Ecommerce – the exchange of goods and services online – is big business. Since the first online transactions more than 30 years ago, the internet has forever changed the relationship between buyer and seller. Businesses can quickly reach a global audience without the costs associated with operating multiple physical locations. Customer have more buying options than ever before and enjoy the convenience of products delivered directly to their home.
While large online retailers or mega platforms like Amazon have dominated the conversation, ecommerce still accounts for only about 10% of total retail sales on average1. This means there are still abundant opportunities for smaller businesses to sell specialized goods and services online. In particular, small and mid-sized businesses have the opportunity to differentiate from big box online retailers by providing specialized products and a level of customer service the large and impersonal retailers can’t match.
- Business-to-Consumer. B2C is the most common and traditional retail model. The business sells to individual customers, but the business is conducted online versus in a physical store.
- Business-to-Business. B2B the online commerce between companies. For example, a manufacturer selling a product to a wholesaler, a wholesaler selling a product to the retailer.
- Consumer-to-Business. C2B ecommerce occurs where a consumer or end-user provides a product or service to an organization.
- Consumer-to-Consumer. C2C is a transaction between two consumers. An example would be an online auction – a customer or visitor posts an item for sale and other customer bids to purchase it.
You’ve likely experienced ecommerce yourself by placing an online order with a retailer and receiving your order in the mail, but ecommerce can take many different forms. Whether you’re new to ecommerce or already have some sort of online presence there may be some opportunities for expanding online you haven’t considered.
Online Retail. This is the most common form of ecommerce transaction today. The customer initiating a purchase online that will be delivered directly to their home or business. Brick and mortar stores can expand their customer base by offering their products online.
Subscription ecommerce. Automatic scheduled delivery of products and services is increasing. Businesses offer to deliver everything from laundry detergent to groceries on a schedule. This is convenient for the consumer and helps the business more accurately forecast demand and revenue.
Restaurant Online Ordering. Online ordering expedites operations and increases options. Customers can order ahead without waiting on hold and restaurants can take multiple orders at a time.
Billing/Invoicing. Contractors such as electricians and landscaping services can collect payments from customers online. This improves cash flow and reduces the time spent collecting payments.
In-App. Businesses can create apps to support their customers. While the functionality will vary widely, many apps allow customers to complete orders, pay bills, and manage their account from their phone.
B2B. Companies that sell to other businesses are offering online transactions. This improves efficiency and transparency for both businesses.
Because every business is different – and because ecommerce comprises a wide variety of activities, platforms and tools, as well as the data to support them – it can be difficult to determine how to expand your business online.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or trying to expand an existing online presence, we’re here to help find the right solution. Your Elavon account representative can help advise you on specific ecommerce services that complement and enhance your existing payment processing set-up.