An e-commerce business journey begins with an understanding of the 4 pillars of e-commerce. These pillars are the critical success factors of any starting or growing e-commerce business. These pillars are electronic store, logistics, digital marketing and payment gateway.
An e-commerce business is driven by these pillars that act as the foundation of its existence. These e-commerce pillars are like the posts that provide strength to a bridge enabling it to support travelers. Absence of any of these said pillars and the e-commerce business will not function properly much like the bridge analogy. The strength of any e-commerce business is not measure by the overall strength of the pillars altogether but the strength of the weakest pillar. It is similar to a supply chain principle where the overall strength is as strong as its weakest link – like a chain breaking on the weakest chain link.
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E-commerce is called as such due to this unique characteristic differentiating them from traditional brick and mortar stores. An electronic store is a marketing channel, platform or tool that is hosted electronically where for merchants can showcase their products or service for which consumer transactions can be generated electronically without physical interaction.
The most common electronic store used in e-commerce is websites. This kind of electronic store is best known for electronic shopping carts where users are allowed to place items. Most of the time, it remembers these items for a predetermined length of time until the items are checked out for payment. Examples of such in the Philippines are Lazada, Zalora, Metrodeal, Cebu Pacific, Lamudi, Carmudi, OLX, and Zipmatch.
Some E-Commerce Websites from UPOU Introduction to E-Commerce are:
Another form of electronic stores is based on social media platforms more prominently on Instagram and Facebook. This kind of electronic store follows the specific features of each social media platform. Like for Facebook stores, it can act similar to websites since it can have integrated carts that automate the selling process. In Instagram, there aren’t any e-commerce capabilities thus all transactions are conducted online. The benefit in using social media shops is the relationship and trust. Customers are still reluctant to purchase via websites due to fraud and security concerns. The communications lines that a social media has between the seller and customers provide addresses the said concerns. With big user base of such social media platforms, customers are easy to find. The drawback, arguably, in social media based stores are the level of control. Entrepreneurs are at the mercy of the platforms. Examples of such stores, who happen to be University of the Philippine Open University Introduction to Electronic Commerce Alumni, are listed in these links:
- Half the Price by Ricca Cruz-Del Rosario
- Velo Store PH by Marj Calingo
- JMR Travel Center by AJ Ramiscal
You can also have an e-commerce business without the need to actually have an electronic store. One can just post their products in e-commerce marketplaces such as Amazon, Lazada, OLX, eBay and other smaller marketplaces. This kind of e-commerce piggy backs on famous marketplaces where traffic and purchases are huge. Analogously, this is similar to distributing products via big retailers such as SM and Robinsons Department Stores. This time, products are listed in marketplaces.
Another electronic store could be made via Mobile Applications downloadable in Google Playstore, iOS marketplace and Microsoft apps. While this is a feasible alternative, the Philippines’ adoption to mobile shopping via apps is still not that big. This mostly applies to super niche products and services done by software applications.
Another form of e-commerce that is emerging in developed countries is Omnichannels. These kinds of e-commerce are the combination of all electronic store alternatives with the traditional brick and mortar stores. The difference is the integration between channels. Customers will have seamless experience shopping even if they change the way they shop. E-commerce Omnichannels provide the same information regardless of store (electronic and brick and mortar).