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What is e-commerce?
Insights and trends

What is e-commerce?

17 June 2021

3 min read

If you’ve recently set up a company, or you’re looking to sell your products online for the first time, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter the word ‘e-commerce’. You may have heard the term many times before, but whatexactly does e-commerce mean, and how can you make the most of the opportunities presented by online retail?

What is e-commerce?

No prizes for guessing that e-commercestands for ‘electronic commerce’. But if we’re looking for a more complete definition, Collins Dictionary states : “E-commerceis the buying, selling, and ordering of goods and services using the internet.”

The UK e-commercemarket is expected to generate £80.675bn in revenue during 2021, according to Statista. They ranked the following among the most popular types of e-commerce goods bought online – we’ve highlighted the top five:

  1. Fashion, such as clothes, shoes and accessories.
  2. Food deliveries, including from restaurants, fast food and catering businesses.
  3. Printed media such as books, magazines and newspapers.
  4. Furniture, including home accessories and gardening products.
  5. Electronics, such as computers, mobile phones and tablets.

In truth, there is no shortage of businesses who could benefit from having an e-commerceplatform in place.

The benefits of e-commerce for small businesses

For many businesses, selling through an e-commerce websitecould be a game-changer. Here are some of the ways that adopting an e-commerce model may benefit your company:

  • Round-the-clock sales. Provided your website is working, you could theoretically sell your products or services to your customers at any time of day or night. Unlike a bricks and mortar shopfront, you won’t have to dust off those ‘open’ and ‘closed’ signs at certain times each day.
  • Grow your customer base. Loyal customers who live locally may be integral to many business’s success, but by selling online, you could also reach new customers whether they live in the Shetland Isles or Shanghai. Pssst – we’d encourage you to read our guide to importing and exporting after Brexit if your business is involved with overseas trade.
  • Build resilience. By diversifying your business model – for example, by offering an online shop as well as your high street presence – your business may benefit from ‘spreading the risk’ and could avoid being too reliant on one type of service to succeed. While no business is entirely pandemic-proof, having different revenue streams and a fresh inventory online and offline could help to protect your cash flow.
  • New innovation. Selling online doesn’t mean you have to dispense with the old way of doing business entirely. You could explore innovative hybrid models like Click and Collect, where you combine the best of traditional high street retail with the dynamism of e-commerce.
  • Customer satisfaction. Giving your customers more ways to buy your products could help you build an affinity with them. You could use your e-commerce platformto introduce customers to special offers, and build an active and engaged social media presence, where you might receive valuable feedback that you feed into your operations.

How Tyl works alongside your e-commerce activity

Tracking your sales can get untidy at the best of times, but with the trusty Tyl Portal, you may have a good chance of staying organised. It’s free to use if you’re a Tyl customer (fees and eligibility criteria apply, and whether you’re selling online, offline or both, here are some of the things you could learn:

  • Your sales volume, with clear visibility of payments made to you.
  • Your busiest times, which could help you plan your opening hours, or when to promote special offers online.
  • Your customer trends, such as whether they’re repeat visitors.

Read more about the Tyl Portal and how it could complement your e-commerce presence.

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