E-Commerce

Your Complete Guide to E-Commerce – 2022

E-Commerce: With the advent of the new millennium, many concepts have shifted and many modern trends have emerged that have changed the style of work and commerce upside down, and perhaps the most prominent of these changes is E-Commerce. Entering the world of e-commerce and establishing an online store is no longer a luxury requirement, but rather an urgent necessity if you want to create a successful project and compete in the labor market.

What is E-Commerce

The concept of electronic commerce (E-Commerce, eCommerce, or Electronic Commerce) refers to a business system that relies on the Internet and smart devices in organizing, controlling, and conducting all commercial transactions, including buying, selling, exchange, and other commercial activities, whether between companies and customers or between customers or companies themselves.

Many entrepreneurs misunderstand what e-commerce is, as they perceive it as being limited to online stores. Although buying and selling online through electronic stores dominates most electronic transactions, the concept of e-commerce is much broader than that.

Where we can include in the list of e-commerce via the Internet, bank transfers, digital financial transactions, electronic data exchange between companies and customers, and others. In other words, any transmission of financial and commercial data and information via electronic devices (smartphones or computers) and by local or global networks (the Internet) is a form of electronic commerce.

A brief overview of the history of e-commerce

It is known that the vast reality of electronic commerce that we live in today is not a product of yesterday and did not appear overnight. Rather, it was the result of accumulated efforts over many decades, since the sixties of the last century. Here is a quick breakdown of the most prominent historical stations of electronic commerce:

  • 1960: The concept of E-Commerce dates back to its early spread to the invention of digital information exchange techniques (Electronic Data Interchange or EDI), as humanity began to rely on the exchange of information digitally through simple and complex electronic devices at the time, replacing fax and traditional emails, making the intervention Human in these mechanisms of communication as little as possible.
  • 1972: The first digital sale. Students from Stanford University surreptitiously sell products – said to be a type of narcotic – to students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) through the Arpanet; Or what was known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, which is said to be the bedrock on which the Internet was later built.
  • 1979: Michael Aldrich, a British inventor, succeeded in conducting the first rudimentary e-commerce process by connecting a modified television with the computer that specialized in money transfers via a regular telephone cable.
  • 1994: The year that recorded the first true online sale, by young entrepreneur Dan Kohn, in August of 1994, he launched his own website (NetMarket) and sold the first CD in human history online through that site. The purchase was made via a credit card and was protected by encrypted technology.
  • 1995: This year Amazon was launched, as a company specializing in first selling books on the Internet, and then AuctionWeb – now known as the famous eBay site – as the first online auction site.
  • 1998: PayPal was launched as the first digitally certified money transfer tool, which turned e-commerce worldwide with all classes of individuals into a reality.
  • 1999: The popular Alibaba website was launched and established itself as one of the major players in the e-commerce market during its early years.
  • 2004: Support for digital transformation security and transition to a very high level of protection; This was done through the establishment of the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, which supported the confidence of customers around the world in the concept of buying and selling online.

After that, the wheel of development started at an accelerating rate that it is hardly possible to track the big leaps in this promising field, and hundreds or even thousands of international companies have appeared that have adopted the Internet and e-commerce as one of the mainstays in their launch in the labor market, and perhaps Amazon and Alibaba, the two e-commerce giants, are the best evidence On the importance of e-commerce in imposing the brand and winning customers at the local and global levels.

Exciting statistics about e-commerce

After this quick review, there are some numbers and statistics that justify the necessity of adopting e-commerce in your next project, which will clearly show that the future of commerce is digital par excellence:

  • The number of people who rely on the Internet to purchase their needs has reached 2 billion users by 2021, and this number represents 25% of the people in the world. This statistic is enough to entice any entrepreneur to adopt e-commerce in any project he launches.
  • The value of online purchases by the end of 2021 has reached about $4.8 billion globally, which is a huge number if we think about it carefully, and what is more interesting is that experts expect it to double over the next few years.
  • Experts predict that 95% of the world’s purchases will be online by 2040.
  • In 2021, online purchases amounted to approximately 18.1% of total purchases in the world; This means that one out of every five purchases is made online, and this strongly indicates the number of opportunities that entrepreneurs miss out on e-commerce.
  • Comparison between e-commerce and traditional

You must be wondering, should we move from traditional commerce to e-commerce? Don’t they both serve the same purpose? Customer benefit and profit? What is the difference between e-commerce and traditional that might push you to adopt an online store for your next project?

In fact, there are vast and many differences that tip the scales in favor of e-commerce. We will clarify these differences in light of four basic elements, namely:

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E-Commerce

First: cost and profit

When we put the cost criterion on the table, e-commerce outperforms its traditional counterpart by a vast difference. Traditional commerce needs huge capital in order to be able to open your own store and buy a stock of goods, without mentioning the additional operating costs, such as water and electricity bills, labor wages, taxes, and storage costs. products and more.

On the other hand, all you need to launch your online store is to create an online store, and the matter has become much simpler than you imagine, especially with the emergence of content management platforms such as WordPress, which enabled entrepreneurs to establish their own store in a few steps.

Second: scalability

If you want to develop your traditional commerce then you need to allocate a large dose of effort, time, money, and possibly a long list of formal transactions, whereas in e-commerce all you have to do is develop your subscription or host your website and you will be able to serve more customers.

Third: Appropriateness

There are many customers who prefer to take their time, research and compare products and services to choose the most suitable option for them, and accomplishing this task on the ground in traditional commerce requires physical movement from one store to another, while the customer can compare products in electronic stores very quickly and effectively and from his home, There is no need to go out and search for the best option and everything is in his hands.

Fourth: Geographical area and accessibility

If you want to transfer your trade from your city to other cities in your country, you must have an idea of ​​the great effort that is required, so how to transfer your trade to the global arena? You will need huge capital and professional management teams to get it done.

On the other hand, e-commerce has completely eliminated the word “boundaries” from the dictionary. There are no geographic borders that limit you at all. You can launch your store in the local and global market with a simple effort. All you need is distinguished products and a unique marketing method, and you will find your project has broken the borders of your country and painted your brand. Global Boom.

The importance of e-commerce

Why e-commerce? A legitimate question on the minds of many during the journey of deciding to adopt this new strategy in trade. Although the decision has become very clear nowadays, many people are still hesitant and afraid to take it seriously, and perhaps knowing the advantages of e-commerce and the advantages and tremendous opportunities it offers will resolve the matter for you. We can summarize the benefits of e-commerce in the following broad lines:

  • No geographical limits: meaning that you can expand or even reduce your business whenever you want to new markets with minimal effort and financial resources, and with simple steps that any user can accomplish.
  • No physical presence required: one of the most prominent features of e-commerce. Where you do not need a physical presence for your store to start your business, you can simply create your own online store by importing, storing, and displaying products in your online store so that you send them to customers directly as soon as they purchase them through your online store.
  • No time restrictions: Perhaps this is one of the most prominent advantages of e-commerce; Where customers can shop in your online store at any time, as if your store is available 24/7 – that is, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week – unlike traditional stores that restrict you to specific working hours.
  • Efficiency: Building your online store and organizing and adjusting automatic ordering enables you to meet more customers without the need to expand your team or store capabilities. Of course, you may need to expand the hosting and size of your site with the expansion and growth of customers.
  • Flexibility: It consists of two points; The first is the ability to automatically archive all sales and purchases, adjust them and reduce errors, and the second is comprehensive control over all the items in your store, from products to ads, to the people responsible for certain sections of the store and more.
  • Statistics and targeted marketing: Through e-commerce, you can save your customers’ activities, likes, and dislikes in your store, and build a rating and comment system so that you can see their reactions, comments, and ratings of your products, which enables you to improve and develop your business to satisfy your customers.

In addition to the possibility of investing in what is known as Upselling and Cross-Selling in marketing your store products in an effective manner and ensuring a greater number of purchases.

  • Improving the customer experience UX: Let’s put aside the fact that today’s customers tend to everything that is digital and computerized, and mention the great prospects that e-commerce opens for you in terms of improving the customer experience in your store, for example, you can adopt video marketing, motion graphics, infographics and image marketing Customizing ads so that they are targeted to exactly what the customer is looking for.

Types of E-Commerce

Although e-commerce in its general sense refers to the buying and selling operations via the Internet, smart devices of various forms and types, and the parties involved in them, there is a detail of the types of e-commerce that must be known and understood in order to be able to appropriately customize your online store, and build a good business strategy on Long-term. Types of e-commerce include the following items:

  • B2B company trading: in which companies sell their products or services to another company that processes these products and converts them to other products and sells them, or they may sell the same products but in another region, for example, the agencies of international companies spread in several countries.
  • B2C business: It is the traditional business relationship that prevails in most businesses, in which companies sell their products to customers, either directly or through retail stores or electronic stores for entrepreneurs that do justice to small projects.
  • Customer-to-customer (C2C) trade: in which the relationship is direct between one customer and another so that one sells to the other a specific product or service, and under this category, the sale of used tools (second hand) and some types of freelancing.
  • C2B Customer Business: In this category, a customer or individual sells their product, which is often a pioneering invention, in exchange for a sum of money or dividends from the sale of the product.

In our article, we will focus on the first two types because they constitute the largest percentage of both e-commerce and traditional operations.

E-commerce guide for beginners

Now in order to be able to build a solid foundation for your next business, it is necessary to learn the basics of e-commerce, understand its terminology, know its fields and conditions, and then choose among the e-commerce methods that suit you, as it is not possible to adopt all types of commerce in one successful project.

First, the basics of e-commerce

Knowing these basics and employing and investing them correctly represents a difference between overwhelming success and dismal failure, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the characteristics that we will mention to you well. The characteristics of e-commerce are represented in the following points:

  1. Successful management

If you are planning to hire some people to organize your online store and customer service and you want to directly manage your online store, then you should learn the foundations of successful management, and our article: The Art of Successful Management will be a great guide to achieving this.

  1. Good investment

If you are setting aside a certain amount as an initial investment for your online store, you have to be wise in allocating it. You have to prioritize your online store and harness your initial investment to build it well, for example: Choosing a reputable and reliable hosting site with various subscription plans has priority over expanding the range of products you will launch your store with, you can do the second later.

  1. Continuous follow-up and monitoring of development

Knowing which strategies have worked and which tools have worked well and which have not, is an essential step in rapidly developing your store. Many e-store owners adopt a particular tool or action plan in their store and do not monitor its results, and they end up draining human and financial resources without development or significant profits. Knowing the success of a particular plan and developing or replacing it in a timely manner is the basis for the success of any online store.

  1. Employing professional professionals

If you want to stand out in the labor market, all elements of your store must be professional, and you cannot achieve this without professional personnel, whether at the level of technical support, customer follow-up, product management team, marketing team, and other elements of the success of any business project.

  1. Good planning

Continuous change is “unhealthy” behavior in business projects, the action plan must be clear and the goals precisely defined, as well as the strategies to achieve those goals. So, if you want a strong start and maintain an increased level of success, you should develop a solid business plan, for example: investigate your competitors and study the market for the products you want to compete in through your store. All of this will show you the appropriate strategy to launch your store.

  1. Give priority to the customer

“The customer is always right” should be the prevailing principle in your store. Customers, in general, tend to be loyal to a particular store from which they constantly buy their requirements, so they constantly provide their feedback on shipping and servicing methods and the quality of products, and when they come across a store or brand that appreciates those opinions, they turn into customers. Loyal to it, and this is one of the main goals that you should keep in mind in your overall store business strategy.

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E-Commerce

Second: e-commerce terms

Many enthusiastic entrepreneurs get lost in the whirlpool of great enthusiasm to start an e-commerce project quickly and miss the strong start that will impose their presence in the labor market in a short time. This error is caused by not having enough knowledge about what e-commerce requirements and skills they should keep in mind during the planning stage. As for the terms of e-commerce, we mention:

  • The possibility of securing a stable and reliable source of supply: if you plan to offer products imported from outside your country. Meeting customer requests on time is a gold standard that should never be taken lightly.
  • Presence of a warehouse or warehouse: It finds that it meets the storage conditions of the products you plan to import. This part is important if you plan to make orders in your store instant, meaning that the customer does not have to wait after ordering the product for the order to be prepared for him from the parent factory, then ship it and finally deliver it to him. However, if you want a simple start to your project, you can dedicate a room in your house to store the products that you plan to display in your store.
  • Conducting legal papers and transactions in your country: Many Arab countries have adopted laws related to e-commerce projects, and you must read this list of laws before launching your project.

While the e-commerce skills are represented in the following outlines:

  • management skill
  • Decision-making and problem-solving skills
  • Data collection and analysis skill (market analysis skill)
  • Negotiation skill
  • Marketing skill
  • programming skill

Third: E-commerce fields

There are many areas that you can start with, and choosing the appropriate field depends on two main elements, the first is the market demand and the need for that field, and the second element is your personal preference and desire.

Always make sure to choose the field that you tend to and that has the potential for present and future success at the local levels in your country and globally, you do not know, that your store may reach the global arena if you do well in planning and implementation.

There are dozens of fields in e-commerce, and the following are some of the most prominent areas of e-commerce that have a promising future at the level of the Arab world and globally.

  1. Online Stores

This includes products of all kinds and areas in the labor market, and some of the most prevalent trends in our Arab world now are stores specialized in devices, electronic accessories, and beauty products.

  1. Software as a Service SaaS

The job market for this field has grown exponentially over the past few years to reach $157 billion between 2014-20. Software as a Service refers to any software or service that customers can use through your site, by choosing one of your subscription plans. The most prominent examples of this field are Microsoft Office 365 and DropBox at the global level and the Ana platform at the level of our Arab world.

  1. Freelance platform

You can establish your own website for self-employment, which is an important field of e-commerce, as you trade here with professional services, as your site plays the role of an intermediary between project owners who want to hire people to complete certain works and independent individuals who carry out those works, for example, specific profits that your site has a certain percentage of.

Fourth: How to profit from e-commerce

Perhaps the more accurate question here is: Can you make good profits from just a website that doesn’t really exist? Is it up to the level of profits achieved through traditional trade? In fact, the answer to both questions is 100% yes. Of course, it takes good investment and planning.

Profit in online stores is not limited to selling products or services to customers only, but there are other sources that you will soon find that bring you an income that increases your level of profits, and may reach or sometimes even exceed the profits of the same sales. Among the ways to earn money through the online store, we mention:

  • Sales operations: It is the traditional natural way to profit from electronic stores.
  • Ads: where you can subscribe to Google Ads services and place sponsored ads within your site, and for every click that customers make on these ads, Google pays you a sum of money.
  • Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is another distinct area for earning profits, as you can agree with other sites or even online stores to display the content of their sites or products within your store in an attractive advertising manner, in exchange for allocating specific profits that are paid to you.
  • Subscriptions: You can include a subscription feature in your store, where customers pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee for accessing certain content or offers within your store, which are not available to regular customers.

Steps to Getting Started in E-Commerce

The steps of the detailed work differ according to the field of e-commerce that you will choose, and we will review the following outlines that will help you to establish your business well, whatever field you will choose:

First, prepare a clear action plan

The business plan includes determining the customer base that you will target from your products or services and the types of products that you will adopt in your store, in addition to analyzing the labor market and the extent of demand for the product, and the intensity of competitors for it. In other words, the amount of supply and demand.

The identification of suppliers and storage methods as well as the legal paperwork in your country also fall under this step. During this stage, ask yourself these two essential questions:

  • What makes your store stand out from other competing stores?
  • Why might customers choose your store over dozens of other options?

Second: Build your online store

The main point that you must bear in mind at this stage is to choose the type of online store you want, do you want to display your products via a global store, or you want to customize your personal store via CMS.

Make sure that you leave plenty of space for your store personalization so that customers browsing your store will have a different experience than your competitors. Make sure that the products in your store are clearly arranged and categorized, as well as include some tools that support customer browsings, such as a cart, chatbots, targeted offers, coupons, and more.

Third: Build a solid marketing plan

After fully establishing your store and attaching products and services, you can jump to the marketing stage, which will be the engine that will launch your store, as any business without a good marketing plan will not compete at all.

You can rely on various marketing strategies, both digital and traditional. Any means that will lead to the publicity of your store and gain more customers must be invested well.

Fourth: Follow a Strategy: Track, Analyze, and Optimize

There is no perfect strategy for all types of e-commerce, so you should always monitor customer evaluations of the quality of your products, which products or services have the largest sales ratios and which ones you struggle to sell, and follow customer reviews and ratings about your products, shipping method, payment, delivery and return service and others.

Try to develop a work methodology that satisfies customers and increases your profits or keeps them at a minimum, and if there are weaknesses in the way your store works or its marketing strategy, there is no harm in some changes or improvements, and the last advice is to keep pace with the latest modern trends in everything related to E-commerce in your field of specialization.

As mentioned earlier, there are two basic strategies for building your online store, namely: establishing your own website and developing your own independent store on that website or displaying your products and services within a micro-store on popular e-commerce platforms, such as Amazon and eBay. Whatever your choice, the question you will soon encounter is: How do I choose the right platform?

Although there are dozens of options available to you, some platforms have dominated the competition market, forcing many to adopt them to establish their online stores, for example, we mention the most famous e-commerce sites WooCommerce and Big Commerce for store content management platforms, and Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba for For online stores where you can display your products.

The selection of the appropriate platform depends on some criteria, the most prominent of which are:

Ease of setting up the store: Most entrepreneurs do not have enough technical expertise to go into the software details, and hiring professionals in this field takes time and money.

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So the best option, if you want to establish your store in a few steps, is to establish a micro-store through the famous online stores, such as Amazon, followed by establishing your store through content management platforms, such as WooCommerce, and finally programming your own site from scratch.

  • Cost and profits: We are not saying here that platforms that allow you to establish your store quickly and at a low cost are the best, but you should investigate the possibility of developing your store and other criteria, if it is available on two platforms in which you are confused, then you should choose the platform that requires a lower initial investment.
  • Flexibility: We mean the ease of customizing the store and its ease of use (User Friendly), adding and modifying products, in addition to providing options that facilitate customer browsing and purchasing of products, such as the ability to display pictures and videos of products, diversity of payment methods and other customization options.
  • Support: You may often encounter some technical and technical issues that affect the work of your store, and they can be disastrous at times, and you need a quick solution with them. In this case, either you hire a specialist in the field of websites to solve this problem, or you assign the support team for the platform, and of course, the second option will be better and more economical.
  • Scalability: An important feature to keep in mind is the ease of expanding your store, especially as customers move in and orders become more pressured. Some platforms are superior to others in this aspect.
  • Security level: Perhaps the most important criterion, no matter how popular your store is and no matter how many customers it attracts, a single hack can erase everything and destroy customers’ trust in your store and its level of security. So make sure that the platform is known to have a high level of security, and that hacks and vulnerabilities are very rare.

Any platform that meets most or all of these criteria is a suitable option for setting up your own store on it. But in general, if you want some privacy in customizing and expanding your store, you should use content management platforms, such as WooCommerce. If you want to establish a simple store quickly and do not mind sacrificing part of your profit margin and limited options for customization and expansion, you can go to famous stores, such as Amazon and eBay, and sell your products within them.

e-commerce challenges

Despite the great potential of e-commerce, there are still many obstacles that must be overcome to reach the promising future that experts envision in 2040, which is the control of e-commerce on 95% of commercial operations worldwide. We can formulate these challenges in the following points:

  1. Uncertainty

There is a degree of ambiguity surrounding the future of e-commerce, despite the statistics that promise overwhelming success in the coming decades, but the fact that the inability to interact directly with products and sellers, in addition to the difficulties and costs of shipping and others, remains an obstacle to e-commerce reaching full success.

  1. Excessive expectations

As customers move from the physical world to the exciting digital world, the expectations and demands of these customers have increased, and it has become difficult for entrepreneurs to meet these demands while maintaining satisfactory profits.

For example, customers have come to expect free shipping, free refunds, and product returns, in addition to an integrated customer support service, diversity of payment methods, and other things that require additional allocation of both financial and human resources.

  1. Fierce competition

Because the launch of an online store has become available to almost everyone, the competition has become at its height, hundreds and even thousands of electronic stores are filled with the Internet and very little space for competition, which made launching and succeeding in a new online store for novice entrepreneurs difficult, but of course not impossible.

  1. Possible security risks

Everything related to the digital world is at risk of penetration, and this has created an obsession for many entrepreneurs who want to enter the world of e-commerce. How not while you are making your project safe, as well as the details of your customers, linked to a particular website that may be vulnerable to hacking by hackers – or what is known as hackers – and the history is full of massive digital thefts of huge banks and electronic stores.

But with the great development in security software and algorithms, all of these fears have become unjustified, and the fear of hacking and stealing your online store data has become like someone who is waiting for a damaged satellite to fall over his home among the millions of homes on our planet.

Golden Tips in E-Commerce

With the end of our comprehensive guide on e-commerce approaching, some golden tips are necessary, which will be of great benefit to you in order to successfully start your first e-commerce project and surpass thousands of competitors, in simple steps and in a short period of time. Among the success factors of e-commerce, we mention:

  • Personalization of e-commerce: We mean all the strategies that would make the experience of customers shopping for your store a unique experience, starting from customizing the list of suggested products for customers and offers that they may be interested in, to targeting advertisements and providing options for adjusting the prices of products according to the country of the customer, With a wide choice of payment, shipping, and other methods.
  • Follow the principles of SEO for your store: SEO is a cornerstone of any website, and your online store is no exception. If you want to attract more customers and earn more profits, you must climb the ladder of search results and appear on the first pages of them, and this requires knowledge and application of the principles of search engine optimization on your site or hiring a specialist to accomplish this.
  • Using Digital Marketing: Digital marketing is the language of the modern era, and without it, you will not be able to compete strongly in the labor market. Digital marketing includes social media marketing, email marketing, affiliate marketing, influencer marketing, and other types of e-marketing.
  • Adoption of User Generated Content: It is intended to customize your store or space to display the ratings and opinions of customers who are satisfied with the experience of one of your products or services, either in the form of posts in a private forum within the site or in the form of comments on product pages or through videos Or photos that show customers’ happiness and satisfaction with your company or store.

Hiring e-commerce experts

If you do not want to go into the details of how to create an online store, whether, through content management platforms or popular online stores, you can simply hire a specialist. Where can you find the right person for the job? The answer is quite simply through freelance platforms.

Our age is the age of digitization par excellence, and keeping pace with modern developments is a gold standard for the success of any pioneering business project. Your adoption of e-commerce projects will be a qualitative leap, and the statistics strongly indicate the dominance of this pioneering field over the areas of global trade during the next two decades, so if you want to enter the market vigorously and compete, this is the best time for that, there are many golden opportunities, do not miss it.

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RAMI

Hello there, my name is Rami, I have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and I have experience in technology, I love blogging and I work in digital marketing.

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