The ABCs of Ecommerce: Understanding the Basics

January 20, 2017

Thinking of how popular online shopping has become, it’s hard to imagine why all retailers and businesses are not taking advantage of ecommerce solutions. But, when you start to take a deeper look behind the scenes – working with different suppliers, undergoing integrations with multiple ERP systems, and an ever-growing variety of device consumption, things can get complicated fast. All of a sudden, the idea of developing an ecommerce platform may seem about as complicated as brain surgery.

But does it have to be?

In this post, we’ll look at the basics of ecommerce and examine its origins, significance today, and what it means for the future.

Ecommerce: What Is It?

  • Ecommerce is a broad term used to define the process of buying and selling products and services electronically.
  • It can be broken down into four main categories: business to business (B2B), business to consumer (B2C), consumer to business (C2B), and consumer to consumer (C2C).
  • Ecommerce products can be physically delivered, or consumed online (digital ecommerce); for example, purchasing an e-book and downloading it online.
  • While desktop has been the primary ecommerce platform to date, now more than ever we’re seeing a rise in mobile ecommerce.

Ecommerce: Back to the Basics

It’s hard to imagine our lives without ecommerce. While modern ecommerce technology has only been around for the past few decades, the concept was originally pioneered in 1979 when inventor Michael Aldrich invented ‘teleshopping’ by connecting his television line to a real-time transaction processing computer.

Throughout the 90s, as PCs and the Internet became omnipresent household items, key players within the ecommerce industry started to emerge. In the mid 90s, Jeff Bezos founded the online bookstore, Amazon, which is now one of the most popular online stores today. Companies like Ebay, Google, Yahoo and Paypal also emerged in the nineties, becoming trailblazers in digital commerce.

Now over two decades old, ecommerce has evolved into a billion-dollar industry and revolutionized the way we consume products and services. While B2B players have been slower to adopt ecommerce technology, they’re now taking off and the demand for B2B ecommerce services is snowballing. B2B buyers now expect their online purchasing encounters to mimic the experiences they’re familiar with as consumers, demanding highly personalized, efficient and user-friendly experiences.

It’s safe to say that ecommerce has made a huge impact in a relatively short amount of time.

Who uses Ecommerce?

B2B Companies
Now that B2B companies are taking a seat at the ecommerce table, they need to play catch-up to their B2C counterparts – quick. After consulting with B2B ecommerce service providers; Sonny’s The CarWash Factory, GE and BASF brought their online sites up-to-date and created personalized experiences for their customers. As a result, these businesses increased sales, delivering a more streamlined ecommerce experience to their customers designed to drive conversions.

B2C Companies
Fast-growing companies like Bonobos, Design Within Reach, and FreshDirect, who need to scale online efforts and focus on staying ahead of competitors and consumer expectations.

A better question might be, ‘Who doesn’t use ecommerce these days?’ Nearly everyone is a digital consumer, using online banking or choosing online retail over brick-and-mortar. There are endless opportunities for consumers to use ecommerce technology, and it’s prized as being a time-effective, efficient, and simple experience.

What’s Next for Ecommerce?

As we approach 2018, there will only continue to be an increased appetite for B2B ecommerce software and platforms from B2B buyers. Both consumers and purchasers are using their smartphones to make purchasing decisions, increasing the demand for mobile ecommerce solutions.
An ever-increased focus on self-serve experiences. Today, B2B buyers research and make purchases on their own, without the help of the seller. Focusing on improving self-service capabilities is cost-effective for sellers, allowing the business to free up resources and invest in innovation.

Does your business need advice or an ecommerce solution, or are you curious to learn more about ecommerce? Connect with authorities in this space.

Take the guesswork out of B2B benchmarking.

Get a pulse on the effectiveness of your B2B customer experience. Zaelab offers a complimentary benchmarking service to evaluate your B2B digital experience against direct and industry competitors.

Speak with an Expert
Join Zaelab’s newsletter for updates on industry trends, news, and best practices.

Related Insights

Join Zaelab’s newsletter for updates on industry trends, news, and best practices.