In the past, you may have never thought that a platform as large as PChome or Yahoo would also face huge challenges in terms of declining revenue and strong rivals—such as shrimp skins and the sudden emergence of 486 group buying. The long history of the Internet, the rapid advancement of technology and the promotion of the convenience of transportation and the emergence of online secure trading platforms make “cross-border sales” no longer difficult.
Whether you are a marketer or a consumer, you will find that the business opportunities of online shopping continue to grow, because contemporary users are more accustomed to finding information and collecting information through the Internet, and there are business opportunities where people move. The transactions that happen on the Internet are simply called “e-commerce”.
This article, from the future trend of e-commerce to the basic concepts of e-commerce, tells you exactly what “e-commerce” is, how you should start your e-commerce business, and the key elements of e-commerce success! If you want to build your new kingdom through the Internet business or assist your business transformation, then you must read it carefully!
What is e-commerce?
The essence of e-commerce is the place of transaction, but the place where the transaction takes place is transferred to the Internet, so it can be faster, easier and even cross-border to connect buyers and sellers.
Future trends in e-commerce
Amazon, the e-commerce giant, will celebrate its 24th birthday in 2018. In terms of peers, Amazon is not just longevity, but its market value is rising every year. In 2017, Amazon’s market share was as high as 37%, and its market value was 130 billion US dollars more than the total of traditional American retailers such as Macy ’s, Bestbuy, Target, Walmart … According to Sellbrite estimates, Amazon’s market share will continue to rise in the next three years, and it is expected to reach 50% by 2021.
According to Statista’s statistics and predictions, e-commerce only accounted for 10.2% of the global retail industry in 2017, and is expected to reach 17.5% by 2021; it is estimated that in 2020, online store sales will grow 78 %. This shows that the continued growth of e-commerce can be expected. From less than one-fifth of the retail industry, it also represents its huge growth space.
Types of e-commerce platforms
Traditional e-commerce platforms can be basically divided into two types: Self-hosted e-commerce platforms and Hosted e-commerce platforms.
Self-managed e-commerce platform
Enterprises need to handle the operation and management of e-commerce platforms, including designing and developing e-commerce platforms, regularly updating web pages, and installing and updating software tools. The development and maintenance costs of this type of e-commerce platform are quite high, but the advantage is that the enterprise can directly control the online sales platform, clearly grasp the sales data and ensure the security of the data.
Trustee-managed e-commerce platform
The development cost is relatively cheap. Enterprises do not need to manage the platform themselves, but adopt the concept of “rental”. Product information updates and website maintenance and management are handled by software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors.
What’s the difference?
To put it simply, the first one is more like WordPress and WooCommerce. Manufacturers usually ask the company that specializes in the website to set up their official website according to their needs. They also need to find another host, server and URL, and install Google Analytics or Facebook Pixels. Customized design.
The second kind is more like cooperation with “shopping platform”, but it is also its own official website. Taiwan ’s more well-known e-commerce platforms include Shopline (Asian version of Shopify), Meepshop, 91App, cyberbiz, easystore, etc.
This type of company has built e-commerce functionality into the entire back-office system. People who want to open a store can basically build their own e-commerce shopping website through simple drag-and-drop tools or add-ons. Generally, you can have your own official website URL directly on such a platform, and find the corresponding e-commerce services in the background, such as “members”, “special discount offers”, “buy thousands and get 100”, “install Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel Retracking “.
However, the functions of each store opening platform are different, and they will have different functions according to the different store opening charges you choose.
Which type of e-commerce do you want to engage in:
Before running your e-commerce website, you need to clarify the following three things:
Who is the main business of your e-commerce website? B2B (Business to Business), B2C (Business to Consumer), C2C (Consumer to Consumer) and C2B (Consumer to Business).
What type of business model does it belong to: Drop Shipping, Wholesale and Warehousing, Private Labeling and Manufacturing, White Labeling, and Subscription (Subscription E-commerce)
The form of the product you want to sell: Single Product Model, Single Category, Multiple Category.
Ecommerce Business Classifications
Since the nature of e-commerce is the place where transactions take place, the type of business being discussed is that in this trading place, the identities of buyers and sellers may be businesses and consumers, respectively. This can produce four main combinations, including B2B (Business to Business), B2C (Business to Consumer), C2C (Consumer to Consumer), and C2B (Consumer to Business).
(1) B2B-Business to Business
The B2B model is a business-to-business transaction. Under B2B, most of the company’s products are some form of service, but also include many software companies, office furniture rental, file hosting, supply chain management, and other companies whose target customers are enterprises.
For example, Boeing, which manufactures aircraft, and Hon Hai Precision, a Taiwan-based professional electronics manufacturer, are typical B2B companies.
(2) B2C-Business to Consumer
The B2C model is the most widely known and is the business model of early e-commerce platforms. The B2C model is inherited from traditional retailers. The platform gathers enterprise-side products, and then sells and sells them to consumers.
For example, Newegg in the United States and PChome online shopping in Taiwan are B2C e-commerce platforms.
(3) C2C-Consumer to Consumer
B2B and B2C are relatively intuitive to the average person. For example, companies doing business with companies and selling products to consumers are very common in life. C2C is more difficult to imagine.
How do consumers sell things to consumers?
In fact, the concept is very similar to the market, and the C2C e-commerce platform can be imagined as moving the venue of the market to the Internet. For example, Amazon in the U.S., shrimp crusts and PChome shopping streets that have recently been in trouble, as well as earlier open-air, Yahoo auctions, are all C2C e-commerce platforms.
(4) C2B-Consumer to Business
The C2B model is even harder to imagine. How do ordinary people sell goods to enterprises? It should be noted here that goods are not just tangible goods, but services are also a kind of goods.
Individuals provide their own services to businesses in exchange for remuneration, and the venue for the two parties can be called a C2B e-commerce platform, such as UpWork, where you can find freelencers that provide a variety of services. In addition, such as Affiliate Marketing and Google Adsense ad slots that provide their website traffic to businesses, are included in this model.
Select Business Models
Since the nature of e-commerce is about transactions, of course commodities are an integral part here. Therefore, the business model will discuss the inventory management and purchase of goods separately.
The following will be divided into 5 categories: Drop Shipping, Wholesale and Warehousing, Private Labeling and Manufacturing, White Labeling, and Subscription ( Subscription E-commerce).
(1) Drop Shipping
The advantage of the e-commerce platform of the supplier direct mode is that it does not have to bear the pressure of product inventory and management, and it is not even responsible for product packaging and shipment.
The e-commerce platform in this mode is only responsible for displaying the goods to customers. Once the customer places an order for purchase, the information will be transferred to the supplier, and the supplier will be responsible for packaging and shipping. However, it should be noted that if the supplier’s shipping speed is slow and the quality of the product is poor, customers will have a bad evaluation of the e-commerce platform, not the supplier! For example, the life market of the entrepreneur brothers belongs to the e-commerce platform of the direct supplier model.
(2) Wholesale and Warehousing
The wholesale and warehousing model requires a lot of investment in the early stage, because under this model, the e-commerce platform needs to bear the inventory, manage inventory, shipment and logistics, which means that compared with the direct shipping model of the supplier, the initial investment has more storage Space and management manpower.
(3) Private Labeling and Manufacturing
If you have a very good product idea but don’t have enough funds to build your own factory, private label and foundry manufacturing models will be your best choice.
The e-commerce platform sends product prototypes or plans to the cooperative OEM manufacturers to mass-produce products that meet expectations. In terms of shipping, the OEM platform may be responsible for the product, the e-commerce platform itself or a third party. Services such as Amazon.
In the method of selecting a foundry manufacturer according to manufacturing requirements, if it encounters the problem of product quality, it is more conducive to quickly replace different manufacturers. Another advantage is that if there are plans to build their own production lines in the future, it will be a more efficient and flexible method to quickly obtain goods for market testing by foundry manufacturing.
(4) White Labeling
Compared to private labels, if you have no idea about the product, you can try the white-brand product model. White-brand products refer to a manufacturer that has developed products with complete functions and is willing to provide other companies with OEM labels. After the signing of the contract, the e-commerce platform only needs to add its own trademark and packaging to start selling products.
However, it must be noted that manufacturers usually have a minimum order quantity limit. Under uncertain market demand, slow-moving inventory will be one of the risks that must be borne.
(5) Subscription E-commerce
The last subscription system is a more special business model. E-commerce platforms regularly send products to customers, and they also charge customers regularly. Under the subscription system, the financial advantage is that e-commerce platforms can better grasp cash flow, and in terms of marketing, it is easier to encourage customers to purchase more and promote customers’ relatives and friends to subscribe.
The difficulty in operating a subscription-based e-commerce platform lies in the selection of products and competition in niche markets, as the industries implementing subscription systems are mostly health and beauty, beauty, fashion, and food, and other industries have seen fewer successful cases.
Well-known foreign product subscription systems such as Butybox, Lookfantastic, Ipsy, and DollarShave Club, while Taiwan is currently more well-known for coffee and tea, exotic snacks, and the platform for content creators, Pressplay, and writers SOSreader and ZecZec, a platform with subscription fundraising.
Determine Product Types (Product Models for Ecommerce)
In the business model, the inventory management of goods and the mode of product procurement are discussed. Finally, the number of goods sold is used as a classification in the category of goods. There are three categories to refer to: Category (Single Category), plural categories (Multiple Category).
(1) Single Product Model
A single product e-commerce company focuses on a single product, and this product may reach a wider range of potential customers, including businesses and consumers in general.
This model is suitable for products that already have a clear product, and it is determined that the product has high demand and low competition characteristics. Otherwise, it is very likely that the eggs will be lost in the same basket.
(2) Single Category
If you want to specialize in a specific category of target customers, a single category of e-commerce platform will be your best choice. By providing a small selection of selected products, you can more easily build credibility and reputation in niche markets. But you need to be careful not to get too big a category, it is best to focus on one preference of the target customer, and gradually extend the product category to other preferences of the target customer.
(3) Multiple Category
Plural categories of e-commerce platforms are more suitable for brands that want to switch from physical stores to the Internet, or websites that have succeeded in a single category model and are ready to expand their product lines.
The difficulty in operating this type of e-commerce platform lies in commodity procurement, inventory management and logistics. Imagine that you have 10 products from different suppliers, and the business models you adopt are not the same. But on the other hand, if managed properly, the target customers already trained will be more likely to pay for your new products, and the growth and expansion of e-commerce platforms will be easier!
Key to Success 1: Know your target market, product development, and competitors
Know your target market.
An in-depth analysis and understanding of your target market is the undefeated rule of success in any business.
As different generations of consumers use different ways to absorb information. Therefore, how to design your e-commerce platform to accurately match the preferences and habits of the target market is a key to promoting digital sales.
Consider your products and the consumer groups that you expect to attract, delve into the consumer habits of consumer groups, and understand and create the best strategies that can be applied to the Internet.
Understand your product development
In which country do you want to become a seller, you must do an in-depth investigation of the local market.
Suppose you want the cross-border US market. You can judge whether your products are developmental by browsing eBay sales data and reading Amazon product reviews.
For example, the price, number of bids, and product reviews on the same type of products on the platform can help you determine whether the product is popular with the public. The number of product reviews and the date and response of the response can roughly see the sales speed, product The advantages and disadvantages of the product, or the characteristics or functions of the product that consumers care about, whether they care about the shipping time, and the packaging of the product.
Through first-hand data collection, we will help you understand the future development of the product.
In addition, you must also understand the different levels of the market, including high, medium and low prices, to dig out your product sales space. Effective use of this information will help create more outstanding brands and products, and give your product line a more complete layout.
Know your competitors
Use Google, SpyFu and AHRFS online search tools to effectively analyze potential competitors for your products.
Google search results can easily reveal who your competitors are and whether any of them are actively advertising. Paid advertisers are a very powerful metric because it represents the development of your upcoming product.
Further, analyze your e-commerce products using Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner. Search trends allow you to see that the popularity of your product in the market is in an upward or downward trend.
Key to Success 2: Providing Excellent Customer Service
Keep it simple and fast when shopping online
The concept of enabling consumers to quickly and easily navigate to and from pages when browsing the web and selecting products for purchase is an important concept for both sellers and buyers.
The long and complicated purchase process will not only make consumers abandon shopping on your e-commerce platform, but also give consumers too much time to hesitate to buy your products.
For example, here are two shopping processes for selling food-related products in Taiwan. Consumers can complete shopping within 5 steps (preferably within 3).
Provide a good consumer experience
Creating a great customer experience is critical to driving an e-commerce platform.
When consumers shop online, they desperately need a sense of security before buying—a guarantee from the seller. One of the effective ways to give consumers a comfortable shopping is to promise to return and refund when they are not satisfied with the purchased product.
In the event of a return, be sure to actively ask consumers why they returned or did not buy, which will help improve your e-commerce platform. You have to make sure that the entire return process is as stress-free as possible and to give consumers a good impression of you in the transaction process.
For example, this is the return and exchange process displayed on the website of a clothing and clothing store. It clearly shows the time required for each process with icons to let consumers know how to return. A few days later, the return Payment. In addition to reducing consumer uncertainty, it can also reduce customer service issues that may require repeated phone calls or email contact for returns.
Provide consumers with the opportunity to leave comments
For consumers, one of the biggest advantages of online shopping is that they can reach the opinions and experiences of consumers who buy goods.
When considering whether to buy a certain product, consumers will tend to rely on product evaluations given by other consumers. Providing consumers with a space to freely review products is not only a simple way to build experience, but it is also the key to attracting new consumers to generate purchasing power.
Keep in touch with buyers
As mentioned above, comments from other consumers are important to motivate others to buy. Therefore, after consumers shop online, sellers should keep in touch with consumers as much as possible, soliciting their suggestions and ideas or feedback on the products. This will not only build product credibility but also allow Buyers know that you value their consumer experience very much.
Key to Success 3: Effective Branding
Use blog or social media to promote
Introducing your product or service through a blog or using a social networking site is an effective way to promote content marketing.
When writing articles in blogs and social networking sites, you need to stand on the consumer’s point of view and think about all the questions that consumers may ask or ask for your product, and then for each question separately Detailed presentation in graphic form. Using blogs or social media to promote products will make the shopping experience more concrete.
Invite influencers to help
Inviting people with influencers on the Internet can play a huge role in publicizing products.
Once you have identified your target market, you can begin to find influential people in your target market, which can be journalists, bloggers, YouTuber, or public figures.
One of the effective invitation methods is to provide a free sample trial or free personal experience of the product before the product is publicly released. This can not only show your care and respect for them, but also give users who have promoted you a chance. Be able to talk about your products in a more open manner on their professional platform.
Develop public relations
Attracting active media attention is also an effective way to increase sales in the digital age. The development and implementation of good public relations is an aid to promote the recognition of your brand. Through the power of the media, you will be able to pass the brand to a wider audience. Therefore, it is important to have a clear call-to-action to allow the media to pay attention to the traffic it brings, or the volume of discussions on the Internet, to lead your e-commerce platform to know you better.
In simple terms, the key to the success of e-commerce is that you understand what e-commerce is and have a sound marketing strategy and plan to expand online sales for you:
In the past decade, consumers ’shopping attitudes and shopping preferences have changed dramatically. In order to continue to generate revenue and growth for the industry, companies need to know how to use the power of the Internet to create more business opportunities for you.
I believe that through this article, you have a clearer blueprint for the Internet business idea and market structure. When you know more about what is e-commerce, how do you run your e-commerce shopping website or sell on the platform, and understand the 3 keys to successfully operating your e-commerce brand, then you can believe more , The Internet can really make a difference in your business.
Even, you may have heard of cross-border e-commerce many times, hoping to sell your products to more consumers around the world in this way, or find overseas distributors.
But the very important premise is that no matter what kind of e-commerce business you want to expand, you must first have a sound marketing strategy and plan.