E-commerce: A Comprehensive Guide.

 E-commerce: A Comprehensive Guide.

E-commerce: A Comprehensive Guide.
E-commerce: A Comprehensive Guide.

E-commerce: A Comprehensive Guide.

Starting from the last third of the previous century, the Internet gradually took over our world, and human inventions flocked to it until we finally succeeded in facilitating one of the earliest human transactions in history: commerce. 

The potential to shop for and promote merchandise has become available to everybody with easy clicks on clever gadgets through online stores. You can now purchase or sell whatever products you desire, ranging from groceries to giant machines, all through what we now call e-commerce.

Article elements:

  • What is e-commerce?
  • The emergence of e-commerce.
  • Types of E-commerce.
  • What are the advantages of e-commerce?
  • How to Start in E-commerce?
  • Why do some e-commerce stores fail?
  • Examples of E-commerce Companies.
  • How to Learn E-commerce.
  • The Future of E-commerce.

What is e-commerce?

Simply put, e-commerce refers to transactions in which individuals and companies buy or sell products online. 

Products and services are bought and sold through online stores, which provide users with various functions such as browsing products, making purchases and completing payments, adding opinions and reviews about the product, and more, all through mobile phones or computers.

The emergence of e-commerce:

E-trade companies started to appear in the early 1990s. In 1992, “Book Stacks Unlimited” was released as the first online market for e-book trading. It initially relied on phone calls and later transformed into a website in 1994. 

Just 365 days later, Jeff Bezos released the well-known Amazon store, accompanied via way of means of Pierre Omidyar launching the “AuctionWeb,” now referred to as eBay.

Just three years after the launch of these online stores, what we now know as PayPal was introduced in the form of an electronic payment system. 

It was considered a miraculous addition that completed the remaining step of the online purchasing process: remote payment. Dozens of world websites and offerings have been released at the start of this century, contributing to the present-day kingdom of e-commerce.

The expansion of e-commerce continues to this day, with hundreds of other websites and services being launched to improve the commerce and shopping experience. 

Not to mention the developments that have occurred in the previously mentioned websites, making e-commerce one of the fastest-growing fields in the world, with sales surpassing $4 trillion to date, and it is expected to exceed $5 trillion by 2022!

Types of E-commerce:

E-commerce is divided into four main categories based on the relationship between the customer and the merchant. They can be classified as follows:

  • Business-to-Consumer (B2C): This is the most commonly used model in the world of e-commerce. It involves transactions between a company and individual male or woman consumers.. For example, when a buyer purchases a phone from an online store, the transaction is between the company and the consumer.
  • Business-to-Business (B2B): This model focuses on selling and buying between companies. Transactions often involve raw materials, equipment, or wholesale goods. For example, transactions that occur between a manufacturer and a wholesale distributor.
  • Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C): This model is similar to the B2C model but involves transactions between individual consumers. Most major e-commerce platforms now offer the ability for individuals to create seller accounts and sell their products through the platform.
  • Consumer-to-Business (C2B): This model is a traditional model where consumers offer services to businesses. For example, when a company purchases a logo design service from a platform like Fiverr, the corresponding model is C2B.

As for the classification of e-commerce companies based on the products and services they offer, they can be divided as follows:

  • Goods Sellers: This is the most common type of e-commerce store, where physical goods such as clothing, furniture, and food are sold. These companies focus on selling tangible products that are shipped to the consumer after purchase. Amazon is one of the most well-known examples.
  • Service Providers: These companies sell services online. One prominent example is the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, where software is sold as a service with subscription plans, either annually or monthly.
  • Digital Products: Digital products differ from physical goods and can include e-books, computer software, or online courses. For example, platforms like "Academy Hosoub" offer high-quality specialized programming courses, which are considered digital products.

What are the advantages of e-commerce?

There are several differences between e-commerce and traditional commerce, as each takes a different form to perform the same task. In traditional commerce, the customer has to go to the physical store and pay for the chosen goods. 

In e-commerce, with just a click, you can purchase products regardless of their location and your location.

Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, but e-commerce is currently achieving unprecedented growth in annual sales. It keeps up with technological advancements in an attempt to provide a seamless experience for consumers in the simplest ways. 

The main advantages of e-commerce are as follows:

1. Speed of Purchase:

E-commerce allows consumers to shop from anywhere and at any time. There is no need for consumers to travel to another city to purchase specific products.

 With just a few clicks, they can get the products they want without any hassle. Additionally, there is a wide range of products available to buyers. Previously, buyers were limited to locally manufactured products, but now they can purchase products from around the world, providing them with a considerable selection of products.

2. Ease of Shopping:

One of the advantages of e-commerce is its availability 24/7, unlike traditional stores that adhere to specific operating hours. Additionally, consumers are no longer limited to stores in their vicinity; they can purchase any product they desire, even if it is on the other side of the world.

 E-commerce platforms also offer features that are not available in traditional stores, such as the ability to search for products through a search bar and quickly browse through products on the same page. This saves consumers the effort of searching for products in traditional stores.

3. Cost Reduction and Scalability:

Creating an online store does not require the business owner to rent a physical space or spend vast amounts of money on its setup. They can launch their online store with lower costs and in a shorter time compared to traditional stores. 

Expansion does not require opening new branches in different locations; companies can make significant expansions into distant geographical areas. Online stores are not limited to a single geographic location, making digital presence and market share expansion easier. Thanks to the widespread use of digital marketing and social media, expanding market share has become more accessible.

 This makes e-commerce cost-effective in terms of establishment, operation, and expansion.

E-commerce surpasses traditional commerce in many aspects, from saving time, effort, and costs to providing other advantages such as discount coupons, better offers, and responsiveness to inbound marketing strategies, which represent the majority of modern marketing trends.

How to Start in E-commerce?

To build a successful online store, you need to take a significant amount of learning and experimentation. Achieving quick profits is just a false illusion, and successful e-commerce entrepreneurs follow a clear roadmap that helps them enter the world of e-commerce and make a profit. 

Here are some tips to assist you:

1. Study the feasibility of your e-commerce project:

A feasibility study is a fundamental step when starting any project. Projects should not be built based on intuition, but rather on research and gathering the necessary information about the project. 

By conducting a good feasibility study, you can determine the viability of your project, assess the market acceptance of your idea, and study the financial and technical aspects.

With dozens of competing stores out there, to establish an online store and gain a share of the market, you should identify the points that differentiate you from those stores. Do you have a faster delivery service? 

What about making your customer service better than your competitors? Think about loyalty programs that you can add for your customers, and try to find several aspects that set you apart from your competitors to enhance your presence in the eyes of customers and attract them to you.

2. Adopt a suitable business model:

E-commerce has different business models, and to know the suitable model for you, you need to determine the services you can provide. For example, you can consider the wholesale model if you have a warehouse. Different types of e-commerce models depend on the capabilities you have.

If you want to build a successful business, you should first create a unique brand. To do this, you need to choose assets for your brand that are interconnected with the personality of your online store. 

Start by choosing a name and then proceed to design the visual identity of the store. You can seek the help of professional logo design services on platforms like Fiverr.

3. Choose suitable products:

The last thing you should think about when building an online store is trying to offer a wide range of categories and products, thinking that they will generate more profits. What will motivate the customer to buy from you instead of heading to major stores like Amazon and eBay? 

The answer to the previous question lies in identifying a specific category of products, excelling in it, and ensuring fair competition. The absence of competition may indicate that there is no market at all!

Now, after determining the business model, comes the stage of choosing the market and products to be offered on the online store. To do this correctly, search for the best-selling products in other stores. 

There is no better proof of the success of a particular product than its actual sales. If you manufacture or own your products, you can approach potential customers and start gathering feedback on your products to know the most suitable ones to display on the online store.

4. Calculate the costs of setting up an online store:

The costs of building an e-commerce store vary depending on the plan and business model, but ultimately, they depend on your budget. 

Therefore, you should calculate the startup costs first before diving into the operational phase, which incurs additional expenses. The average cost of building an online store in 2020 ranged from $1,000 to $3,000.

To determine the exact budget required, calculate the costs of feasibility study and visual identity design. Consider the costs of domain and suitable hosting for your store for one year, and don't forget to ensure you have an SSL certificate and include its costs if your hosting plan does not already cover it.   

Additionally, include the costs of a programmer responsible for building the online store, as well as the costs of a content writer and digital marketer for your store.

5. Determine suitable payment methods for e-commerce:

Once you have a great idea and a fantastic look for your brand, it's time to take a step back and develop an operational plan with a defined budget. Start by setting a timeline for your project and calculating its monthly costs until you reach the break-even point (where expenses equal revenue). 

Then, plan for other aspects such as delivery companies, the number of employees, logistics services, and marketing budget.

To be able to receive profits from e-commerce, you should first determine how you will facilitate that. Will you offer customers the option of cash payment to the delivery representative upon receiving the product? Or will you rely on electronic payment methods or a combination of both? In this case, there are various electronic payment methods, and you should choose the ones that are suitable for your customers.

You can offer payment through credit cards, digital wallets, mobile payments, and bank transfers. In all cases, try to provide the easiest and most widely used payment methods among your customers, as electronic payment methods may pose a barrier for some customers.

6. Create your online store:

There are several ways to create an e-commerce store, either by programming it from scratch or by relying on e-commerce platforms. In the first case, you will have complete control over your online store and the ability to build it as you desire, although it will require some time investment.

In the second case, relying on e-commerce platforms to create online stores, the best options include creating a website on WordPress and installing the WooCommerce plugin. 

This allows you to transform the website into an online store that includes all aspects such as payment gateways, the ability to add your products, create product categories, and other features.

Why do some e-commerce stores fail?

We often draw inspiration from the success stories of thriving stores, but few people look at the failed e-commerce stores that could have avoided their mistakes. 

The following points highlight the reasons why e-commerce stores fail, so you can avoid them on your journey in the world of e-commerce.

1. Lack of contact information

One of the problems that many e-commerce store owners face is not providing clear contact information about their stores. 

This puts the credibility of the store at risk and leaves customers wondering how to reach out in case of issues with their orders or even hesitation in making an online purchase.

2. Choosing the wrong products

Many business owners believe that the products they have chosen for their e-commerce ventures are the best, despite the reality being quite the opposite. 

Business owners must avoid falling in love with their personal choices and instead allocate time, in the beginning, to research and study the market to find the best product.

In addition, many e-commerce stores fall into the trap of not having a clear product distribution, such as not organizing selected categories properly. 

For example, when displaying clothing products on an online store, it is natural to categorize them based on their differences, such as division by gender or age group (children's clothing, men's clothing, etc.). Then each category can be further divided into subcategories, making it easier for customers to search for items.

3. Competing with market giants

Many e-commerce store owners start with excessive enthusiasm, but it fades away after a while. 

This often occurs due to attempting to display all product categories in the store without focusing on a specific niche. This puts the new store in direct competition with well-established stores and brands. 

As mentioned earlier, choosing specific product categories and achieving reasonable sales in those categories is better than attempting to display a large number of products without any results.

4. Lack of transparency

Creating an e-commerce store without a clear return policy is not advisable. No one wants to buy a product that cannot be returned if it is damaged or defective, and many issues could arise during storage and shipping. Having a clear return policy is essential in the world of e-commerce, even if it results in some losses.

Additionally, discovering new fees at the final step of the purchasing process is a major reason that leads buyers to reconsider their purchase. They feel deceived, thinking that the store is not dealing with them transparently. 

Provide customers with shipping fees and applicable taxes upfront on the product page to avoid their anger at the last moment and prevent losing the majority of them.

5. Creating a non-mobile-friendly e-commerce store

Society is increasingly leaning towards using mobile devices more than desktops. This is particularly relevant when creating an e-commerce store.

 To avoid this issue, you can hire a developer to make your store responsive to mobile devices. This way, you will attract more visits and provide a better user experience.

While the above list includes important points regarding the failure of e-commerce stores, there can be various other factors contributing to their failure, such as managerial failure, poor product quality, lack of information, excessive pricing, inadequate marketing, and other operational and management-related issues.

Examples of E-commerce Companies:

E-commerce encompasses various types and domains that provide numerous opportunities for businesses to achieve greater sales and growth. Here are some prominent e-commerce companies:

  • Amazon: is one of the most well-known e-commerce stores in the world. It specializes in retail product sales, in addition to offering services such as web hosting, e-books, and many other products and services.
  • Noon: Noon is an e-commerce company specializing in retail sales. It was founded in 2016 and operates in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Alibaba:  is a Chinese company that provides a dedicated marketplace for wholesale and retail trade. It also offers cloud computing services through "Alibaba Cloud" and electronic payment services through "Alipay," making e-commerce easier for store owners and users.

How to Learn E-commerce:

Learning e-commerce has become a necessity rather than a luxury, especially for entrepreneurs who want to take advantage of this great opportunity and achieve significant sales and profits. You can learn e-commerce through:

E-commerce learning courses:

The best way to learn e-commerce is to start by taking a training course that provides comprehensive information about e-commerce, how to get started, the skills you need to acquire, and other aspects you should consider.

 It's worth noting that not all training courses are paid; there are free courses available that provide valuable information and are taught by specialized individuals with experience in the field of e-commerce.

Reading Books and Informative Articles:

Textual content such as books and articles provide valuable information and assistance for you to learn e-commerce professionally. They go beyond discussing buying and selling methods and delve into understanding how to plan an e-commerce project and manage a store, inventory, and customer service.

as well as address common issues that arise in e-commerce and the most suitable ways to solve them. You can follow my blog on platforms like "Khamsat" and "Mostaql" for more insightful e-commerce articles.

Create Your Store:

The best way to learn e-commerce is through hands-on experience. You can create your store using platforms like WooCommerce and learn everything yourself, starting from setting up a WordPress website, installing the WooCommerce plugin, adding products, and configuring all the technical aspects of the store, to experiencing the purchasing process from the store.

The Future of E-commerce:

There is no doubt that e-commerce is continuously growing. In 2021, the size of the e-commerce market reached $5.2 trillion, and in the current year of 2023, this number has grown to $6.3 trillion.

 It is expected to further increase to $8.1 trillion by 2026. This indicates a thriving future for e-commerce, along with new trends entering the market, such as the use of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality to provide a more seamless shopping experience.


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