Buyers have made it clear: they would rather make a purchase online than wander through aisles of merchandise or speak with order takers. Businesses have seen these online buying trends and, as a result, many are joining the eCommerce marketplace – from local grocers to multinational wholesalers.
Initially driven by consumer demands, eCommerce has gained steady momentum across many different industries as technology and buyer needs have evolved, in part, by:
- The prevalence of mobile devices
- The opportunity to research and compare products online
- The ability to make extensive product catalogs readily available to buyers
- The need for quicker, streamlined buying processes
While the business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) channels have made great advancements with eCommerce, there are other business models benefiting from digital commerce as well. The consumer-to-business (C2B) marketplace allows individuals such as freelance writers, developers, and consultants to sell their services to businesses using online transactions. Consumers are also selling directly to other consumers (C2C) via sites like eBay, and even the government (G2C) has incorporated eCommerce into their offerings by providing a portal for citizens to pay their taxes, register vehicles, and more.
In addition to a growing number of eCommerce models, there is also a variety of strategies available for these models to generate revenue, making it possible for nearly everyone to buy and sell online:
- Brick-and-click: Brick-and-mortar stores like Wal-Mart and Lowe’s combine the convenience of online shopping with in-store shopping to provide an omnichannel experience
- Purely online: Companies whose business is completely online – like Wayfair.com and TruPar.com – don’t drive sales purely by price; they provide top-notch customer service and an exceptional user experience
- Marketplace: Big-time retailers like Amazon sell their own products, as well as those by other vendors, to create a comprehensive catalog of products and a one-stop-shop for buyers
- Auction: DealDash and UBid are just a couple of the many auction sites that allow buyers to place online bids and compete for products
- Bargaining: Converse to an auction, bargaining sites such as Priceline have buyers set an amount they are willing to pay for a product or service and then allow different sellers to compete to make the best offer
As technology advances and expectations change, so, too, does eCommerce. Successful businesses keep their finger on the pulse of the market – and their customers – so they can continue to evolve their online offerings and stay relevant. Consider a player like Amazon, which has continued to adapt in order to meet customer needs and maintain a competitive advantage. With humble beginnings as a purely online bookstore, they evolved to become a marketplace contender by expanding their consumer product offerings, then entered into the B2B space by launching Amazon Business, and have recently opened their first cashier-less grocery store to the public.
If you’re contemplating eCommerce as a sales channel, choose the right business model and strategy that complements your product offerings and services before you start your journey. Then, keep your ear to the ground and continue to adapt your site to keep visitors coming back.