The greatest advantage eCommerce has over traditional retail is that it’s conducted online instead of in a physical store. This opens up a new world of benefits that retailers of all sizes are using today to improve their business and stay competitive.
The use of eCommerce has skyrocketed in the past few years, particularly during the time when efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19 resulted in massive disruption of brick-and-mortar businesses. Now, both businesses and consumers are capitalizing on the advantages of online shopping which include:
- Convenience and availability: Unlike physical retail, eCommerce provides the advantage of leisurely browsing, holding an item for a few days for consideration, making wish lists for the future, and cataloguing products by interest or availability. Consumers can do all of this in their own time, without having to worry about store hours or the inconvenience of travel.
- Global reach: Whereas a brick-and-mortar store is limited by location, an online store offers a business reach beyond its geographic area – generating new awareness for their brand. This allows many businesses to venture into international markets and reach a new set of customers. For consumers, this global reach allows them to make purchases easily, regardless of location.
- Reduced costs: Since there’s less of a need to hire a big sales staff for an online store, eCommerce businesses can save on operational costs and invest in warehousing, inventory, customer service, and website deals. Plus, these processes can be automated to accelerate orders, deliveries, and payments through digital technology.
- Personalized marketing: eCommerce platforms provide access to a wealth of customer data, giving businesses the opportunity to personalize their messaging and tailor their efforts to their customers buying habits. Customers often appreciate this more personal level of eCommerce marketing.
- Capturing unique, niche markets: It is difficult to scale a niche product in a brick-and-mortar store unless it becomes a mainstream product. eCommerce sellers on the other hand, can tap into a larger market and use online search capabilities to lead new customers to their products. This also enables customers to find products that they may not be able to find in-store.
What are the disadvantages of eCommerce?
Although eCommerce offers businesses convenience and profitability, it still comes with its own set of disadvantages. Some of the pitfalls of eCommerce include:
- Less customer interaction: Since the majority of interactions and decisions with your customers happen digitally, it could be harder to provide customer service when needed, as well as to assess customer needs, wants, and concerns. Human relationships play an important role in retaining online buyers.
- Technical difficulties: If your online site is slow, broken, or unavailable to customers, it impacts your ability to sell. Site crashes, technical difficulties, and security issues leave a negative impression of your brand.
- Customers can’t test products: An ecommerce experience can be limiting for shoppers who prefer to test out and be hands-on with a product, especially when it comes to physical products like clothing, shoes, and beauty supplies.
- Wait time: While shoppers in physical stores can leave with their purchased products in hand, ecommerce sites can’t provide that instant gratification.