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What Is an Online Retail Business?

11 min read

When most entrepreneurs think about increasing the reachability of their business, they do so by dreaming up how to inform more people about their products through the internet. Indeed, taking the retail business online is profitable. It is also an easy way to start promoting products that you are passionate about as a business owner/entrepreneur.

Part of any merchant’s online business efforts would be to let the general public know what the business has to offer, their prices, and how long it takes them to ship. The vast number of online retail businesses such as Zulily or Amazon are proof that people no longer consider the brick and mortar store the only place to shop for what they want.

In this light, Ecwid offers a great solution as a reliable ecommerce platform with highly effective ways of bolstering online retail businesses- whatever product you sell or service you offer. In this article, we will discuss what exactly an online retail business is, and other helpful information that relates to opening and running an online retail business.

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The Definition of Online Retail Business

The term “online retail business” implies a business process in which customers have a plethora of options in searching for, selecting, and purchasing products, information, and services over the internet. Most retailers sell their goods online, and this explains why online retail business is simply a form of electronic commerce that enables consumers to buy goods or services or shop directly from their phones, tabs, laptops, or other internet-connected devices anywhere in the world.

Retail Businesses and Categories

According to the National Retail Federation, there are about 4.2 million retail establishments in the U.S. ranging from gas stations to stores, restaurants, salons, auto mechanics, among others. Retail businesses have up to 52 million people in employment, and this makes retail the country’s largest employer in the private sector.

A retail sale is a situation where a product or service is sold to a consumer for use. There are many ways through which this transaction can take place- including sales channels such as brick-and-mortar stores, online, direct mail, or through direct sales. What qualifies a retail business as a retail transaction is the position of the buyer as the end-user.

The four major retail business categories are:

  1. Food products, such as meat, produce, baked goods, and/or cheese
  2. Soft goods or consumables including shoes, toiletries, and clothing
  3.  Big-ticket items such as appliances, furniture, cars, and other things that have a long life span
  4. Art, such as books, canvas paintings, jewelry, and more.

Within these four categories, there are different retail stores niches that you can consider venturing into. The most common of these include department stores, discount stores, big box stores, e-tailers, mom-and-pop stores, warehouse stores.

Setting Up An Online Retail Business

Truthfully, starting a physical storefront costs a lot of money upfront. You have to put in upfront payments on things like inventory, rent, utilities, among others. Imagine putting so much into a brick-and-mortar business in this current economic landscape. Talk about unpredictable! This level of volatility means that it often makes less sense for any aspiring entrepreneur to operate in this way. An online retail business, therefore, comes in handy here as a viable, lower-cost alternative. Oftentimes, online businesses can build on early successes by eventually opening an in-person operation, as opposed to the other way around.

In other words, these days, a lack of capacity to afford a retail space is not the end of the world. It also should not be the end of your dream business. All you have to do is turn the attention to the right direction, especially where the startup and operation costs of a retail business are only a meager fraction of what you would spend to set up a physical store. Therefore, strikingly, cost-effectiveness is a major contributory factor in this case.

For online retail business: boutique as a case study

Boutiques are likely to do well online because of the little market they attend to. It makes a lot of sense to set up an online boutique that offers consumers products such as jewelry, lingerie, baby gear, or wedding gowns. This type of store can encounter high levels of interest and patronage because of the leverage of presenting your target and prospects their goods instead of competing with the likes of Zulily or Zappo.

More interestingly, there are various ways to find suppliers and vendors. You can also determine the best buying options depending on your starting inventory budget.

All the same, you have the opportunity to explore as many dropshipping partnerships as possible. These can keep your customers with you until they make a purchase. Now, having made these vital decisions at the start, you can get your store up and running by contracting with Ecwid- an affordable and complete ecommerce solution package.

You will then get everything you need to make the business successful. These things include a storefront that you can customize to your taste and interests, marketing tools, inventory management, and payment processing.

Why Choose Online Retail?

Growing a retail business online has great benefits for aspiring merchants, some of which are:

  • Minimal overhead
  • Easy access to a direct to the consumer market
  • Maximum growth potential
  • Ability to expand your market overtime
  • Customers satisfaction in terms of ease of use and easy shipping
  • Customers ability to find your business even if it’s local
  • The ability to have lower inventory levels (and therefore costs) upfront

Point of Sale with Ecwid

As an online retailer, you may be asking yourself: how do I actually go about making a sale? The answer transcends the traditional method of customers bringing what they bought to a cash register where the total cost is tallied and ringed up.

Ecommerce platforms like Ecwid provide the online equivalent of a seamless self-check-out lane. This method can be a boon to any online retail business. The idea with an online point of sale is that your customers can look through their cart of items, scan for any missing thing, and check out with their card or cash.

Simply put, your customers can buy from your online shop just by clicking on the selected products, and typing in their card information to validate the sale.

Things You Need To Succeed in Online Retail Business

Product or service descriptions and their prices: Do not overlook this, because it is one of the basics. An easy-to-read and easy-to-find product or service description with their fees is a crucial element of a successful website.

A name for your store, location, and contact details: Since you are taking the business online, there is no need for a physical address. Meanwhile, you must provide other information including phone number, email, among others. You certainly do not want to confuse your customers in this age of overwhelming information. Your ability to give them what they want and proffer prompt solutions to their problems will guarantee that you have them for a long time.

Visual display of products or services: Ensure you provide visuals or images of your products and services. That way, you can communicate a vast amount of information to your customers and provide them with a seamless way to evaluate if they have found what they wanted or needed.

Other things are unambiguous ordering processes, specific product lines, policies, and warranties (if any).

Some Final Thoughts

The single reason many internet businesses record wild success is because of their target audience. Their shoppers are not particularly interested in some fireworks, a bunch of whistles, or fascinating designs before they make a buying decision. Most times, online shoppers only want to find the products they want and can do that in a jiffy. Hence, there is a great deal of success attributed to the online retail business.

One of the obstacles you will face as a business owner is your unfamiliarity with the process of how an online retail business works and what it entails. But in this article, we have discussed what it connotes and the pros of venturing into the business. We also looked at ways to establish a viable online retail business, especially with an admirably superb ecommerce solution like Ecwid. We hope the information suffices to help you decide and take the next giant step in your business.

Would you like to increase the presence of your business online? Choosing online retail is a promising way to grow wealth. Moreover, success is achievable within the domain.

Do you want to learn more about launching a retail business?

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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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