to create a profitable business. An e-commerce website can help a business-to-business company advertise. Advertising has always been important but now that social media is taking the place of traditional advertising, it has become even more important.
E-commerce is not the end-all, be-all of marketing. While the ability to reach millions of people via a website is a benefit e-commerce also requires the ability to convert those consumers into buyers. Many times, a retailer will set up a form on a website and if a potential customer responds to that form then the retailer can contact that person. If that person makes a purchase then the company owes the retailer money. B2b e-commerce refers to the process of selling and buying through two different websites.
The rise of e-commerce also means that the possibility for online sales has increased dramatically. On any given day millions of people log on to the Internet looking for something in particular. E-commerce offers consumers the chance to do just that; sell to those people. For the retailer this opens up opportunities to increase their online sales and for buyers the opportunity to access goods and services in other countries all over the world.