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What is Ecommerce?

Before we get into the nuance of the e-commerce industry, let’s first answer one basic question:

What is Ecommerce?

  • Ecommerce refers to commercial transactions conducted online. This means that whenever you buy and sell something online, you are involved in e-commerce.

It was August 11, and the year 1994. At about noon that day, Phil Brandenberger of Philadelphia entered his computer and used his credit card to buy Sting’s “Ten Callers” for $ 12.48 plus shipping.

That story may not sound too exciting today, but at that time, that particular transaction became history. Why? Because this is the first time encryption technology has been used to make purchases on the Internet. That moment is considered by many to be the first “true” ecommerce transaction.

Needless to say, ecommerce has grown by leaps and bounds ever since. BigCommerce states that ecommerce is growing at 23% year over year, according to at Markerter, global e-commerce sales are projected to reach $ 27 trillion by 2020 – just statistics for the retail sector.

Lots of growth (and money!), Which is why, if you are interested in doing business online, you need to know the introductions and additions from the e-commerce industry.

And this is exactly what this guide is for. In this field, we thoroughly look at the e-commerce industry – how it came about, what types of merchants are out there, and what platforms are driving online sales. We also shed some light on notable ecommerce success stories and flops to give you a better idea of ​​what it takes to succeed in this industry.

Either someone wants to run an ecommerce site or already runs an online store and just wants to learn more about the industry, finding a lot of nuggets in their guide.

Dive down or skip a specific section:

– What is e-commerce?
– Types of Ecommerce Merchants
– Classify ecommerce merchants by sales
– Ecommerce classification by parties involved
– Ecommerce platforms: look at where and how ecommerce is going
– Ecommerce Examples: Success stories and floss

Types of Ecommerce Merchants

There are many ways to classify ecommerce sites. You can categorize them by the products or services they sell, the parties they transact with, or even the platforms they work on.

In this guide, we covered all three aspects to give you a clear picture of what types of ecommerce sites exist.

Classify ecommerce merchants by sales

Get started with products and services commonly sold online. Below is a list of ecommerce retailers by what they sell.

1. Stores that sell physical goods

These are typical online marketers. They may include clothing, home goods and souvenir shops, just a few. Stores selling physical goods bring items online and allow shoppers to add items they like to their virtual carts. Once a transaction is complete, the store usually delivers to the buyer, though a growing number of merchants are pursuing such initiatives as taking the merchandise into the store.

Some examples of these e-commerce stores include the eyewear retailer Warby Parker, men’s clothing store bonobo, and a shoe salesman Zappos.

2. Email based services

Services can also be bought and sold online. Internet consultants, educators, and freelancers are usually ecommerce providers.

The procedure for purchasing services depends on the merchant. Some may allow you to purchase their services immediately from their website or platform. An example of this is coming, the free products market. People who want to buy services from Fiverr must place an order on the site before the seller delivers their services.

Some service providers, on the other hand, require that you first contact them (i.e., book a consultation) to determine your needs. Web design company Blue fountain one example is a company that does this.

3. Digital products

E-commerce is inherently highly digital, so shocking that many merchants sell “e-goods” online. Common types of digital products include e-books, online courses, software, graphics and virtual goods.

Examples of retailers selling digital products are Shutterstock (a site that sells stock photos), Udemy (an online course platform), and Slack (a company that provides real-time messaging, archiving and search teams).

Ecommerce classification by parties involved

Another effective way to classify ecommerce sites? Look at the parties involved in the transaction. They usually include:

1. Consumer Business (B2C) – Transactions take place between business and consumers. In B2C e-commerce, it is companies that sell products or services to end users (i.e., consumers).

Internet retail usually works on a B2C model. Retailers with online stores such as Walmart. Macy, i IKEA are all examples of B2C ecommerce businesses.

2. Business to Business (B2B) – As its name implies, B2B e-commerce refers to transactions conducted between two companies. Any company whose customers are other companies operating on the B2B model.

Examples include Xero, an online accounting software for small businesses, ADP, a payroll company and square, a payment solution for small and medium-sized businesses.

3. Consumer for Business (C2B) – An ecommerce consumer occurs when a consumer sells or contributes monetary value to a business. Many crowdsourcing campaigns belong to C2B ecommerce.

Soma, a company that sells eco-friendly water filters is one example of a B2C ecommerce company. Back in 2012, Soma launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of their product. The project was a success, with Soma raising $ 147,444.

4. Consumer to Consumer (C2C) – As you might have guessed, C2C e-commerce happens when you buy and sell something between two consumers. C2C usually takes place in online markets such as eBay, in which one individual sells a product or service to another.

5. Government to Business (G2B) – G2C transactions occur when a company pays for government services, services or fees online. Examples could be companies that pay for expenses online.

6. Doing business in government (B2M) – When a government entity uses the Internet to purchase goods or services from a business, the transaction may fall into B2G e-commerce. It is said that the city or town is hiring a web design company to update its website. This type of business can be considered a form of B2G.

7. Consumer to government (G2C) – Consumers can also engage in B2C e-commerce. People who pay for traffic tickets or pay for a car registration renewal online can fall into this category.

Ecommerce platforms: A look at where and how ecommerce takes place

We talked about the types of ecommerce transactions on the web as well as products and services sold online. But where and how do these transactions take place?

Answer: varies.

In this section, we shed some light on some of the most common e-commerce platforms.

1. Internet sales sites

Having an online store is one of the easiest ways to run an e-commerce business. The merchant creates a website and uses it to sell products and services using shopping carts and e-commerce solutions. The “right” solution will depend on the retailer and their products. Below is a list of some of the best ecommerce platforms. Take a look at them and see which one is best for you.

Magento – It is considered by many to be one of the most flexible ecommerce solutions on the market, and Magento offers powerful features with no options. It gives merchants the ability to customize just the aspects of ecommerce commerce, and you have complete freedom over the look, feel and functionality of your site.

Magento also has an active community of experts, developers, and agencies that allow marketers to easily connect with others if they need support. And if you need to further extend the functionality of Magento, you can always use plugins to improve the site.

de mandware – This full hosting solution lets you start a powerful cloud ecommerce store. Traders using Demandware have to worry a lot about maintaining and developing the platform as the company fully hosts them (though this may limit your freedom a bit).

One of the advantages of Demandware is that it is built with multifunctional resellers and features features that allow retailers to sell easily through physical and digital sales windows.

Oracle Commerce – This enterprise ecommerce solution can be applied locally or hosted by Oracle or a third party. It has features that can be used by both B2B and B2C marketers, and comes with powerful functionalities that allow you to sell more complex goods and data-rich data.

Oracle Commerce also allows users to easily customize websites and campaigns, giving them the ability to effectively launch websites across multiple brands and markets.

Shopify – Shopify is a popular choice among many small and medium-sized businesses that have features that allow them to sell online, on social networks, and in person. Allows marketers to build and customize ecommerce pages through easy-to-use interfaces and templates. And it has features like inventory management, reporting, buy buttons and more. It also has social sales functionality for those active on websites such as Facebook and Pinterest.

Shopify is fully hosted, meaning merchants need to worry about maintaining the platform or using their servers.

commerce – WooCommerce is an open source e-commerce platform for WordPress. It comes with standard features such as analytics and reporting, shipping options and mobile features. Built specifically for WordPress, WooCommerce seamlessly connects to the platform. This makes it a very attractive choice for existing WP users.

WooCommerce is highly extensible and highly customizable for developers, and offers things like custom AJAX endpoints, Webhook systems, and more.

at gCommerce – Under big and small brands, BigCommerce offers features such as site builder, delivery options, reporting and more. It also sells merchants for sale on other sites and platforms, including eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Google Shopping and Square. In addition, it has a buy button to enable sales on blogs, emails and more.

In addition, BigCommerce has a built-in B2B offering for wholesalers and retailers that sell to other businesses.

BigCommerce is fully hosted, so the company handles all platform maintenance and updates.

Volusion – Another popular ecommerce solution, Volusion offers merchants to create online stores, display their wares and receive payments all on one platform. Volusion comes with standard features including website builder, shopping cart software, marketing tools and more.

Drupal Commerce – This is an open source e-commerce framework that allows users to build online stores and applications on Drupal. Drupal Commerce is very flexible and offers hundreds of modules that allow users to enhance and extend its functionality. So does Commerce Kickstart, “Drupal Commerce’s distribution is packed with features that make it fuller, faster to run and easier to manage.”

2. Online Markets

Ecommerce transactions can also take place in online markets – places that facilitate transactions between merchants and customers. Many online markets use their own inventory; they prefer to connect buyers and sellers and offer them a platform where they can do business.

Some of the best sites online are:

Amazon – A company that needs no introduction, Amazon is one of the largest online markets offering a wide selection of books, electronics, clothing, accessories, baby products and more.

As of 2015, there have been over 2 million third party sellers on the site, i according to Amazon, these sellers sold two billion items in 2014.

eBay – eBay is another popular online marketplace that connects merchants and buyers, facilitating B2B, B2C and C2C e-commerce. eBay offers products in several categories, including electronics, cars, fashion, collectibles and more.

EBay merchants can also hold auctions where buyers can bid on the product. This provides the opportunity to sell items above market value.

Etsy – Etsy is an online marketplace specializing in handmade, vintage and unique merchandise. Millions of third-party sellers use Etsy to showcase and sell their creations, and people (buyers and sellers alike) love the site because of its community-centric feel.

libaba – Alibaba is an online marketplace for wholesalers, manufacturers, suppliers and importers / exporters. An effective website that allows customers to find suppliers and buy goods in bulk.

Fiverr – This is a free services marketplace that connects people (mostly entrepreneurs) with providers who offer everything from graphic design and internet marketing to video translation and development. As its name implies, gig prices for Fiverr start at $ 5, though depending on what you sell, it can reach hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

oDesk – Formerly Elance-oDesk, Upwork is a marketplace that connects individuals and businesses with freelancers from around the world. What types of services can you buy and sell on Upwork? Answer: the whole series. Website freelancers range from web developers and designers to virtual assistants, accountants and consultants.

3. Social media

Social media can pave the way for e-commerce in two ways: social websites can facilitate sales by directing customers to the e-commerce merchant site, or they can allow customers to buy something directly on the platform.

How social media facilitates e-commerce

In many cases, social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest are used as e-commerce platforms. Instead, merchants use these websites to display their wares. And when shoppers come across an item they like on social networks, they head to the ecommerce merchant site.

For example, many marketers displaying their products on Instagram use solutions like Like2Buy to help buyers buy items. Here’s how it works: When a user searches for a product they like on their Instagram feed, they can click on the Like2Buy store to see the product page.

Conducting Ecommerce Transactions on Social Networks

Social networks are also exploring ways that consumers can complete their shopping without leaving the site.

It has Pinterest, for example Purchasable needles that allow marketers to sell the products featured on their Pinterest page. According to the pages, “Needle purchases have a blue price tag, which tells people that your product is in stock and available for purchase. People can easily spot these Frames across Pinterest – in search results, related Ost, and on your business profile.”

Purchase pins are currently available at Shopify, BigCommerce and Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

Speaking of Shopify, the e-commerce platform also offers a fully integrated Facebook store that allows shoppers to buy products without leaving the site. Shopify also has Messenger support, so shoppers can buy items and track their orders via chat.

The above initiatives are certainly interesting, but it is important to note that not all social sales projects are successful. Get shopping buttons on Twitter. In 2014, a social site released a feature that allows shoppers to purchase items directly from Tweet.

A tremendous success began.

In 2017, Twitter officially shut down the project, though it said so encryption that the company will “continue to invest in retail products that help with online shopping.”

Ecommerce Examples: Success Stories and Floss

Now that you have enough e-commerce background, it’s time to take a look at some real-world examples of ecommerce success and failure stories. Check them out below, learn from their examples and see what you can apply in your business.

Ecommerce Success Stories

This section lists some of the most popular ecommerce sites on the web and they shed light on what makes them successful.


We mentioned Amazon quite a bit in this piece, and for good reason: we are one of the most successful e-commerce companies in the world. In addition to a thriving market with third-party vendors, Amazon is also earning huge revenue from its first membership, as well as affiliates like Amazon Web Services and

Which makes Amazon successful

Bestselling author and speaker Bryan Eisenberg, who recently published the book Be Like Amazon: Even a lemonade stand can do it (co-authored by Jeffrey Eisenberg and Roy H. Williams) often talks about the 4 pillars of Amazon’s success.

These pillars are:

1. Be Customer Focused – “Amazon is not trying to force buyers to match the way they want to sell them,” he says. “Amazon would rather fit into how shoppers are buying today and will change their shopping behavior in the future.”

2. Get creative – Amazon is constantly experimenting and thinking of ways to improve the shopping experience.

3. Focus on Customer Experience – According to Bryan, “Amazon will do everything possible to get people talking about the amazing experience of buying or returning items through the store. Every little detail in the store is designed to keep customers engaged and excited to be there. “

4. Continually improve and optimize – Amazon makes good use of its data. The company is constantly reducing numbers and using data in almost every aspect of its business, including customer experience, storage, business, finance and marketing.


Birchbox has a dual business: It offers a subscription where the company charges members $ 10 a month to receive “a personalized blend of 5 samples for hair, makeup, skin care and fragrance.” Birchbox also has an online store that allows shoppers to buy full-size products. Since 2015, Birchbox has had more than 800 brand partners and more than one million subscribers.

What makes Birchbox successful

Several factors contribute to the success of Birchbox, but one of the most important is the data. Defeated co-founder, Katia Beauchamp, he told Forbes this information became their best friend.

Here’s an example of how a business uses data. Birchbox introduces subscribers to review each item and use that information to align customers with the best products. Birchbox also sends information to its partners so they can identify what is working and what is hiding.

Another key to their success? Unlike most of its competitors, Birchbox only lives a subscription service. The company allows members to purchase full-size products, not just samples. This beats the Birchbox to differentiate itself.


Wayfair is a home improvement e-manual that offers a wide selection of more than 7 million items. Forbes reports that “Wayfair estimated $ 18 million in 2013 to $ 915 million, up 55% from the year before.” As of May 2017, the site had over 36 million visits.

Which makes Wayfair successful

Wayfair is a shipping carrier and carries almost no inventory. However, the company does a great job managing suppliers, orders and execution. “They figured out how to manage the 7000 suppliers and the delivery process so that the suppliers go directly to the consumer,” says Neeraj Agrawal of Battery Ventures in an interview with Forbes.

It works like this. Vendors transfer their inventory information to Wayfair servers, and the associated algorithm crushes the numbers and uses that information to determine the delivery time and process.

“Once it’s ordered, the software is turned on to notify the vendor. The system then decides how to ship the item – the Quoizel light can mean a small package via UPS or FedEx; area space requires the delivery company Wayfair has contracts with.”

In addition to managing suppliers and orders effectively, Wayfair also strives to meet its customers. The company encourages every customer to create an account and monitor customer behavior, so Wayfair adjusts the purchase.


Zappos is an online shoe and apparel retailer based in Las Vegas, NV. It’s still owned by Amazon, but it’s still worth looking into what makes this ecommerce site successful.

Which makes Zappos successful

Zappos is known for customer service. One of the core values ​​of a reseller is “Supply through service”, and time and time again pass through employees.

For example, while other companies encourage call center agents to quickly pick up the phone, Zappos wants its employees to stay on the phone for as long as necessary. At one point, even an employee of Zappos spent 10 hours on the phone with a customer.

When asked how the company feels about this, Jeffrey Lewis, supervisor of the Zappos loyalty team, said: “The first core value of Zappos is the provision of wow services, and we believe it gives our team members the ability to stay on the phone with customers because everything while they need it, it is an important means of meeting this value. “

E-commerce flops

You have presented success stories; now he has looked at some of the biggest flops in the industry. Pay attention and learn from the mistakes of these companies. was a UK-based apparel and cosmetics division, and failed just two years after launch. It was just one of many Internet companies that shut down during the 2000 dot-com bubble.

The NASDAQ Composite Index (consisting of many tech companies) emerged in the late 1990s, but dropped sharply after the bubble ballooned.

For the uninitiated, the bursting of dot-com bubbles took place from 1997 to 2001. The rapid growth of internet usage and acceptance at the time prompted investments in incredibly high values ​​and companies that even made profits into the public. Still, sustainable hype and capital soon dried up. As we learn below, this was one of the reasons why (among others) was shut down.

Why Failed

Poor user experience, improper growth plans and high burnout rates have all contributed to’s failure. The site requires JavaScript and Flash, as well as many large startup files. This resulted in slow loading times and, ultimately, a poor user experience. also tried to expand the route too fast and its operating costs were too high. And because of the decline in technology stocks at the time, the company was able to raise enough funds to stay in the water.


As its name implies, was an online toy retailer. It was launched in 1997, and then in 2001 it went bankrupt.

Why it didn’t work on

Like, Toys tried to expand too fast and also had heavy operating costs. Due to market conditions following the dot-com bubble, Toyota was unable to raise capital that would allow it to continue in business.

But that is the only factor that led to his failure. According to ABC News, “During its first holiday season after going public, the site is littered with orders, as are other toy websites. EToys has sold more than any of its competitors, but late delivery promotions have driven the company. Analysts say it also became wary of buying a web holiday during the 2000 holiday season. “

Poor publicity remains to stop there. At one point, the company was suing Etoy, a Swiss art site. eToys tried to find the domain, saying it was too similar to The move received a widespread response, with giving up.

Toy seato

Founded in 2010, Toygaroo was an online toy rental service called Netflix for toys. Toys allowed parents to rent toys for a while and then return them when their children were tired of playing.

Toygaroo had a promising start. Its founder, Nikki Pope, appeared on the hit TV show Shark Tank and secured an investment of $ 200,000 from Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary. Unfortunately, that investment paid off. In 2012, Toygaroo filed for bankruptcy and then extinguished it.

Why Toygaroo failed

Although the exact details of Toygaro’s shutdown were not clear, the company appears to have had problems with the rapid growth and execution of the business model.

Phil Smy, former Chief Technology Officer at Toygaroo, said the Shark Tank Blog, that Toygaroo might have trouble scaling work. “The business has grown,” he said. “To be honest, that was a problem. Growing explosives is hard to deal with small businesses. I thought – and still think – it’s a great idea. The business model needs some changes compared to what we did. I would grow organically ( i.e. slower) and I would find investors willing to go the distance. “

Then Kevin O’Leary, one of the sharks who invested in Toygaroo, he told Forbes it was his worst job on the show. “Great idea, but I can’t prove it,” he said.

Launching Ecommerce Knowledge

And there you have it. We just talked about what e-commerce is, the types of online retailers and the biggest successes (and failures) in the industry. What’s next?

Answer: take action.

Wherever you are currently on your ecommerce journey, we hope this post will give you some insights that you can apply in your venture. If you are just getting started and need help choosing a platform or deciding your target audience, go back and read the section on Ecommerce Types and Solutions. Already running a business and want to ensure your success? Read the ecommerce stories above.

And if you need any more tips or insights, hereafter referred to as help. Get in touch and we’ll see how we can help you take your ecommerce to the next level.

Ecommerce Guide

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