Internet is spreading quickly, and more and more people use internet for various purposes. With this spread, more and more people are now engaging into online business. E-commerce is business carried through the internet.
Businesses use internet to promote and sale their products online to a wider market. The advantages of selling online is that it can take place anywhere and at any time of the day. With various e-commerce solutions, it has become easier to sell online, 24 x 7, without engaging expensive sales staff round the clock.
But before starting an e-commerce store, one must gain some knowledge of online business, its process and major open source ecommerce shopping cart solutions applications.
But before looking into that, let’s first look at what is e-commerce?
What is e-Commerce?
Electronic commerce, commonly known as e-commerce or eCommerce, consists of buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as Internet or computer networks. I would like to add mobile networks too in this list. Because with increasing numbers of smart phones and data services on mobile networks, people are using mobiles to buy products and services online from various websites.
An e-commerce site can be as simple as single page website with phone number and order form that collects customer details. Or it can be fully functional website with dynamic multiple category catalog, with real time payment processing functionality, where customers can purchase goods or receive them as downloads on the spot. People now-a-days sells virtual items such as access to premium content on a website too. But still a large chunk is generated by selling or retailing products online.
With an advancement of internet, amount of trade conducted electronically has grown extraordinarily and is supposed to grow further at a steady pace.
E-Commerce became possible at the birth of current version of Internet in the year 1991. Amazon and eBay are the first internet company to embrace the idea of e-commerce, and since then many others has joined. Nowadays, you can buy anything via internet.
Normally, ecommerce is considered as the sales aspect of e-business. But it is much more than just selling online. There is B2B (Business-to-Business) e-commerce models where one business sells goods to other businesses. And there are B2C (Business-to-Customers) e-commerce models where business sells to its customers. Other varieties include, C2C (Consumer-to-Consumer) where consumers sell to each other, for example through auction sites like ebay. P2P (Peer-to-Peer) is another form of e-commerce that allows users to share resources and files directly. There are other form of e-commerce too, which sells products by auction, or offer group discounts, etc.
Let’s now look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of e-commerce.
Advantages of e-Commerce
- Time saving: eCommerce saves time of sellers as well as buyers. From sellers perspective, you don’t need to be present always, because your site sells for you to any number of visitors by presenting information, comparisons, pictures, video on your e-Commerce website. And buyers can buy at any time from home or work from the ease of their computer or mobile phones.
- Wider range of products: As a seller, you can offer wider range of products to your buyers where your customers can browse, compare, read or write a review or buy one. Unlike, retail shop, it’s not always necessary to have product in your inventory, you can sell it first, and then procure it to deliver to your buyers. Moreover, your buyers can browse your online catalog themselves or search to find what they are looking for.
- Allows small businesses to do big business online: Starting e-commerce shopping cart portal costs much less relatively to opening a new retail shop physically. A new business can start and do a big business online with small cost.
- Opens new channel or market: It’s like opening a new shop that is accessible to all a worldwide international market. You can easily build multi-lingual and multi-currency e-commerce shopping cart that can sell across geographies, in newer market where you do not have access otherwise.
- Its Open – 24X7: With ecommerce shopping cart website, your business sells even when you play, sleep or vacation. It stays open for every day of the week, every week of the year. Your ecommerce website is your receptionist, greeter and the sales people and can serve your online shop visitors 24X7 without complain.
- Reach quickly to the World Wide Market: With ecommerce shopping cart website, you can reach to the world wide market. Advertise on Internet using SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing) or SMM (Social Media Marketing) and you can reach out to the potential customers all over the world quickly at small cost.
- Real Time Payment: With ecommerce shopping cart website, buyers can pay online securely in real time, and sellers can receive money in real time using online payment gateways.
Disadvantages of e-Commerce
- Delivery time lag: eCommerce saves time, but unlike traditional business, there is a delivery time lag between order and delivery. Of course, there are several products or services which can be delivered online, just like a software, music, movie or e-book, but some products just cannot be delivered online instantly. For such product, there will be a delivery time lag which is annoying for buyers.
- Unable to feel the physical product: It’s nearly impossible to feel the Playstation or X-Box online, until you goes into store and play it there. Just like this, it is impossible to feel things like furniture online. Furniture is something people like to sit on it and feel it themselves. It’s a challenge that eCommerce cannot fulfil.
- It takes time to make a big: Although starting an online ecommerce shop is easy and less costly, it takes time to make it big. It requires at-least few months to get recognized by search engines and few more months until you start making money to cover costs.
- Security Concerns: People are not still very much confident about using their credit card online. This might stops them to buy online from your store. Make sure your ecommerce portal have other payment methods too.
- Lack of Expertise and Technology knowledge: We have seen numbers of ecommerce sites coming online each day, but only few of them are able to make it big. It’s because of lack of technology knowledge and expertise in running the online store. Moreover, legal environment in which e-commerce is conducted is full of unclear and conflicting laws. However, with hiring the right ecommerce development and internet marketing company, you can overcome this.
- Lack of Knowledge on how to operate & manage e-commerce store: Apart of technology knowhow, there is a lack of knowledge on how to operate ecommerce site profitably. Because of its online nature, its management do also differ. You have best product at cheapest price, but still you might not make a sale. It may be because of several other things that needs to be considered and tweaked accordingly to increase a sale.
With this discussion, let us now conclude this article. But note that this is just a first part of Beginners Guide to e-Commerce Solution, there will be more expert information on this topic very soon.
In the next few article, you will find:
- What is Shopping Cart? Why do I need it? With Several promising opensource Shopping Cart applications
- Things to consider while starting an e-Commerce business
- Effective tips for e-Commerce store
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