Millions of eCommerce websites on the internet today represent a wide range of industries, platforms, website types, and business models. Online commerce has witnessed remarkable growth over the years, offering diverse opportunities for businesses to thrive in the digital landscape. Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur venturing into online retail or an established business owner looking to expand your digital presence, understanding the various types of eCommerce websites available is crucial.
By gaining insights into the different types of eCommerce sites, you can make informed decisions and select the right platform that aligns with your business goals and requirements. From traditional online stores to marketplace platforms and subscription-based services, the eCommerce ecosystem offers a multitude of options tailored to cater to specific niches and customer needs. Let’s explore some of the most common types of eCommerce websites, unlocking the potential for success in online business’s vast and dynamic world.
eCommerce Business Models
There are several eCommerce business models, six of which are the most common.
Business-to-business is an eCommerce website established to allow a business to sell products to another business. For example, a company that sells commercial products for manufacturing would create a B2B eCommerce site.
Most people have used business-to-consumer websites to purchase home goods, gifts, clothing, and other consumer items.
Consumer-to-Consumer eCommerce websites generally allow consumers to sell products to other consumers, and Etsy is an excellent example of this. People can also use tools to add C2C eCommerce functionality to their websites.
Sometimes, an individual may have a product to sell to businesses. In this instance, a consumer-to-business website is an ideal solution.
Business-to-administration or business-to-government is less common. This is for businesses that sell products and services to the government or public administrations.
Consumer-to-administration sites are similar to B2As; the difference is that the transactions here are between individuals and government or public agencies.
What Is an eCommerce Website?
An eCommerce website is designed to buy and sell products and services. The website must have certain features to allow people to make purchases, review the available products and services, etc. There is shipping, inventory management, marketing, and more on the back end.
4 Types of eCommerce Websites: Which Is Right for You?
There are four types of eCommerce websites, and each reflects another way of targeting consumers and selling products.
A single-brand or single-vendor eCommerce site is a dedicated website that allows one business to sell its products. There are no third parties involved. Although people who develop sites to sell their products may use a tool or platform like Shopify to ensure they have the features they need.
A marketplace is an eCommerce website that connects multiple sellers to multiple buyers. The marketplace handles transactions, while the sellers are responsible for fulfillment and shipping. Many marketplaces restrict the types of businesses allowed to sell products and which products they can sell. General marketplaces are open to many different vendors, and niche marketplaces focus on a specific product or service category.
3. Online Retailers
Online retailers or multi-vendor websites are a hybrid between a marketplace and a single-brand eCommerce site. Here, different businesses can create private storefronts on a website. However, they do not own the website, and the website owner handles hosting and other backend tasks. In exchange, they get a percentage or fee.
An affiliate website is used to sell products and services for other brands. In exchange for this, the website owner receives commissions.
What Should an eCommerce Website Do for Your Business?
An eCommerce website should automate processes and include functionality that makes selling products online more accessible. Here are the essential features your website should have.
The primary function of an eCommerce store is to accept and process customer orders. It requires several different parts to make this happen. The site must be able to:
- Display products to customers
- Allow customers to add products to a shopping cart
- Collect and store customer data
- Create order numbers and allow for tracking
- Generate billing information
- Provide shipping options
Additionally, the order processing module should interface with other functionalities so that customers do not encounter friction when attempting to view products or place an order.
An eCommerce website requires at least one payment gateway at the end of the purchasing process so the customer can complete their transaction. It’s necessary that payment processing is secure, and Ideally, customers will have several payment methods to choose from.
Finally, the payment process must work seamlessly. Customers who have difficulty making payments may become frustrated or lose trust, which is a significant cause of abandoned shopping carts.
Customer support is essential at every stage of the buyer’s journey and should be available on your eCommerce website. Customers should be able to easily find answers to questions or receive help with any issue they encounter, no matter where they are in the process.
An eCommerce website should be designed so that online chat, contact forms, policy pages, and other help can be accessed with a click or tap. This should include telephone and email customer support or a knowledge base.
On-site customer service should:
- Assist customers with the process of making a purchase
- Order lookup and tracking
- Have access to read and create customer reviews
- Provide answers to frequently asked questions
- Help and expedite refund and exchange requests
Most importantly, every customer service option should be easy to access quickly.
Shipping and Logistics
Shipping and logistics should both be integrated into your eCommerce website. After the customer places their order, there should be no difficulties with delivery or tracking. Whatever solution you choose for eCommerce, it should have the ability to handle delivery tracking, cancellations, and returned items. Order analytics will provide you with helpful insights.
eCommerce Revenue Models: How to Make Money from Your Website
The purpose of an eCommerce website is to sell a product or service to earn money. It’s helpful to understand the different revenue models available to you to maximize your profits.
While establishing your eCommerce site, do not hesitate to choose at least one of these revenue streams, if not more. This will create more stability for your online business.
These are some of the most common ways to profit from your eCommerce website.
If you operate a popular website or blog but do not offer your products for sale, affiliate marketing is a great way to earn money. Essentially, you sell products for other companies on your website in exchange for being paid a commission.
With white labeling, you can purchase products from a wholesaler, place your label on those products, and sell them as your own. You can also sell your white-labeled products to other businesses for them to resell.
You will probably use private labeling if you create or manufacture your products. This is simply adding your own branded labels to your products so that they are associated with your company after you sell them.
Dropshipping sells products on your website for a company, but the wholesaler handles order fulfillment and shipping.
Subscription services are becoming more popular for selling both products and services. For example, you might ship a monthly bundle of beauty products to subscribers who pay a monthly fee. If you have a SaaS company, your software is likely subscription-based, with different features being offered depending on the customer’s chosen subscription tier.
Other revenue models can be applied to your eCommerce website. However, these are the most popular, and most website owners can get off to a profitable start using one or more of these options.
Which Type of eCommerce Website Is Best for Your Business?
The best eCommerce website for your business will depend on your business model, target customers, and the resources you have to invest in development and support.
One of the first choices you will make is to build a website you own or use a marketplace solution. One offers more control but requires more work, and the marketplace option requires less maintenance on your end, but you give up some control.
If you create a privately owned website with your branding, you have all the control and the flexibility to make changes as your business grows. There are no website owners or other intermediaries involved. Additionally, you will be able to establish your processes and policies, and you will also be able to try different designs and marketing techniques.
If you are operating as a merchant but do not want to deal with overhead or backend issues, consider a marketplace or multi-vendor website. You will be able to display and sell your products on an established site, which means you can focus on improving your storefront and making your products more discoverable. You may also create your marketplace website that allows other businesses to sell products.
Affiliate selling can be profitable if you carry some influence on people who visit your website. Your link to relevant products for sale and earn a commission.
Many people sell products on eCommerce sites they own and Marketplace sites. For example, they might also use Amazon to create a storefront and have their dedicated business website.
There is not one size fit all type of eCommerce website. Only you can decide which is best for your business based on your acquired information and resources.