As eCommerce reshapes the modern marketplace, many shoppers are spending more time and money online, leading eCommerce to grow, with sales expected to reach $5.5 trillion in 2022.1 The accessibility of online shopping and the growing use of digital payment options have resulted in a dramatic shift in consumer shopping habits. While there are advantages to expanding online, the rapidly changing landscape has also created financial, economic and social benefits.
eCommerce Encourages Entrepreneurship
The eCommerce industry encourages entrepreneurship by reducing start-up costs. An eCommerce site can be launched for as little as $1,000, depending on the necessary features for business.2 Whereas a significant amount of time and money is needed to open a physical store, an eCommerce store can be operational in just a few short weeks or days. Fewer barriers to start and a more significant market share encourage businesses of all sizes to compete. As more retailers enter the marketplace, sustained growth and competition lead to more innovation and online experiences. To keep customers coming back, retailers must focus on the customer experience and create compelling products that stand out. This focused attention helps attract new customers and incentivizes current customers to return to online shops, driving economic growth.
Widely Available Goods and Services
Businesses can connect with customers through online channels and have far greater reach than physical stores. It’s estimated that 2.14 billion people worldwide, roughly a quarter of the world’s population, will make an online purchase in 2022.3 ECommerce ensures customers can find everything they need in one place. Without the limitations of a brick and mortar store, online retail stores can offer a greater number of products to their customers. In addition to increased purchasing options, customers can browse and make purchases at their convenience. Online stores enable customers to spend their time shopping instead of driving to physical stores or waiting in long lines. Online stores are always open and provide 24/7 access to vital goods and services. Secure payment options, including digital wallets, credit or debit cards and crypto, facilitate payment and encourage sales.
More Affordable Products
The increasing number of online storefronts has resulted in competition among retailers to provide the best deal to consumers. This gives consumers the ability to compare prices and quality. Additionally, lower operating costs allow online retailers to sell products for less than traditional retailers. The demand for certain products encourages companies to create more affordable alternatives. With so many online options, consumers can find products at their desired price point, encouraging even less affluent customers to shop. Retailers can also offer deferred payment through Buy Now, Pay Later platforms that make purchases more achievable for customers. Giving customers the option to pay later can boost sales by making larger purchases more obtainable.
A Lifeline During Uncertain Times
A key benefit of online retail is that it is a lifeline for businesses and customers during turbulent times. As the world went into lockdown in response to COVID-19, commerce habits shifted to online purchasing. Shortages of essential items on store shelves resulted in many customers turning to eCommerce. Online shopping boomed because it was a safe and viable option to obtain necessary items. Companies that focused their efforts on online selling were more likely to survive and grow. Expanding their online presence also meant some businesses could continue to provide jobs to workers during a period of record unemployment and uncertainty.4
The growth of online retail translates to increased career opportunities. According to the data and analytics company GlobalData, the number of eCommerce jobs has increased by 180% from September 2020 to September 2021.5 Jobs in marketing, sales, design, web development and IT positions are vital to keeping an eCommerce company operating. While online websites automate many processes, the human element cannot be eliminated. Talented IT professionals are necessary to create and keep websites up and running, while creative sales and design teams contribute content to educate and connect with customers. Lastly, skilled customer service departments are necessary to handle customer queries.
Why Should Businesses Care
The eCommerce industry has revolutionized commerce worldwide. Entrepreneurs can now set up shop easier than ever, providing new opportunities. The increased number of online retailers has generated more diversity in goods and services, which helps keep costs manageable. During times of uncertainty, eCommerce offers a lifeline that enables consumers to find much-needed supplies. Businesses that shift to eCommerce can continue to expand while helping the greater good by providing employment, goods and services to everyone.