While shopping online was increased by the pandemic, it has also changed customer behavior and there's no going back.

An online store is a website through which consumers put orders. It may stand for a small local store, a major merchant, an eCommerce store, or an individual who offers items or services via a third-party site, such as ebay.com.

The online shop can operate under a variety of business models, including business-to-consumer, business-to-business, or customer-to-consumer.

How do online stores work, and how do you make them work for you? Keep on reading to learn more!

How online stores work

Whether you're buying in a physical shop or buying online, whatever you do is tailored around a transaction: the fundamental exchange of cash for goods or services. How do physical stores and online stores differ on this?

  • In a real-world shop, you just take your new pants to the checkout, give some cash or a credit card, and leave the shop with your pants in a bag - that's a purchase.
  • It operates in a similar way if you're getting online, yet there's one crucial difference: you never really get to touch(or even see) the goods until they get to your home sometime later.

If this makes buying online a little complex for the buyer, it also introduces two extra problems for the store. In addition to having some ways of processing purchases online, it means they also need a way of checking that the goods you've bought are in supply and they have a way of delivering the goods to your address.

Simply put, then, eCommerce is about integrating 3 different platforms: 

  1. A Web server that can take care of an online storefront and process purchases (making proper links to bank computers to look into people's credit card details), 
  2. A database system that can keep a check of the items the store has in stock (frequently updating as people make orders and eventually making new orders with suppliers when stocks run low)
  3. A delivery system connected to a stockroom where the goods can be immediately moved and sent to the customer as soon as possible.

 

Only the first of these 3 platforms is strictly necessary for an online store.

Many people effectively run small online stores without either complicated data sources or delivery systems: they merely have a website to promote their business and take orders and then manage the supply control and delivery in more traditional ways.

Small investors who sell items on the public auction website ebay.com often work by this, for example. Their "databases" remain in their head; their "delivery system" is simply a walk to the local post office.

Which kind of products are profitable to sell online?

Not every online seller likes the items they sell; lots of benefit from a trend or market products similar to the ones moving significantly.

With people working at home and stressed out about their wellness, certain item categories are skyrocketing. We're starting to see a rise in comfort products and points that make people comfortable at home.

There are also raised demand for housewares, particularly decorating products, workout equipment, and devices. You may not be able to market wood, but you can offer items that are needed for DIY crafts.

Conclusion

There are many ways to start selling your products or services online. You can make use of a marketplace, an e-commerce platform, or add a buying cart to your existing website.

For new sellers, marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon are easy, economical alternatives. Shopping platforms make it very easy to set up an online store rapidly. They have integrated tools to help you accept payments and manage inventory.

Selling online is more than setting up a website and submitting product images; it needs interest, competence, and marketing touches to be successful.