Today, eCommerce has been more than a decade old now. But if we travel back to history, it all started in 1995, when our largest online retailer store had started its journey just being an online bookstore. Though it started in 1995, yet it took a lot of time to get adopted by the common mass. Let’s mesmer￼ise our childhood today: I remember, years back when I had my school farewell party, I was highly excited. Thrilled about the idea of being free from the clutches of school uniform, and exhilarated to wear fancy clothes in school. I prowled around the streets of Jaipur, in search of an elegant saree, and finally found one. But the story didn’t end here instead, the real struggle began now. I started hopping from shop to shop to purchase the matching earrings, bracelet, hair clips, and the toughest being the footwear. Eventually, after a week, I was ready to attend the party. For me, going to the shops was great; but walking through a crowded area, not finding what I had imagined at first, and then ending up buying something only to find it cheaper at the store next door, was annoying.
Now let’s compare this to the current scenario. We scroll down our phones, check four different websites and in just one click, we are all decked up from tip to toe. This is the power of eCommerce. But now let’s come to one big question: Are we getting the concept of e-commerce right?
Shift in the Shopping Trend
You might be wondering, what could be the “Big Bang Theory” behind eCommerce. It’s a piece of cake. You scroll down your phone, place the order, make the payment, and Ta-Dumm...you have the product at your doorstep. But let me break it to you. There is something more to it. eCommerce can be categorized into a Marketplace model and an Inventory based model. Let’s demystify them one by one:
Marketplace Model: Some classic examples of this model are eBay, Naaptol, Shopclues, etc. who strictly adhere to the model of zero inventory. These are platforms that enable a large, fragmented base of buyers and sellers to discover price and transact with one another in an environment that is efficient and transparent. These are difficult to execute as it requires high liquidity on the buyer-seller side but once the liquidity is formed, the flywheel is spinning. Though they are scalable, profitable, and highly valued yet you would never have full control over the money that you earn. Undoubtedly, they provide an excellent interface to the sellers but they have several irons in the fire. They wouldn’t ever prioritize your products, the only priority would be their heavy commissions. A retailer is always presented with the overwhelming advantages of the above model however, it comes with a wide range of downsides. This doesn’t mean that the small retailers should confine themselves only to the offline stores. Let’s check the alternatives and by the end of the blog, you would be ready with the tool which would help you set up and run your online store quickly and cost- effectively.
Result of eCommerce Marketplace
Inventory Led Model: This is a model where a single vendor sells his products and services to multiple customers through his online presence. Let’s understand this by a very simple example. A few months back, I had a chance to visit Delhi and had this hankering of eating Chola Bhatura. There were a ton of 5-star restaurants, all decked up with beautiful cutlery and ready to serve a variety of delicacies. But I chose to visit Haldirams and was highly content. Because for me, Chola Bhatura in Delhi is defined by Haldirams. They might not have the pop and show off a 5-star restaurant but the control over the taste and quality is unbeatable. This product differentiation is what makes the brand stand out from the crowd. Similarly, in an inventory led model, you can have the same control over your online store as you have in the offline mode. Let’s look at some of the best tools that would help you bring your business online:
- Shopify: It has everything that you need to sell online. It helps independent business owners sell online and in-person. Shopify is a hosted platform, an inclusive software through which you can easily build your online website even if you do not carry any technical knowledge. Although, even those with a coding background prefer to use Shopify to minimise technical labour and focus their efforts on selling and marketing their products.
- Magneto: An open-source eCommerce platform that provides comprehensive selling solutions along with a segmented approach towards the customers. Other platforms only allow you to sell online but Magneto allows you to focus on your target market based on gender, location, purchase history, etc and sell efficiently. In very simple words, Magneto helps create a personalised shopping experience for all of your customers.
- Wix: If you are looking for a feature rich eCommerce builder without giving up creative control over your brand and storefront, then Wix is the ideal solution for you. Through Wix, you can easily combine the intuitive editing tools with an eCommerce functionality for a well-rounded online shopping experience for your customers. It is a WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET website builder which makes it unique among all the tools.
- Baaz: In my childhood, I used to wonder what if I do not have to hop from shop to shop to decorate my wardrobe. Instead, in my comfort zone, I could just place the orders after checking out the product live, and I get them delivered at my doorstep. Baaz gave wings to my imagination. Just in a single click, you can set up your online presence and sell the products to the customers through live videos. Be it adding the products, order processing, payment collection, live chat, customer support; none of these things should have you tearing your hair out. It is the perfect combination of convenience of online and the trust of offline.
Abraham Lincoln had said, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” To proceed with any great idea, it is very important to have the right set of tools to implement it. Similarly, your choice of eCommerce model would play a very important role in determining the success of your business.