A better question than ‘what is e-commerce’ might be, what isn’t e-commerce? Whenever you buy or sell products online, whether it’s a Tesco grocery delivery, clothes, or Amazon, you’re involved with e-commerce. To put this in context, e-commerce sales are expected to total above $27 trillion (that’s $27,000,000,000,000) in 2020.

E-commerce, sometimes written ecommerce, can be defined as:

‘Commercial transactions conducted electronically on the Internet.’

There are fewer and fewer businesses that are commerce, without the ‘E’. Primark, for example, is a major high street brand that doesn’t have an online shop. But even small ‘mom and pop’ shops are increasingly online. In fact, many ‘mom and pop’ businesses are now only online. An optimised, effective, and nationally (or even internationally) accessible e-commerce website will typically cost a fraction of the high street lease and rates you would have to pay as a brick-and-mortar location. So no wonder it’s an increasingly popular choice for startups.

Related relating: How much does a website cost?

E-Commerce is Multi-Channel and Omnichannel

Omnichannel marketing isn’t just for the megabrands. Small businesses can, and should, take advantage of the tools and tech available to make their multi-channel marketing as seamless and effective as possible. In practice, omnichannel marketing means making your various channels work together, rather than separately.

For example, your e-commerce site and physical stores should carry the same products, at the same prices. Same for your app. Offer customers the option to create an account, a way for them to track ALL of their purchases (such as giving their email address when they buy). This way they can easily see their buying history and get relevant recommendations whether they’re in the app, online, or in store. Click-and-collect is another example of a smooth transition between channels. Make sense?

Learn more about what omnichannel marketing means for business.

Your Online Strategy Is Your Business Strategy

From a marketing perspective, what is e-commerce in practice? A new e-commerce business has to embrace its online strategy as its overall strategy. No digital differentiation required. Established businesses can find this a difficult transition. The best tactic can be to think like a startup again: think of a new strategy from the digital perspective first, rather than fitting it around your brick-and-mortar location.

Overall, e-commerce is an increasingly large proportion of all retail sales. There is still a place for the high street. But savvy brick-and-mortar businesses will be great at both.

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Anna Simmonds
Anna Simmonds

Anna, Head of Social, knows her beans when it comes to social media. She keeps her finger on the social pulse, funnelling her knowledge and experience into creating engaging social media campaigns. She’s also pretty decent with a camera and Photoshop.