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While the inception of shopping is since the ages that are not even recorded, the way and pattern of shopping has changed with time and is growing continuously. With the never-ending technological advancements, the future of shopping is probably interesting as well as uncertain. Since the last decade, the way of living has drastically changed and the changes in the pattern of shopping, we can say, have already started. As an online seller, you would probably know the importance of labelling and defining your products whether it comes under the category of retail business or an ecommerce business.

To start with, both the types are inclusive of selling and purchasing of goods and services online that are dealt between the buyer and the seller. Online retailing is same as that of a brick and mortar or physical retailing. Just as a shopper can walk down the store, search for products, and purchase them, they can do with online retail. Moreover, they can browse through the variants of the products, learn the product descriptions, and go through the product details. Majority of the retail stores provide physical as well as online purchasing options. Ecommerce, on the other hand, is also dealing with electronic transactions; however, it differs from a retail business by the addition of many other services including online services such as marketing. Usually, ecommerce is referred to as the platforms that let other merchants sell their products to the customers by paying a few charges known as the commission. In this article, we will be talking about the differences between ecommerce and retail business.

The differences between ecommerce and retail business

Putting it directly, ecommerce and retail business seem to be similar as both refer to the process that occurs when a product from a business is sold to an individual customer, except for the fact that one of them is strictly done through the internet. Retail businesses can be done in several ways such as establishing brick and mortar or physical stores that include shopping malls, online stores, grocery store, direct mail or direct sales from person to person. On the other hand, ecommerce implies to commercial transactions that are done electronically via the internet. Moreover, you should be aware that there is a term such as Retail Ecommerce Business which implies to the selling of goods and services over the internet, EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), extra-net, or other online systems. However, the payment for the same may or may not be done online. Below are detailed explanations of ecommerce and retail businesses that can surely provide you with a few key differences that could be helpful for you:

With the evolution of newer technologies, the ecommerce businesses are overpowering the traditional retail businesses. The transformation in the digital world along with many industries greatly impacted the commerce industry. Today, people are prone to search for a product or service online rather than roaming down the streets of their city. As per research done by Statista, the amount spent on creating ecommerce websites are increasing year after year. Retail business is an industry right from the beginning of the world. It is the key to almost every other industry. You can literally say that the world would be a standstill without retail businesses. In retail businesses, you make a face-to-face purchase of goods and services from a physical store. Whereas, ecommerce is the buying and selling of goods and services on the internet via websites. Ecommerce is a type of retailing that was developed to simplify the process of selling. With ecommerce, customers now do not need to leave the comfort of their homes, and more importantly, stand in queues for hours of the day. All the purchases can be done through the websites without needing to have a face-to-face interaction and need for a salesman; all with simple internet connectivity.

Now that you are well aware of ecommerce and retail business, it is time to point out the key differences between the two. Knowing the differences between the other is essential to understand the market and manage it efficiently. Coming to the differences, a few of the major difference between the two are:


The limitations for accessibility for a brick and mortar store where retail businesses occur is evident by its very name. Although the evolutions in technology are speedy, it has not yet made it possible for transporting physical buildings. While shopping in-store requires customers to be able to get the location of the store in the trading hours of the store as per their convenience, ecommerce forsakes it all. With 24/7 services, round the clock, ecommerce has changed the way people look at retail businesses. People can now order goods and services anytime, anywhere. The extensive benefits of ecommerce have changed the way businesses expand and grow in a completely cost-effective way.

By expanding a business, we mean flourishing it beyond the geographical barriers of the city, or even the country. Today, customers from the US can order products from India and vice versa. This ultimate globalization of retail businesses has paved ways for the development of this niche like none other.

Although, even physical stores have the potential to expand their market in small-scale, by opening newer outlets in different locations or by taking the business on wheels. Moreover, newer technologies have provided solutions that enable retailers to sell on the go by various platforms that aid in selling through pop-up shops and expand their customer base without the need to use ecommerce.

Scope of Products Sold

A traditional retail business is not just bound to geographical barriers but also can sell only limited products in a single store. This is not because of the lack of a strong customer base, but because of the limited products, they can sell. Usually, the brick and mortar stores are associated with selling products that are tried and tested on customers but refrain from trying new sets of products due to the time taken and the charges involved. Selling a new set of products may even take months before you decide whether to place it in front of your customers.

This scenario is completely different in the case of ecommerce stores wherein vendors can easily launch a new product line on the website as well as market it efficiently. In fact, the majority of the ecommerce business models are focused on the right marketing tactics that let them quickly instil a level of interest in their customers to check the new arrivals. In ecommerce business, a new marketing campaign is sufficient to place your new products in the market for your customers in a way that grabs their attention. Whereas, in physical stores, even though the sellers complete a marketing strategy, the customers would not benefit them by purchasing the new products immediately.

Customer Services

Although ecommerce business is an impressive option for shopping online, it would not match to the face-to-face interaction with any salesperson in the store. In a physical store, you will be experiencing a real-life talk with a human who can provide great personalized customer service. On the other hand, trying to understand the catalogue of a website by you could be simply a time-consuming task. Moreover, to decide whether the product you are purchasing online is worth your investment is another deadening task. In a physical store, customers get customer services with a personal touch to deliver great experiences that bring them back to the store. Contrarily, in an ecommerce store, there is no such meaningful interaction or even a sales pitch. Product descriptions online could be not enough for customers to decide whether to purchase them and a bad experience will lead to the loss of your potential customers

In brick and mortar stores, loyal customers exist for real as they know that they will be delivered with great customer experience and satisfaction from the stores they trust. It is not to be mentioned that building positive relationships is the primary step for a successful retailing business. However, there are ways in which ecommerce businesses can improvise their customer services in the form of live chat support wherein customers can ask questions to get real-time answers instantly. Sadly, not all ecommerce websites integrate such facilities giving ways for traditional retail businesses to flourish.


Ecommerce is the abbreviation of electronic commerce which implies to business transactions that occur through an electronic network such as the internet. Whereas, retail business implies to the sales of goods from a point of sale such as malls, departmental stores, etc. to the customers. The differences between ecommerce and retail businesses are significant. You must be thoroughly aware of the differences in order to survive in the business market. Considering both, ecommerce, and retail business, it is clear that although both provide great services on their own, they are the best when served together. A multichannel retail solution offers a modern path to expand the customer base by combining online and retail store sales, especially through a refined point of sale system.

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