The Benefits of an E-commerce Business

Covid-19 has had a significant effect on the business world. Whilst it has caused many changes, some temporary and others potentially permanent, its main effect seems to have been as a catalyst. There are many trends in business which were present before Covid but have subsequently accelerated due to the pandemic. One such trend is that of e-commerce, which has been growing in popularity for many years but has had a major boost since Covid. In fact, research from IBM has found that this shift from physical stores to e-commerce has jumped ahead 5 years, due to the effects of the pandemic

Of course, brick and mortar business isn’t going anywhere but it’s clear to see that online sales are only going to continue growing in popularity. With this in mind, what are the benefits of e-commerce and how can companies take advantage of this trend?

What is e-commerce?

E-commerce or electronic commerce is the selling of goods and/or services on the internet. However, there are different types of e-commerce. What most people think of first is B2C or business to consumer, which is what most of us experience when shopping online. There are other types of online shopping, including business to business (B2B), consumer to business (C2B) and consumer to consumer (C2C). One of the newest and fastest growing forms of e-commerce is direct to consumer or D2C. This is a direct relationship between you and the consumer, without utilising any retailers or distributers. Examples of this include subscription services or social media sales, e.g., Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat stores.

Whatever category you and your business fall under, there is potential to benefit from e-commerce, particularly at this moment in time when online shopping is at an all-time high.

Benefits

One of the main benefits of e-commerce is that it reduces geographical boundaries. Businesses can interact with consumers across the globe, greatly increasing their range and the likelihood of finding the ideal customer. Casting a wider net also allows businesses to sell to more people, increasing revenue and therefore profit. Talking of an ideal customer, analytics and data collected from online sales and interactions can be incredibly valuable in informing your business and its future.

Another benefit that can be particularly useful for newer companies is cost effectiveness. Building a business from scratch and investing in property, whether that be renting or owning, can be extremely expensive. However, if instead you choose to start an e-commerce business and sell only online, this can drastically reduce costs. This also allows business owners to work from home, which is convenient and saves even more money. This may be a temporary steppingstone for some companies or a long-term solution.

By its nature, the internet is convenient, accessible and unbound by the restrictions of working hours and location. Therefore, businesses can run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ensuring they never miss out on sales. Again, this contrasts with physical shops, which are limited by their opening hours.

Drawbacks

There are many benefits to e-commerce but there are also drawbacks which should be considered. Particularly for those who rely on the internet as their only point of sale. The main drawback is that you lose out on the unique experience of selling within a physical premises. This allows customers to talk with employees, build relationships and offer a full retail experience, as opposed to just a digital sale.

On the larger scale, this shift to e-commerce could have a damaging effect to the economy, particularly that of the high street. Whilst this may be a natural progression of our current approach to sales, it will have casualties along the way. It could also lead to large, super-companies having a monopoly in different industries.

E-commerce is only going to become more important in the future and it’s therefore likely that businesses will have to embrace it, sooner rather than later. Why not embrace it now and ensure you’re ready for the future.

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