E-commerce (electronic commerce) is a business sales channel that refers to the buying and selling of products and services over the Internet. E-commerce covers a broad range of activities, including shopping online, performing banking services such as deposits and payments via the Internet, and exchanging data and information to support these activities.

Blog: Warehouse Technologies to Consider NOW Before Your Next Peak Season

The world’s first e-commerce company was launched in 1982 when the Boston Computer Exchange (BCE) created an online marketplace for people to buy and sell used computers. The launch of BCE predates the advent of the World Wide Web, and because of this, the company operated on a dial-up bulletin board system.¹

Since then, e-commerce as a retail sales channel has experienced steady growth, with the most explosive growth occurring in response to quarantine restrictions put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and consumers buy and sell various products via e-commerce stores. E-commerce also allows businesses to reach a global market and sell their products and services to customers worldwide.

Many retail operations have added e-commerce shopping channel to their other sales channels. Many companies sell products through an omnichannel sales model, which includes brick-and-mortar stores, company-owned e-commerce stores, and third-party e-commerce stores.

Blog: Eight Steps to Prepare Your Omnichannel DC for Peak Season

Warehouse automation solutions have evolved to enable companies to manage order fulfillment for all these channels within a centralized operation.

Benefits of E-commerce

E-commerce has taken off as a sales channel because of the many benefits available to consumers and businesses. For consumers, e-commerce offers the convenience of shopping from the comfort of their computer or mobile phone without the need to visit brick-and-mortar stores. Consumers also have access to a much more comprehensive selection of sellers, products, and services and real-time access to competitive prices.

Forbes: Adopting A Channel-Specific Approach To E-Commerce

E-commerce has allowed businesses to expand into new sales territories very quickly and cost-effectively, without taking on the cost of adding brick-and-mortar stores. E-commerce has also enabled many companies that were formerly focused on domestic sales to tap into a worldwide consumer base.

Types of E-commerce Models

There are several types of e-commerce, including:

  • Business-to-consumer (B2C) refers to e-commerce transactions in which businesses sell products and services to individual consumers.
  • Business-to-business (B2B) refers to e-commerce transactions in which buyers and sellers are businesses.
  • Consumer-to-consumer refers to e-commerce sales between individual consumers, often through online marketplaces such as eBay or Etsy.

How eCommerce websites Differ from Other Types of Websites

An e-commerce platform allows transactions to occur online within the site, whereas other websites do not offer this capability. They are designed primarily to provide information or promote a brand. E-commerce sites are structured to present a “virtual catalog” that allows customers to browse products online, add them to their cart, gain real-time pricing and shipping costs, and purchase them without ever stepping into a physical store.

E-commerce Order Fulfillment Requirements

One of the most critical aspects of building a successful e-commerce business or sales channel is the ability to seamlessly, quickly, and accurately fulfill orders. According to BigCommerce:

  • 61% of shoppers will abandon their cart if shipping, taxes, and other fees are too high.
  • 53% of shoppers say that speed of delivery is an important factor when it comes to evaluating their online orders.
  • 38% of shoppers will never shop with a retailer again if they had a poor delivery experience.
  • 25% of shoppers have canceled an order because of slow delivery speeds.

Additionally, order errors such as mispicks result in dissatisfied customers and financial losses. Research estimates that the costs of miss-picks can drain profits of $400,000 per year from an E-commerce or B2C order fulfillment operation.

Order Fulfillment Technology

Warehouse order fulfillment technology plays a big part in building a successful e-commerce business that fosters customer satisfaction.

Advanced warehouse orchestration software such as Numina Group’s RDS Orchestration and Execution Platform includes automation modules and algorithmic logic that analyzes data to create an optimal fulfillment workflow, taking order volume, throughput requirements, and the processing capabilities of various warehouse technology components and workers’ activities into account.

What is Warehouse Orchestration Automation?

The RDS Orchestration Platform manages and optimizes order fulfillment flow across the operation, uniting processes, people, and material handling technologies into a single solution that delivers 99.9% order accuracy and up-to-the-minute visibility into operation performance and order throughput.

Learn More

Product: RDS Order Fulfillment Automation Suite
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