Electronic commerce, or e-commerce, is the buying and selling of products and services using electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks. Among e-commerce’s success stories is Amazon.com which was launched in 1995 as an online bookseller. Despite the dot-com bust five years after its launch, Amazon.com survived and has now grown to become a commercial juggernaut with a diversified portfolio of offerings including movies, music, software, video games, electronic gadgets, clothes, furniture, food, toys, and jewelry.
Other would-be online retailers are following suit, having learned their lessons from the dot-com bust, but still bullish about entering the field. If you are thinking of venturing into e-commerce, here are the ways you can benefit from it:
No longer being limited by geography and time
Brick-and-mortar retailers have a mantra: location, location, location. A physical store is limited by the geographical area it can serve. If it was set up in an area little demand for its goods, or where the consumers have little capacity to pay, it will soon find itself folding up. An online store, however, is not limited to geography. It can serve anyone from practically anywhere at any time, provided the payment and fulfillment systems can accommodate the transaction. Furthermore, building a customer base is easier for an online store. With a good online marketing campaign which includes search engine visibility, it can gain new customers who may never have heard of his store before. Also, satisfied customers can do a lot to promote the store and its goods by mentioning it in their social networks or giving good product reviews.
For the customer, hassles involved here and there just to catch the store’s open hours are eliminated. With a few mouse clicks, he can log in to the online store, drag items to his virtual shopping cart, check out and pay for his items, without leaving his seat no matter the time.
Relatively lower operating costs leading to savings for the customer
A brick-and-mortar retailer will incur expenses on rent, utilities and staffing. Online stores are not similarly hindered by such costs. Without a physical store, rent and electricity will no longer be concern. Problems on maintaining adequate staff to stock the shelves, clean the aisles or man the check-out counters will no longer apply. Storage concerns may be lessened as items ordered may be shipped directly to the customer from the warehouse. All of these cost savings may then be passed on the customer in the form of lower prices.
Sales data is automatically tracked
As all transactions are done electronically, records-keeping and extraction are quite easy. Most e-commerce systems can provide the store owner with information on which product variant sells well, which credit card is being used by most of his customers, which products are placed in the carts but are later abandoned. These data may later on prove useful when the store owner is devising promo offers to drive more sales.
E-commerce has been around for quite some time and while some flaws may still be present in the system, many retailers can benefit from the convenience and the myriad of opportunities that it affords.
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