Before we even dive in the advantages and disadvantages of e-commerce, we will rewind the time back to where it all started.
Humanity began as a consumer of its own products. Be it hunting for food, gathering herbs, or making our clothes; it was all done for only ourselves. A time long past, it was before any form of civilisation came along that we had cared only for our most basic needs of food and shelter. This “animalesque” period is more like a seed from which all commerce sprang then a root in itself. Keep reading to find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of E-commerce.
What then is the origin of all today’s e-commerce? Here lies an age-old question to what came first, the egg or the chicken, or in our case – commerce or civilisation? Since science had already solved the mystery of the first hatched chicken (spoilers: the egg came first), we will move towards our part of the equation. Arguably, we could say that the history of commerce is also the history of civilisation. It does not exactly give an answer, but it does shed some light on chronologically the darkest part of our kind. There wasn’t a single society capable of producing every single thing it desired. As we have met some needs, others arose with time. This fundamental principle is precisely what necessitated the trade among each other.
Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Greeks count towards the first recorded to do so. If we fast forward a few thousand years ahead but still stay on the same planet, we will find that our needs and desires are being met globally.
It was not only the start of all e-commerce business but also its grandest beauty.
What Is E-commerce?
Put plainly; e-commerce is to commerce what email is to mail. It is an electronic enhancement and a modernised solution to an old fashioned process. If commerce is a transaction of physically buying or selling goods, e-commerce is its electronic counterpart – selling and buying online.
Making deals has never been easier. E-commerce embodies the spirit of convenience. Whatever your trade might be, and whichever product comes from your labours, you now have the option, or more precisely the power, to exchange it with anyone and for almost anything worldwide from the comforts of your sofa. E-commerce is an indirect product of web development – the modern day craft. Developers create websites using formal computer languages – of which there are many sites used exclusively for online transactions.
What’s an E-commerce Website?
It does not take an Einstein to put two and two together. If we know, or at the very least understand, what e-commerce and websites are then it is a simple matter of understanding what an e-commerce site is. What truly separates them from the rest of the “fishes in the sea” is its internal division based upon the types of business with which it deals.
Inch by a long inch, we are getting closer to a complete transformation of the traditional retail. We are eliminating the need to carry any cash at any given moment, or even to pick up our groceries. In turn, we get more leisure time to spend with our loved ones, a good book, or even a walk in a park instead of the usual walk in a parking lot. In this post, we would like first to dismantle e-commerce and compare it to traditional retail afterwards.
Advantages and Disadvantages of E-commerce
There is an ancient adage which I am sure will sound familiar. It says that a coin has two sides. We are not trying to discuss the morally good or bad, but we would like to discuss the best and the worst that an e-commerce business offers.
Not such a long time ago, people used to travel great distances to meet both their needs and desires. You would make a journey to the Orient if you were in need of spices or silk, or even closer in time to us was travelling abroad if the prices there were lower than in our vicinity. Travelling to acquire goods was eliminated by the surge of e-commerce.
E-commerce is global. That is a whole lot of space which it covers. With the rise of the delivery drones, it is also becoming a lot more convenient than driving to a store, browsing merchandise, waiting in a line, buying a product, and driving all the way back whence you came. Herein lies the power of electronic commerce and its websites. Instead of doing this (mostly) tedious routine day in, day out, you could hop on your phone, browse for nearby shops and restaurants with delivery, and order everything you need.
All of these advantages mostly pertain to your typical homo sapiens consumer. If you are a wise businessperson, it will not take you a long time to see all of these benefits as an opportunity to expand your empire. Once again, e-commerce is global. There is no possible wider audience, at least for the moment.
With a global reach, comes a global access. You can operate and manage your business all the time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year long. In turn, as you can get orders faster, you get to enjoy faster transactions. A true win-win situation if I have ever seen one.
For the third time, e-commerce is a global marketplace. You can order various products and services from nearly anywhere in the world. Sure, you can use e-commerce websites just to order a pepperoni pizza, but imagine how long it would take if you ordered it from across the globe. Of course, you will not be ordering pizza from the polar opposite of your current standing point. As common sense dictates, the farther you and your order are, the longer it takes for it to arrive. This particular disadvantage does not affect services such as content creation, web development or web design, but it does massively affect products with a shorter shelf life.
Even though e-commerce offers a lot more information about a product or a service than traditional retail, it does not allow you to experience any of it before buying.
Another disadvantage that we often see pop up here and there is credit card or identity theft. Although both are severe issues, we could argue that a lot worse could happen the next time you carelessly run over the street to grab that delicious popsicle.
Popsicles melt. While it might not be a direct disadvantage of e-commerce, the delivery of certain products is at the moment cost inefficient. However, we do hope that drones carrying ice cream in little refrigerators will be the next big thing of the future!
E-Commerce Vs. Retail – The Verdict
What a time to be alive. Pizza comes to our doorsteps and groceries carry themselves. Soon we will have flying assistants and delivery bots ready to fly in with our order. On whichever end of the spectrum you might find yourself, be it as a consumer, business, or a provider of services, this age of popping digital trends and technological advances is equally exciting!
Buy and sell, trade and barter; there are no limits to what you can do when your audience takes up a whole planet. E-commerce is not just a fad; it is the future and the consequence of the aforementioned technological advances. As a consumer, you get to pick what you want or need, in whichever colour, shape, or size you desire. As a business, you get to target a global audience and to let your customers speak for your quality honestly.
Traditional retail will not perish, at least not soon. It has its purpose, charms and advantages. In some cases, it is more cost effective while in others it flunks. Even though e-commerce and retail are often contrasted, it does not mean you only have an either-or choice.
Do not let us voice only our opinions, but do help us discuss this topic further in the comment section below!