Despite the economic recession, online retail continues to grow, reports Forrester Research. Nowadays, it’s as inconceivable for a business not to have an online shop as it is for them not to operate without cell phones. E-commerce, or e-tailing, is so much more than a global trend; it has become a fundamental and indispensable part of doing business.

What is E-tailing?

E-Tailing is a play on the word, retailing. It’s the selling of goods and services on the internet. Rather than going to a bricks-and-mortar store, online shoppers visit online retail outlets, variously known as online shops, e-shops, e-stores, web shops, web stores or virtual stores.

Where Did E-Tailing All Begin?

It took almost four years after the launch of the world wide web, back in 1990, for retailers to cotton on to the fact that the internet could be a viable sales channel. One of the first retailers to jump on the bandwagon was US department store, JC Penney, who saw an internet store as an extension of their catalogue retail channels. Today, JC Penney is one of the largest and most successful e-tailers; it was the first online retailer to hit $1 billion in sales in 2005. Other landmarks in the history of online shopping include:

  • The launch of Amazon in 1995
  • Dell becomes the first company to make $1million in sales in 1997
  • PayPal launches an alternative payment system in 1998
  • Victoria’s Secret debuts their web store with a video that gets 1 million views on Day One in 1999
  • Walmart introduces an order-online/pick-up-in-store programme in 2000
  • Apple launches iTunes in 2003
  • One million Valentine’s Day online shoppers crash Hallmark.com in 2005
  • Google launches Google Checkout, to compete with PayPal, in 2006
  • Online apparel sales outstrip computer sales for the first time ever in 2007
  • M-Commercemobile commerce – the next phase in the e-tailing revolution begins in 2007.

Advantages of E-Tailing

Thinking about capitalising on this global trend and creating an online store? Do it! Here’s why:

  • It costs significantly less to set-up and launch an online store than it does a bricks-and-mortar business.
  • Online stores have lower overheads – you can achieve greater profit margins and can pass the savings on to your customers
  • Online stores are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Online stores can attract people from all over the world, not just from a specific geographical area.

Online Sales Wordwide

Sales from online shopping worldwide surpass the R3 trillion mark. Still think your business can get by without an online store?

Did You Know?

The world’s first online purchase was a pepperoni and mushroom pizza, with extra cheese, from the world’s first online store opened by Pizza Hut in 1994.