eCommerce is a term you have probably come across at least a dozen times so far. If you are even remotely interested in the topic of online trade, if you browse online content of any kind, or even reading the local news, you must have. But, even if you didn’t, there’s a high chance you’ve used one of the services it provides without necessarily knowing it was eCommerce in the first place.

It’s one of those new terms that everyone recognizes without knowing its true meaning and scope. The vast majority of people associate eCommerce with online trade, which is perfectly understandable and equally valid. Still, the term encompasses much more than buying and selling online. 

This article will give you a short, but concise overview of the vast topic eCommerce genuinely is and the extensive presence and influence it has on our everyday and business lives. Then, once at home with those, you’ll get a detailed list of what’s needed to build a successful eCommerce business of your own. 

eCommerce in a nutshell

eCommerce is easily defined: it’s a process of buying and selling online. An activity most people worldwide are perfectly accustomed to and use every day. And, at such scale that online trade has already reached 20 percent of all sales.

Naturally, this didn’t happen overnight, but it came to be lightning-fast when you consider that trade of various kinds goes back to the dawn of time. The first online purchase occurred in 1994, and since then, things will never be the same.

Why is this a fact and not one of those bold statements often found in a blog related to online trade? Quite simply, because the world we know and live in today could not function without eCommerce. How come?

As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, eCommerce is much more than online buying and selling, even though those are a huge part of its utilization and by far most associated with. It also includes these transactions and services:

  • business to consumer-B2C
  • business to business-B2B
  • consumer to business-C2B
  • consumer to consumer-C2C
  • direct to consumer-D2C
  • dropshipping
  • subscription service
  • internet banking
  • online ticketing

And the list goes on and expands daily. Given the scope of products and services it involves, eCommerce is an inseparable part of everyday activities for a considerable part of the world’s population, either from an occupational or user perspective. Or both, for that matter.

Alibaba, Amazon, eBay, Shopify, and Rakuten are some of the leading names in the world of eCommerce, followed by millions of others. Their services are used by millions and made possible by hundreds of thousands of employees. You can practically pick any term from a digital marketing glossary, and there’ll be an expert in the field working on a related task in eCommerce as we speak.    

Is now a good time to start an eCommerce business?

There was a trendy blog back in 2012 dealing with the topic of whether business owners should venture into eCommerce. After comparing the pros and cons, the answer was positive. In 2014, there was another one with the same title and an even clearer yes. 2018, almost no cons, just pros, confirming a strong yes. You see where this is going.

The best time for getting into eCommerce is right now. Regardless of what year it was. Yes, being 2021 means there’s a lot of competition around in all areas of online business. Still, the same goes for brick-and-mortar businesses. With a significant difference predicted. 

The statistics show there has been a steady rise in eCommerce sales since the very beginning. What is more, that trend is forecasted to continue at an even higher pace, thus having an imminent and strong impact on the future of business in general. 

And, this was all before Covid-19 took the world by storm. The pandemic has turned all areas of life upside down. Among others, it had a devastating effect on 99 percent of all brick and mortar stores and a long line of services. So, what has been happening with eCommerce since the pandemic began?

eCommerce during Covid-19

Although the pandemic is far from being over and its effects are still being monitored and calculated, there are several areas where the statistics are clear. One of them certainly is eCommerce, where figures are staggering. Except for businesses related to travel, leisure services, sports, or formal clothing, other eCommerce businesses are growing at a drastic scale.

Given that the pandemic is still ongoing, the official statistics are yet to be published globally. However, the available numbers show the dramatic growth of internet sales. Based on those, it is safe to assume that a similar trend is ongoing in other parts of the world.

Not only does this change the ratio between brick and mortar and online retail, the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to leave a long-term effect on eCommerce in general. That’s because it has already induced a change in consumer behavior. For example, the elderly generation’s participation in online retail worldwide has almost doubled on average, the use of credit cards for online payment is higher than ever before. In contrast, the use of online ordering apps has skyrocketed. 

What do you need to build a successful eCommerce business?

Building a reliable and durable eCommerce business is quite similar to building any business or long-term relationship. The fundamental precondition is being completely honest about what you/your product/ service stand for, whom you are offering it to, and nurturing your communication through all the phases of your interaction. 

To put it strictly in general business terms, you need:

  • a product that is sought after
  • a well-thought-of marketing campaign,
  • identified target group
  • meticulously written business plan, as well as capacity and will to amend it if the turn of events demanded it
  • genuine willingness and to provide and nurture an impeccable user experience from start to finish   

When you take a closer look, these points universally apply to any business. So, what is the major notion that separates the online business from the traditional one? The answer is pretty straightforward, a website.

Now, what type of website would be best for your online business? This time the answer is not so easy, and the proper choice depends on the nature and size of your eCommerce offer. Before going into detail about the types of eCommerce websites, let’s be clear on the prerequisites they all need to meet: flawless functionality, ease of use, user experience focused, and bulletproof safety. These are all features of a well-designed website, one of the fundamental features for the success of your eCommerce. 

eCommerce website options

There are three major eCommerce website options:

1. CMS

Content management system, such as Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress, as the best known in the group, provide business owners direct control over all content present on their website. In addition, CMS websites potentially feature a wide range of functions, themes, and plugins, which enable the creation of an attractive and functional eCommerce website. 

Although managing content on CMS websites is straightforward, it does take time and constant attention. Given this, they are usually a number one choice for those web stores that feature a small number of items and whose expansion and updates can be done quickly. On the other hand, mainly being open source, CMS websites are more prone to security threats.

2. eCommerce platforms

Platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, and Woo Commerce enable business owners to use their space to offer, market and sell their products or services for a monthly fee. They can be SaaS, PaaS, or on-premise platforms. SaaS and PaaS are more suitable for beginners in eCommerce and smaller companies, while the latter is more suitable for experienced and medium businesses. 

Compared to CMS, eCommerce platforms offer better security and relieve business owners of potential server and hosting issues. However, they provide fewer customization options and often become more expensive than hosting an owned website for businesses that offer a large number of products or services.

3. PHP Framework

When it comes to this type of website architecture, the leaders are Codelgniter, Sympfony, and the most popular and used – Laravel. As the group name reveals, all of them are PHP coded. Also, building a website using these frameworks requires going through the entire site development process.

That being said, a developer is needed to build and maintain the website. Although those requirements are sometimes seen as a downside by online business owners, having a website creation and maintenance process trusted into the hands of professionals can only bring benefits in the long run. 

That is one of the main reasons large eCommerce businesses opt for a PHP framework. Other benefits are endless scalability, a high level of security, customization, and flexibility. Finally, when regular updates are performed, they do not jeopardize the website’s stability, which is not always the case with CMS and eCommerce platforms.

Hopefully, now you have a better idea of what eCommerce is and what it takes to get your online business presence up and running. So, brush up the existing fresh ideas, and use all your business knowledge and energy to include all the fundamental elements needed to start an eCommerce business. And be prepared to succeed.
We will be happy to support you on that journey and make our extensive experience in this field available to you – contact us!