With eCommerce, you can reach potential customers all over the world with the click of a button.

That’s great, but what is eCommerce, anyway?

We asked one of our partners, Andy Estes, CEO of Sku Vault inventory and warehouse management system for eCommerce merchants, to provide an insight into the world of eCommerce.

For the uninitiated, eCommerce is, in its simplest form, the sale of goods and/or services online. Whether you use an established marketplace to sell your products, such as Amazon.com, Buy.com, or eBay.com, or if you sell on your own website, or if you utilize an eCommerce platform like Shopify, Bigcommerce, or Magento – it’s all eCommerce. Online retail is available to customers 24/7, on any device, all over the world.

Uncertain if branching out into eCommerce is right for your bricks-and-mortar business? Think I might be a tiny bit biased, as an eCommerce seller and creator & purveyor of inventory management system for eCommerce merchants? How’s this for unbiased: global eCommerce sales passed $1.25 trillion last year. That is insane, and besides how easy it is to sell online, that statistic is the number one reason to jump into eCommerce.

First: who are you selling to?

If you’re wanting to delve into eCommerce, the first thing you’ll want to do is pinpoint what you’re trying to sell, and who you want to sell it to:

  • B2B: One company selling to another. Think manufacturers selling to distributors, or wholesalers selling to retailers.
  • B2C: This is what most people think of when they hear “eCommerce”. This is your typical Amazon seller, or Shopify user.
  • C2B: Typically more service-oriented, this is a model that allows, for example, freelancers to sell their services on sites such as Elance or Fiverr.
  • C2C: Thinking of putting your old refrigerator on eBay or Craigslist before tossing it out on the curb? Great example of C2C eCommerce.

Selling online provides more visibility for your product

Between ready access to computers, tablets, smart phones, and 2.4 billion Internet users (that’s over one third of the Earth’s population), it’s easy to see how online retail can put your products in front of more eyes. With that insane statistic in mind (2.4 billion Internet users?!), it’s even easier to see the benefits of selling internationally. The coolest thing about the Internet is the ability to readily access information, goods, and services, anywhere. Are you going to deny an enormous percentage of Internet users your information, goods, and services? Companies that don’t expand internationally are doing themselves an enormous disservice. The benefits are numerous and obvious, and there are plenty of tools available to make international expansion simple.

Expanding internationally – tools of the trade

  • Channel Management: If you’re expanding to international marketplaces, then you’ll likely be wanting to get onto Amazon’s various versions (US, UK, DE, FR, AU, JP, etc.), eBay’s (US, UK, DE, FR, AU, JP, etc.), and more. Imagine having 50 of a specific product to sell; say, a bicycle. Without a channel management system, you would need to list, say, 5 bicycles on each of those marketplaces, and then take them down and readjust your quantities on each marketplace every time one sells. If you had to do this all manually, international expansion wouldn’t be sustainable. That’s where channel management comes in – it allows you to list all your products in one central location, and it pushes all quantities to all marketplaces simultaneously. Nice!
  • Shipping: This really goes without saying, but if you’re wanting to ship internationally, you’re going to want the best shipping platform and contracts around. With platforms like ShipStation and ShipWorks, and shipment services like DHL, FedEx, UPS, USPS, and more, you have plenty of options when it comes to shipping affordably.
  • Inventory & Warehouse Management: As cool as channel management is, it’s impossible to accurately maintain your quantities and attributes without a robust inventory & warehouse management system. Companies like the cloud-based SkuVault utilize barcoding and locations to ensure that the quantities in your warehouse are accurately reflected on your various marketplaces in real time. This helps to prevent oversells, improve warehouse efficiency, and reduce human error. It also integrates with channel management platforms like ChannelAdvisor, shipping solutions like ShipStation and ShipWorks, eCommerce platforms and marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Bigcommerce, Volusion, Magento, and more.
  • Finances & Localization: This is something World First can help with – call and get access to great exchange rates.

International eCommerce: worth it

Like anything, success in eCommerce requires a certain amount of research and planning. With the right tools, selling online can be a viable means of expanding your customer base and increasing your sales.